Standing Up to My Harassers

Every now and then I will make a trip out from VA to DC to visit my best friend Ashley, who lives in the NW region of DC. I was in the city for the fourth of July weekend, and the incident happened on Sunday, July 3rd. We had plans to pick up a friend who was visiting from San Antonio and in Centerville for a few days, so we made a quick stop to get gas before driving out. As i went inside the gas station, I noticed that there was a man standing by the register with jumper cables. His glaring made me feel so uncomfortable that I checked my surroundings and realized that it was just me, him and the sales clerk. Then the man started rubbing the jumper cables on my lower back while i was paying for gas, yet the sales clerk did absolutely nothing. I turned around and gave him a look of disbelief, this only caused him to say “i love you” and to try to touch me again… At this point i was completely disgusted and walked out. My friend who was waiti ng in the car could tell that something was wrong and asked me what had happened. My immediate response was to say ” There was a man who made me feel uncomfortable..” Before I could finish my sentence, she asked me ” Did he touch you?!” Still feeling totally disrespected, I could only say “well.. yes..” I tried to remain calm while i was pumping gas, but I was nervous because Ashley got out of the car, without thinking twice and not to mention in heels to confront this scum bag!.. She started out with “Hey! I am talking to you.. did you touch my friend? Don’t you ever touch my friend again!” That was the only part without any profanity and the creep had the nerve to follow her outside. He started saying he never did anything to me, and it was his jumper cables. Like they had a mind of their own, or like he even had a car to jump!… I tried to remain calm, and got in the car without responding to his gibberish insults. When we were both inside the car, he ran over and trie d to start harassing my friend. She pulled out her cell phone and let him know that she was calling the police, which worked like a charm because the jerk started to walk away from the car. The coward finally had the nerve to try and throw an empty bottle of juice at the car as we were driving off. The fact that the sales clerk at this gas station did absolutely nothing was just pathetic and sad. Even though this was an experience that I would have liked to avoid, the fact that my AMAZING friend stood up for me taught me a huge lesson.

The very next night, while out with a group of friends at the Black Cat I had a disgusting loser come up and grab my butt. Instead of avoiding another confrontation, I went up to him and called him out in front of his friends. I asked him what made him think he could do that, and let him know that he had made a big mistake by doing so. I went on and on even though he kept apologizing and was really embarrassed. One of his female friends called him out for being disrespectful, and when my guy friends got involved i finally it go.

All in all i realized that more women need to be brave and to call these guys out on their bad behavior because we deserve to be treated with respect!….

Submitted by GIV on 6/10/2011

Location9th between O and N St NW

Time of harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)

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4 Responses

  1. cathy

    i’m glad you felt you could talk back, good for you! also, when you’re in a bar or a club you can talk to management or the bouncer to have someone removed. i’ve done that. it feels awesome. 🙂

  2. Omega

    And I think back to when I was in junior high while standing at the bus stop (Potomac Avenue) a man who I rolled my eyes at, got in my face telling me he’d cut up my pretty face so no man would want to talk to me. Mind you I was about 13 at the time.

    So, what do you do? Tell them off and risk a possible violent confrontation? Keep quite unless you’re with friends? What ….. ?

    GIV, I can’t begin to imagine how violated you felt at that gas station. Your second run in I bet you were standing tall with shoulders back. The art of simply going out and not being harassed. Is it even possible?

    When you said how the idiot at the gas station threw a bottle at the car. It reminded me of a close friend of my sisters. She was about to cross the street which would have taken her a few steps from her front door. Before she could do that a car full of young guys drove up trying to holla at her. She ignored them, started crossing the street, one of them yelled at her, she turned her head in their direction to make sure no one was getting out of the car. And what happened? One of them threw a glass bottle at her which literally shattered in her face. She screamed, they drove off and fast forward to now …. she has lost vision in one eye. Her whole life affected by that one incident.

    I don’t have an answer because even ignoring some of these idiots can still cause violence.

  3. Anonymous

    @Omega I read you comment and I got chocked up because I have been through serious harassment experiences which cause me to rarely leave my home alone at the age 27. I am a prisoner in my house. The people who do this are truly dangerous if they’re out to hurt you, they will find a way. I remember when I was about 19 I walked past some guys with an another female and one said hi. I didnt hear but my friends responded I guess he wanted me to respond cause I then hear, ‘Bitch you didn’t hear me talking to you, you big headed bitch,. You ugly as shit and I was only talking to you cause of you ass anyway’. I received this b/c was silent. Two years ago I was in DC and three teenagers approached me they looked sketchy and I took a step back from them. Because I did this one threw a coin at me. It could have been worse but I had already received various harassments and I reacted by pulling my switch blade. All 3 ran but one threatened that he had a gun and would shoot me (not even the one who threw the coin). I’ve had a guy stare me down in convenience store but not say anything and I completly ignored him and walked by…guess what? He followed me out side and started cursing me out for absolutley no reason at all saying ‘you funky ass bitch who the fuck do you think you are coming in here like that you better keep fuckin walkin’. I’m sorry but people like this are of no use to society and should be removed from society if that mean incarceration then so be it. There is no reason to verbally and phyiscally attack someone just because you can get away with it. Who is raising these people? The worst harassment I experienced (which I have already submitted) was a guy harassing me and then pulling a gun on me and my brother when my brother told him to leave me alone(who turned out to be an off duty cop). It’s like there’s nothing you can do, if you’re passive you may get attacked, if you speak up you may get attacked. I just avoid avoid avoid now. I’ve had enough bad incidents to last a lifetime.

  4. B.

    Ah, the gas station on 9th St. I know it well– I used to live around the corner from there.

    First of all, I’m really sorry all of this happened to you. It does indeed seem impossible to be in DC without *something* happening– I feel ya.

    There are 2 things that struck me about your narrative:

    1) The shock. Time and time again when these things happen to us, no matter how many times we’ve experienced them before or how often we tell ourselves we’ll be ready the next time, we simply go into shock. –Which is exactly what happened to you with this creep. To be honest, for as much as I appreciate the amount of self-defense classes dedicated to teaching women how to protect themselves, I’ve never met anyone who can teach me how to deal with the shock of being harassed or violated; nobody who can give me the tools to fight the shock first, and then fight the predator. The shock in and of itself is a predator, because it paralyzes you and then it’s too late. You don’t actually come-to enough to get angry and do something until hours after the incident, and then they’re gone.

    In an odd way, you were “lucky” that you had a 2nd incident so close to the 1st incident because you were still in that post-shock, pissed off, adrenalized state, so you were actually prepared to deal with the ass-grabber as a result of the jumper cables guy. I’m not glad you were harassed a 2nd time, but I’m happy that the timing of it worked out so that you were empowered enough to fight back. Had the ass grabbing happened a few weeks after the jumper cables, you probably would have reacted with shock again.

    2) What I find fascinating time and time again is harassers’ reactions to us when we do fight back. In any other situation, if someone is attacked it makes perfect social and psychological sense to fight back. But in the case of men harassing women, when the women fight back the men get indignant the way royalty would react to a servant refusing to fetch their tea. To me, this shows a deep rooted and fundamental attitude that women are subservient and supposed to just “take it,” and that fighting back somehow justifies punishment. –And it is frightening to realize that.

    ……..I’m not sure if that will ever change, and if it will, what it will take.

    At the end of the day, every girl needs to exercise good judgment when considering fighting back. If you were alone in that gas station parking lot, I’d caution you against fighting back. But I think the reaction in the club was very appropriate since there were others around. It’s hard, because we want to always be able to fight back. But sometimes, sadly, fighting back may only endanger us more.

    As I tell everyone who posts here, I carry pepper spray with me everywhere I go here. And while you have to be careful when using it, I think every woman in this town would benefit from having it with them at all times.

    Stay strong, and best of luck enforcing this new found empowerment in the future!