We’ve tagged and categorized all of the street harassment stories we’ve received since 2009, and WOW they have revealed some fascinating trends, like how women are more likely to be harassed on public transit (particularly waiting at bus stops), at bars/clubs, and in certain neighborhoods. They’ve also revealed what we already know: it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, what time of day it is, and whether you’re alone or in a group, street harassment is pervasive.
But, we also found success stories where a bystander stepped in to deescalate a situation. Those stories give us hope.
A sampling of some stories over the past seven years (trigger warning for a few of these):
“I was at a bar along with some friends, dancing on and off to the live DJ music. As inevitably happens, a man came up to me during one of my breaks to invite me to dance – he didn’t say anything, merely holding out his hand. I declined with words – “no, thank you” – and looked away. Nothing noteworthy, except that – you guessed it! – he wouldn’t take no for an answer…In total, I had to rebuff him about five times, and while to most this might seem like a harmless scenario, it isn’t: having my explicit refusal repeatedly ignored mirrors the harassment dynamic, and puts the woman in the position of either appearing rude or giving in to pressure to get it over and done with.” – Bar in NE, 1/06/14
“A man sat behind me on a Metro train car that had just been vacated by the other passengers and masturbated into my hair. I only noticed when I became aware that he stood up, when I felt my hair move slightly, and felt something wet on my shoulder.” – Red Line train between Twinbrook & Rockville, 5/30/16
“I was standing outside with my friends outside of the bar and a man came back and smacked my butt. I was frazzled and wasn’t sure what to say but said something like ‘hey, you can’t touch my ass.’ He kept walking and looked back smiling/laughing at me.” – Adams Morgan, 5/13/13
“I noticed a man leaning out the passenger side window of a car leering at me and licking his lips. I asked him, ‘What the fuck are you staring at?’ He replied, ‘Damn, nice legs baby. And you’ve got a mouth on you, I like that.’ Then [he] said to the driver of the car (loudly, clearly intending for me to hear) ‘I would tear that shit UP.’ I flipped him off, then did my best to ignore him as the car drove slowly beside me for the next several blocks, staring at me the entire time. When I sped up, they sped up; when I stopped, they stopped. I was worried that they would follow me all the way home, so I looked for a store to stop in and wait for them to pass, but I was in the middle of a stretch of residential blocks. I shouted at them a few times to leave me alone, but each time the man laughed and seemed to be enjoying my obvious anger/discomfort.” – Between Columbia Heights and Woodley Park, DC, 4/9/14
“When I looked over, he was holding a newspaper over his lap, but had his penis exposed and was stroking it. He briefly looked me in the eye and continued stroking his penis. I turned away and moved to another seat, where I took a picture of his face to report to the Metro Transit Police. This is not OK.” – Red to Silver Line, 12/15/15
“I was walking my dog down R St. and was in the middle of the block b/w 13th and 14th when I thought I heard a hissing sound seemingly out of the blue. As I turned my head a man on his bike smiled as he realized he got my attention, laughed and then said ‘hey, baby.’ His smile turned to a growl as he continued to pass me by with an angry ‘fuck you bitch!’ at my lack of response. When that happened I immediately looked around to see if anyone else was close by and that’s when I felt threatened as I did not see anyone on the block. But he continued to bike on as I continued to walk my dog.” – 13th and R Sts, NW, 11/22/11
“I had just ordered my food, and I was walking with my toddler to sit down at a table. A man came extremely close to me as though he was going to touch me saying “Come here,” and “What’s your name?” I responded, “I am having dinner with my toddler. Please leave me alone.” and tried to rush past him. A staffer came over and asked me, “Do you know this man?” When I replied “not at all,” he physically stepped between us, said something calmly and quietly to the man who was harassing me, and he escorted the man out. I’m shaken up by the experience, but so grateful for the bystander who intervened.” – Ben’s Chili Bowl, 10/22/15
My Streets, Too is a powerful resource, and we hope you continue to share your stories with us. They not only empower us and show that we are not alone, but they also can help make the case for real policy change in our city (for example, check out some testimonies from the first-ever DC Council roundtable specifically addressing street harassment and assault).
A member of our team is also now dedicated to following up with you when you submit a story (if you choose not to be anonymous) to provide resources.