“I Just Want To Walk Home In Peace”

I apologize in advance for this rant. I am having some difficulty lately coping emotionally with all of the street harassment and assault I’ve experienced.

Unfortunately, this is just one of hundreds of horrible street harassment experiences. On Thursday night, I was walking home, dressed very plainly (not that it should matter at all) and this man, presumably standing outside of his apartment building with a friend, starts yelling at me. I look in the opposite direction at two children sitting on the stoops and smile trying to concentrate on how cute they are rather than on how this man two times my size is yelling at me, “Oh, you think all black men are ..[something muffled]…”, getting very close to me and saying “you think you so smug,” as I completely turn my head in the other direction. Meanwhile, it is 11pm, and I just want to walk home in peace, however my heart is pounding with the fear he is going to attack me, as he approaches me, yelling, unprovoked.

Another memory I have is of leaving my apartment one morning when I was living in NYC and a huge 250-pound man grabs me – Right in the middle of the street. I scream in terror at him as I shake violently. He laughs at my hysterics because I am tiny and he knows there is nothing I can do and absolutely no consequence for his actions.

In that same neighborhood, I was walking up the stairs in my own apartment building, wearing a skirt. I look down to see a man, blatantly lifting my skirt with a stick. And he’s just smiling. I was humiliated and shocked. And the worse part is, he was completely able to get away with something so psychologically damaging.

There should be severe penalties for these kinds of crimes. I have lived in both NYC and DC for the past 8 years. And I have had to walk a lot. Sexual harassment has happened at least on a biweekly basis for almost a decade. Ranging from leers, to graphic words, to threats, to assault. I dress very modestly (not that it should make a difference.) I just want to walk down the street/buy my lunch/get to work in peace.

Thank you so much for this space to share these horrible experiences. I feel less alone, angry, helpless and broken. I truly hope to get involved somehow to prevent this from happening to more women.

Submitted by JS on 6/26/2010

Location: Park Rd and 16th Street

Time of Harassment: Night (7:30P-12A)

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3 Responses

  1. Anon

    Obviously, you said this twice, so you know it to be true… but just to reinforce – absolutely nothing warrants their treatment of you. I’m so sorry you feel alone – please know that you’re not.

  2. Golden Silence

    “Oh, you think all black men are ..[something muffled]…”, getting very close to me and saying “you think you so smug,”

    I hate it when Black harassers (it happens with all harassers as well) play the race card with that mess. I’m the same also Black and with me it’s “You think you’re White” and “You think you too good to talk.” I hate it when harassers use racism to justify their sexism.

    I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. I feel NYC is making leaps and bounds in handling harassment, and DC is right behind doing the same.

  3. B

    Seconded. Thank you for sharing your story, I feel the same frustration and helplessness, and though I can’t say I know the answer, I can say you have my support.