Assault, Groping, Lewd Behavior

“I got away by punching him” – Abby’s story

I was with my friend at the fair about a week or so ago and her friend came up and he started hanging out with us. Soon he had me forced on his lap grabbing my chest and butt. He proceeded to try other things but luckily I got away by punching him in the nose after I got my hand loose from his grip and ran away.

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Assault, Groping

Groped On a Plane! – Dorothy’s story

Return flight on SW Air with friend from West Palm Beach FL to Baltimore I was sitting at the window & she was in the isle hoping to keep middle empty. A 40 something male came up & simply shifted his thumb up as if to say get up so he could sit. I gave him the window & sat in the middle next to my friend. He pulled his baseball cap down over his eyes & pretended to sleep the entire flight. My friend caught him once try to see down her blouse when she bent down to get something out of her purse by her feet. He never took service with the flight attendant & I knew he was pretending to sleep because it felt like he was pressing his knee against mine & I figured either his leg was heavy or he was trying to take my space so I held my leg firm. We landed in BWI & lights on & announcements & the gate wasn’t available yet so we had to wait, cell phones turned on, etc. Still, he’s asleep. Finally we pulled to gate & people stand & get luggage to get off the plane. My friend stood in the isle & I lifted the center arm rest & turned my back to the man “sleeping” at the window. Chatting with my friend I felt my jacket move slightly & I thought it was him sitting up, moving the arm rest, whatever. The next thing I know his hand is fully in the back of my pants!! I whip my head around because I didn’t know what it was & I see him pulling his hand out of my pants!! I was shocked!! I said, What are you doing?!” & He said, “Sorry, I thought you were my wife”, as he’s rubbing his eyes as if to be just waking up. I didn’t know what to do! I mouthed to my friend, “OMG”! & turned back around & said, “I hope you’re really married”! We got off the plane & I rushed out looking over my shoulder wondering if he was following us. He wasn’t. She went to get her luggage & I only had carry on so I met my attorney husband at the curb & immediately told him what happened. He said, “That’s a sexual assault! Call your friend & see if he’s in baggage”! I did & he was. My husband said, “Wait here”! & went in to confront the man. The man, not knowing who he was, admitted to it so my husband asked him to tell the police in the airport & the guy did, again admitting it. I had to park, go in, & I pressed charges as he was locked in a cell (never seeing him again). The FBI was there too. They wanted to know if the plane door was opened or closed. If it was opened it’s state & if closed Federal. We guessed it was opened because we couldn’t tell. The police strongly believed this wasn’t his first time although he didn’t have a record. He went to court & got community service, had to take a drinking class (he said he’d been drinking & golfing earlier). I then sued him & got about seven thousand dollars! I was so bothered by it & wanted to make him pay! Had I punched him in the face in the moment it happened he probably would have denied it & sued me so in the end I’m glad it worked out the way it did but I wish I had told the airline so they could possibly ban the guy. It’s all public record & happened exactly as described.

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Groping

“He put his arm around my waist” – phone app submission

The other day I was along around with my friend. We’re both teenage girls and we were mid-conversation in a large space that was crowded but not immediately around us. All of a sudden a guy walks up right next to me from behind, put his arm around my waist, pulled me CLOSER and said “Excuse me” then walked off. It was incredibly horrifying/upsetting for several reasons.

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Assault, Blocking Path, Groping, Homophobic, Leering, Lewd Behavior, Positive Thinking, Public Masturbation, Racist, Stalking, Transphobic, Verbal

One Small Step – Guest Blog Post!

Guest blog post by our volunteer, Corrine:

So I’m hanging out in a bar with some friends. It’s happy hour. People are drinking. We’re talking, we’re laughing, we’re having a good old time. Everything is great. Then out of nowhere this guy comes over to my friends, grabs my crotch, tries to kiss me, and licks my face. Licks…my…face!

Not only was it gross and humiliating, it made me think I did something wrong. Maybe I accidentally made eye contact, maybe I smiled at him (I smile at everyone, I think someone told me once that it was being polite. I don’t smile so much anymore), maybe my pinstriped button down starched collared shirt and jeans and flip flops was too provocative of an outfit. Who knows?

The point is, he felt that something warranted him putting his hands on me. We weren’t in the workplace, I didn’t know him, we weren’t friends. Unfortunately, this was not my first time being harassed on the street by a complete stranger.

 

What exactly is street harassment?

At Hollaback Baltimore, we define street harassment as a form of sexual harassment that takes place in public spaces. At its core is a power dynamic that constantly reminds historically subordinated groups (women and LGBTQ folks, for example) of their vulnerability to assault in public spaces. Further, it reinforces the ubiquitous sexual objectification of these groups in everyday life.

In a nutshell: it’s when you say or do something to someone that is disrespectful, unwelcome, threatening and/or harassing and those actions are motivated by a person’s gender.

 

Get to the point…

The point? Street harassment takes away an individual’s ability to be comfortable in their skin. It says, because you have these physical features and/or because you are of this specific sexual orientation, I can do and say anything I want to you, any time I want to. Street harassment can be sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist. – See more at: http://www.ihollaback.org/about/

It says “Because you’re a woman, because you’re gay, because you’re a transgender person, you can’t just go anywhere and do anything without a consequence. You are not free to come and go as you please. You have to think about the places you go, you have to decide if its worth it. Otherwise, stay your ass at home.”

 

A step forward…

On Tuesday, May 21st, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the  Fairness for All Marylanders Act (FAMA) of 2014 . Essentially, this law bans discrimination of any person based on sexual orientation and sexual identity. Further, this past week President Obama signed an executive order, also banning discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government.

The Presidential Executive Order (Cliff Note’s Version)

  • It is now illegal for government agencies and federal contractors to discriminate against anyone who identifies (publically or privately) as LBGT
  • Effects 28 million people (one fifth of the American workforce)
  • Effective immediately for federal employees, contractors have until early next year to get their ducks in a row
  • Adapted from a previous executive order signed by President George Bush in 2002 that adds sexual orientation and gender identity as additional categories protected under the order

 

Pretty cool, right? This legislation is most certainly is a step in the right direction with regards to making the workplace safer for all people. Despite this, the order still makes it perfectly legal for non-government employees and contractors to continue discriminating against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person in the workplace. And don’t even get me started about what happens outside of the workplace. What about on the street? How can we make public spaces safer? What constitutes safe or unsafe? When does behavior become threatening?

 

Why can’t you just take it as a compliment?

I guess I could, couldn’t I? But tell me this, is it a compliment when someone follows you off the subway when you’re alone at night? Is it a compliment when someone stalks you? What about when someone decides to beat you bloody and leave you for dead on the street, is that a compliment too? Where do we draw the line between harmless fun vs. criminal act? Its legislation like FAMA and the most recent presidential executive order that are allowing us all to more easily navigate these gray areas. The more that we can advocate to specify the illegality of things like discrimination, harassment, rape, etc., in the workplace or at school, the safer the streets and other public spaces will be.

As we recognize the important acknowledgements being made with the passing of this bill and the signing of this executive order, street harassment is still a huge problem, not just in Maryland but internationally. Get involved and tell your story: If you’re a person who has experienced street harassment, Hollaback! While you’re at it, check out some of the other stories and maybe they will inspire you to take action. If you’re a person who has street harassed (knowingly or unknowingly), stop and check out the stories on our website to get a real picture of the message you send when you say and do those things.

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Assault, Groping, Uncategorized, Verbal

“Why are you touching me?” – Anna’s story

I am waiting in line at the grocery store and at first this guy touches my shoulder to say “excuse me” to apparently get out of the way of someone that is passing by. First, when people do this I find it completely unnecessary to touch me. Then he touches me again as he points to his friend, so as to suggest his friend as a prospect for me, raising his eyebrows and saying “eh?! eh?!” I felt really violated. I somehow was able to say “why are you touching me?” as he walked away, but still feel gross.

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Assault, Groping, Leering, Lewd Behavior, Positive Thinking, Racist, Verbal

Summer Safety

Guest blog post by volunteers Tegan & Corrine

 

Summer; warm weather, a glorious time to be outside, enjoying the outdoors, going for walks, sitting out under the sun. At least, until someone decides to invade on your private space in a public area. Street harassment (being harassed or assaulted in a public space) unfortunately seems to increase as the weather warms, and with the increase comes a need for some safety tips.

Baltimore Skyline1

Tip # 1: Recognizing a Roofying & Intervention

 

There have already been a rash of reports of people being roofied in bars this season, and paramount to those situations is bystander intervention and knowing how to identify if someone has been drugged. While under the effects of the drug, the victim does not know they have been drugged and is most likely unable to ask for help themselves.

 

It is crucial if you witness someone who seems confused, sleepy, and has severe lack of motor control to ask them if they are ok, and ask the bar staff or security to call the necessary services. The effects of the drug begin within 30 minutes of ingestion, peak within 2 hours, and can persist for up to eight hours. The drug effects may seem similar to those of excessive alcohol consumption (which should also warrant an “Are you ok?”) and are actually aggravated by concurrent use. If a person is exhibiting symptoms, be aware of any suspicious behavior by other patrons around this person. In this situation, it is key that bystanders intervene as the victim is unknowingly under the influence of a potent drug.

 

Tip # 2: Know Thyself

 

While bystander intervention in cases of rohypnol (roofie) use is key, you can also take precautions to ensure your own safety. If you suspect you have been drugged, notify the staff immediately, as the effects can quickly take hold. Before heading out, let your friends know about the effects of the drug, so everyone in your crew can look out for each other. Lastly, only accept drinks directly from the bar staff. That cutie can still offer to buy you a drink, you just want to watch the bartender make it.

 

Tip #3: Candid Camera

 

Another form of harassment to be aware of during the summer is people who might be trying to inappropriately record or video women in an indecent manner (delicately put) without their knowledge. This has been known to occur at outdoor venues such as concerts, festivals, and in parks. In Baltimore there is one individual in particular who has been known to do this in various places, carrying an over the shoulder camera bag and usually dressed the same whenever they are out. As the corny slogan says: “if you see something, say something” (thanks Homeland Security). Get police, tell a friend, or respond to the person directly if you’re comfortable.

If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person directly:

  • Find a security guard
  • Contact police (especially if you’re alone)
  • Have a friend confront the person
  • Call the person out by telling those around you what they are doing
  • Hollaback!

Being aware of your surroundings and stepping in as an active bystander can help keep you and those around you safe this summer. If something does happen to you or a friend, just know it is not your fault and you deserve to be believed, supported, and to seek justice (however you define it). Call TurnAround’s 24 Hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 410-828-6390 if you need someone to talk to, or check out our Support Resources page for more info.

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Groping, Leering, Verbal

Harassed by the Security Guards – Chelsea’s story

I was with two of my friends [ed. note: at a club] and one of my friends happened to be in the cross-fire of an absurd amount of harassment, about 5 incidents over the course of the night. The first few incidences of harassment came from the [venue's] security guards, who inappropriately touched and grabbed my friend’s body, and told her to “smile.” She responded that him asking her smile made her feel unsafe- and his job as a security guard is to ensure safety. He said “I just asked you to smile”, and she repeated herself, and he then left without any apology.

We all noticed the guards checking out women as they passed and touching women inappropriately as they moved through the [bar]. A tap on the shoulder is more than sufficient if a guard needs a patron to move- unwanted and unnecessary grabbing of a woman’s waist, etc., (We did not observe any such touching towards men) is inappropriate, uncomfortable, unsafe, and upsetting.

This dynamic is particularly troubling as it is coming from the security guards- people who could be instrumental in dealing with harassment between patrons in the space. Since the guards are harassing women in the space, harassment towards women becomes permissible and acceptable for all. This is deeply troubling, especially when harassment between patrons is already troubling enough!


Usually when harassment happens to me or someone near me I feel powerless to it. Though I have developed tactics over time (asking women if they need help if someone is harassing them, talking back to my own harassers), more often than not I’m left feeling that my actions were never enough. As a bystander to the harassment that happened (that night), I felt that my words couldn’t adequately address the pain and anger my friend experienced, and frustration towards the situation as a whole. I immediately thought of Hollaback’s Safer Spaces campaign in this situation because it so clearly was a case of misogyny upheld through an organizational structure. That structure is one that the Safer Spaces campaign addresses through holistic staff training that focuses on harassment as part of a larger, systemic problem instead of an individual misbehavior. The security guards and patrons harassed my friend that night because they wanted to exercise their dominance and control over her as men. In a patriarchal society, this behavior is normalized to the point that it is ignored at best, lauded at worst. The Safer Spaces Campaign is an important tool to disrupt this behavior. In a small city like Baltimore, there is a special opportunity to change the culture around harassment and sexism by spreading new knowledge and implementing new structures to hold people and organizations we care about accountable.

 

 

Note from the site leaders: While we cannot legally show specific business names on this site that people submit in their stories, we have already reached out to this business in order to give them the chance to sign up for our Safer Spaces Campaign. We will be sure that all staff are trained in full. If you are ever harassed inside of a venue, please share your story on this site. You can also tweet using #saferspacesbmore

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Groping

Innappropriate “Hello” – Laura’s story

Me: 26 year old woman

Him: 50ish year old man – a work supervisor in outdoor work setting, informal relationship setting

He: sideways hugs around, with a butt tap as a ‘nice hello’…

I: stepped away and said “No thank you.”

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Groping

NOT OK – Yuby’s story

I was at a party/club and I was surrounded by my (female) cousins and friends and a man came up behind me and grabbed my ass, walked away quickly, but then looked back to smile at me as if it was OK….which it wasn’t.

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Groping

“I was lucky. So many women, and men, aren’t.” – Emma’s story

It’s Halloween weekend in Baltimore. My friends and I put in our time at the restaurant we served at, enjoyed some libations at the bar we frequented, and were walking to 711 for some good old fashioned convenience store treats. There were four of us, all women, enroute when all of a sudden I felt my skirt raise and someone place their hands on both butt cheeks and did what I could only say is juggled them. I, stunned, pulled my skirt down and slowly turned around. The man who did this was running in the direction he came from and never turned around as one of my friends yelled obscenities at him.

I stood there in a daze wondering what it was that I did to invoke such behavior. Was I targeted because I was fat and in the back, an easy target. Was I targeted because of my skirt? I mean, it was my uniform. I had to wear a black, above the knee tight skirt. Was it because of my clown accessories; striped socks, rainbow suspenders, and over sized glasses? We continued to the store talking about the incident and what would compel someone to do such a thing.

My friend, the one yelling obscenities to the man who groped me, approached Captain America, remember it was Halloween, at the coffee bar asking where he was when the assault happened. He replied,” look at what she’s wearing.” I don’t remember the rest because I was utterly shocked to hear this come out of someone’s mouth. I thought it myself but to hear it out loud was mind bending. My friends and I eventually started making light of the situation calling the assaulter “The Butt Juggler” and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. This was just over a year ago and it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this movement that i realized what I experienced was assault. Who knows what would’ve happened if I was alone. What if he didn’t run away but further his assault? I was lucky. So many women, and men, aren’t.

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(Originally posted on the main Hollaback! site December 14th, 2013)

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