Public space

Ruby

In 1964 I was abused by a 14 year old boy babysitter when I was six years old. My parents tried to help but nothing happened. No one thought of going to the police because it wasn’t done in those days. I didn’t know it at the time but when my mother was seven she was sodomized with a broom handle by teenage boys in a park by her home. No one could find them. When I was nine a classmate knocked me down on my way home saying he was going to rape me. The school’s response was to keep me after school for about half an hour every day for a few weeks so he could get home before I tried to get home safely. At a YWCA pool a man I was chatting with took hold of my hand and put it on his erect penis under water. In my first term at the university a professor announced that he used to put slides of Playboy’s naked women in with the others to “keep students awake.” Another professor came into class and dropped his trousers to his knees so he could “adjust himself.” When I complained to the department head I was told not to worry because my prof would be retiring in the next few years. Once on the bus a man slid his hand under me and grinned salaciously until I yelled at him in the biggest, lowest pitched voice I could manage, “MOVE.” He did even though the bus was jam packed with people holding packages of holiday shopping. After years of putting up with a man whistling at me at work and when complaining to my boss didn’t work (it’s a he said she said situation) I finally yelled at him, “Don’t you ever, ever, ever do that to me again!” He turned around and went back the way he had come. A few years earlier a shorter coworker hauled off and decked this same man but clearly he didn’t learn a thing. As a sensible woman I am afraid to walk outside alone at night unless I am with a dog in my own neighborhood. This is no guarantee though. The halls of my apartment building are not safe. The management refuses to pay for a security guard even though I was assaulted in the lobby, there was a push-in robbery across the hall, there are often dirty needles in the stairway and many people are in wheelchairs. There are places I don’t go because it isn’t safe for me. I often think of what might help me in an attack. Fear makes me freeze almost always. I feel paralyzed and can’t make a sound. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of yelling and also that hurting an attacker is just fine and may even be essential. I struggle with major depression, anxiety and PTSD though I haven’t felt suicidal in the last couple of years. I don’t hesitate to help others but I freeze like a rabbit when I feel threatened. All of this has left me hypervigilant and full of anger and rage and fear that I can’t get rid of. My mother is the same way and I think it nearly destroyed her to learn that I was abused in first grade. My life is circumscribed by fear.

Sydney

When I was 15 my best friend took me to Mexico with her mom and sister for her 16th birthday. When we got there, her mom convinced the front desk that we were 18 so that we could get adult wristbands and drink at the bar. This was my first time travelling outside of my country and I had no idea what it was going to be like. There was a resort worker that took interest in me and was constantly whistling and making flirty suggestions toward me, so I told my friend that it seemed like he was trying to get my attention. She assured me that this was normal in Mexico and it was their job to be flirty with the guests staying on the resort. That same day he pulled me behind a shack while my friends were playing a drinking game and tried to make out with me and I was so drunk that I can’t remember whether we did or not. One night we were really drunk and got on a train to go to the resort beside ours. The same resort worker was there and when we arrived he immediately directed me to a back room. That is when he raped me. He made me suck his dick and then had sex with me. When I started to yell he covered my mouth and told me to be quiet or someone will hear. I don’t remember much else, and have no idea how I ended up back in my hotel. When I woke up in the morning I was on the bathroom floor, half naked, wrapped around the toilet. Initially, I had no recollection of what had happened the night before, until I noticed that there was blood all over my underwear. That is how I remembered that I was raped that night. That morning we got up and went to breakfast. The resort worker was everywhere we went, and when he saw me he would wink and whistle at me, taunting me, and sometimes even growl sexually. My friend and her sister would laugh because I had told them before how he was flirty with me and they thought it was an innocent joke. On our last day when we were waiting in the lobby for our bus to leave he sat beside us to say goodbye. He made jokes and laughed with my friend and her family and said he would miss us. He took my phone out of my hands, smiled, and took a photo of himself. I deleted it as soon as we left. I never told anyone. I was scared that it was my fault because I was so drunk, maybe I was flirting and he thought I wanted it. Maybe it was my fault because I had an adult wristband on and he had no idea I was underaged. I also didn’t want my friend’s mom to get in trouble for allowing us to drink and not keeping an eye on us. I felt guilty because I was in a relationship and thought I had cheated on my boyfriend by allowing this to happen. I told my best friend 6 months later and she kept it a secret for me, I don’t remember much about her response, we were so young that I doubt she understood it herself. It’s been 5 years and a few people close to me know, but I’ve never told anyone in my family in fear that they will hate my friends mom and blame her for allowing me to drink, and blame me for doing the drinking. I feel guilty that I never did anything and that I didn’t stop him from doing this to another 15 year old girl. It affects me to this day, even though sometimes I feel like I just need to get over it. So many men make me uncomfortable, I have a hard time feeling safe being intimate. I get easily uncomfortable when I am being sexualized, even in a safe environment with my loving boyfriend.

Rachel

I know that I’m smart. I’m not bragging, because it’s the truth. I am one of the smartest people in my grade. But the boys don’t like that. On a regular basis, I’m told to ‘go back to the kitchens’ or ‘this is a job/project/question/etc. for a man to do’. Or, they catcall or grope. I was told to be quiet when I tried to report it. ‘He has issues’ they said. So when they told me to go back to the kitchen, I told them that women live longer because the kitchen is where the knives are. If they grope me, I slap them. If someone asks why I can say that he had groped me. Things can get better, but if we want things to change, we have to do it ourselves.

annalisa

today I want through a public place. A man literally catcalled me. He popped his tongue in the exact same way in which I do when I’m trying to get my cat’s attention.

AC

France, few weeks ago 8pm, 3 female university students hanging out smoking outside in front of a residency 2 mid-aged guy are passing in front of them, one said “hello girls” (in French obviously) while walking No answers Few seconds later, still walking away, the guy said : “Go fuck yourself” then “dirty whores” then finally “badly fucked” (old fashioned insult in French) Just another of these stories

anonymous

When i was 13, walking back from school, two boys a couple of years older than me shouted at me and asked if i wanted them to rape me. I ignored them and walked away, but never told anyone what happened. A couple of weeks ago, i heard some eleven year old boys talking about how they would get famous. One said “If i get famous, it would probably be because i was a rapist. I’m not good enough to get a girl, so i’ll just rape her.”

Andreea

let me set the scene.this happened in february of 2020. i was(and currently still am)16 years old. i live in Romania and my mom and i went to a supermarket. the store is right across a shopping mall(populated area as you may imagine). i was wearing a pair of mom jeans, which are literally the opposite of tight fitting, a sweater, a puff jacket and a pair of tennis shoes. it was around 3 or 4 pm, so it was still light outside. so, my mom and i are heading to the store and we’re right across from a train station when a homeless man comes up to us behind our backs (normally were very vigilent but we were in an engaging discussion) so he comes behind me and literally shoves his hand up my butt. simply shoves it. i started screaming. my mom screamed at him. he started laughing and ran away. people stared for 2 seconds and looked back at their phones. i was so humiliated i started crying. my mom then told me to stop crying and that i must get used to it. she said to take it as a compliment. i was still crying and shaking and i couldnt understand how she could say that. i felt so dirty and gross. i stopped going out after that day. it made me think”if i was in a place with my mom and other people, during the day, and wearing loose and big clothes, what else can i do to stop it” theres nothing else i couldve done for that to not happen. and that was just one time. at a party some guy put his hand up my skirt. when i was 11 coming home from school 2 guys touched my butt. going to the store 3 different guys touched my butt in the same day. one of them slapped it. middle of the day. with people around. almost everyday passing by construction sites is a nightmare. im tired of this, and i have about 70 years ahead. im scared

Ioanna

I was walking my dog and a man shouted out his car “Tits!” I’m 16

Anonymous

One day I was standing in line for the store, waiting to get in. Behind me, there was an older woman, but the rest of the line was men, mostly of parenting age and older. I was wearing a dress for the first time (it was summer), and I usually don’t wear dresses. I had to psych myself up for it since I usually cover up my body. I was feeling pretty good, just waiting to go into the grocery store, when this truck drives by, radio blaring, going pretty fast. (Mind you, this is a busy road, and I was waiting on the sidewalk of that road.) I didn’t really get a chance to recognize any of them, but I could tell it was full of young men, maybe 18? One of them hung out the window and whooped. Like a yell, louder than the radio. It felt like he was staring straight at me, which he may have been, I will never know. But after they drove away, I felt mortified. I looked around to see if maybe they had been yelling at another younger woman, but I was the only one. It made me feel really self-conscious and I kept pulling my dress down because they made me think I was revealing something. I hate that that simple act can inspire so much fear and humiliation in one person because our world and society have developed so that that is okay to do and no one will bat an eye.

Engineering and Workfield

June 2020-August 2020 This summer I got a job at a mill. I just graduated (I was 17, keep this in mind) and was going into engineering in the fall. I interviewed, and received a full time job at a mill where I would work as an engineer in training (sort of) in the summers over the span of my degree and eventually be fully employed at this company. This mill I knew was almost 95% males. I had friends and family who worked there, and knew of people, so I knew I would be one of the only females there. In the fall I am going into engineering, so I thought that this job would help prepare me for a male dominated workforce. Also, I was hired as a youth recruitment so they would increase diversity in age at this place, so I knew I would probably be the youngest there (again, because I was 17, and usually 17 year olds do not have full time jobs in a place that requires a degree). One month into the job, not only had I heard sexist things said to my co-workers (ex: one man asked and women if she knew how to use a ruler), but one man went up to my boyfriend (who worked at this job as well), “Your girlfriend has a fat ass.” I was a minor. This “man” was around 5-7 years older then me. My boyfriend told me his name and appearance, but I still could not identify him. For the rest of the summer I would not leave my desk unless I had to, and watched behind my back to see if anyone was looking at me. I almost considered leaving my job even though he should have been embarrassed. Problem is, I told my upper management about the incident (a women as well), and she pretty much told me that is how it is and let it go.