2.5 Years of Harassment

This is my first time visiting this site, and I’m very relieved to know it exists. Though it seems to be a forum where we can only preach to the choir, I’m glad to have it as a sounding board.

I moved to DC 2.5 years ago from California, and have been harassed more within those 2.5 years than I ever did in 28 years of life in CA. I literally cannot ever walk anywhere in the city without several sexual comments being thrown my way. Some are more innocuous than others (i.e. “hey baby, work it, girl,” and general whistles and kisses), but the greater majority of the comments are extremely graphic in nature, borderline threatening, and always have the effect of making me want to either never leave my house or wrap myself in potato sacks when I do.

It is extremely upsetting, and I have even considered leaving DC because of it. It makes me feel unsafe, it makes me feel violated, and it can sometimes even depress me for days depending on the incident. I avoid certain streets entirely on my way to work, taking the longer route instead, if I know I’ll be targeted somewhere specific. I either change my clothes or throw on a huge sweatshirt before walking to the grocery store, since I always get targeted there. When I need to walk somewhere and can do neither of these things, I put my headphones in, even if I don’t want to listen to music, and blast my music just so that I won’t be able to the disgusting things that are being said to me. I realize that all of these tactics are consistent with victim behavior. But given that “fighting back” only seems to exacerbate the situation, I’ve resorted to them.

It’s upsetting me more and more the longer I live here. It’s getting worse, and I don’t know what to do anymore.

Location: All over DC

Submitted by Anonymous

Do you have an experience you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All stories will be posted anonymously unless you specify.

6 Responses

  1. Monique

    I can totally relate to the experiences and coping mechanisms that you have detailed. Though I haven’t had these experiences in D.C. since I drove everywhere, I did experience this craziness for almost a decade while I lived in NYC. I thought that the older I got, the more empowered I would feel, so that it eventually I would be immune to street harassment or something to that effect, but of course that hasn’t been the case. I’m so thankful for this blog and others like it as well as the Defend Yourself workshops and my friends. They help me keep my sanity. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Golden Silence

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    It really sucks that you can’t walk where you want to and wear what you want to because of these trolls on the street. Harassment is too universal an experience for us women.

  3. Mikey

    I’ve lived on the West coast all my life, and I’ve never experienced anything at all like this. I’m both fascinated and horrified reading this site. It is hard to believe that two sides of the same country can be so different! Note to self: do not take that job in DC. Move to Montana as in original plan.

    • hollabackdc

      Actually, it happens on the West Coast, as many of our West Coast sisters share their experiences with us. There were a few Holla Backs on the West Coast. We linked to HB San Francisco and HB California. Gender-based public sexual harassment happens everywhere.

  4. Mikey

    I lived in LA for 5 years, and live near SF now, grew up in Seattle (not the nice new Seattle, rather the depressed one in the 70s). And while I have had a few incidents, never nothing I couldn’t handle. I’ve never felt truly threatened or uncomfortable, except maybe once in Buenos Aires, and also, oddly, Juneau. Never in NYC, never in DC, or Austin. I remain amazed, fascinated, and sad that these women have to deal with this, and wonder why I ever have? Do I look that scary (I’m blond and short)?

  5. Maureen


    It has nothing to do with the way you look. It has everything to do with whether the perpetrator is in the mood to pick on a woman, and thinks he can get away with it.

    What fuels this impulse I do not know, and frankly feel ill when I spend too much time contemplating. It is in the zone of the perverted, which is a place I don’t frequent.

    And yes, it’s a problem everywhere, but it is certainly a much greater problem in some cities.
    I think the amount of overall violence in the area also adds to the level of threat. Hence, in DC, it feels deadly.