“I deserve to feel safe while going out.”

Location: Black Cat (14th and U Street NW DC)
Time: Late Night (12am-5am)

On Friday night, I went to the Black Cat for Lady Parts Justice’s Pro-choice Prom – the kind of amazing, progressive fundraising event that Black Cat is known to graciously host. That’s why what happened after the event, when my friends and I headed to the downstairs bar of the Black Cat, was so surprising. My friend and I were sitting at the bar when a group of men approached us.

One of the men started talking to us, but when I made it clear that I definitely wasn’t interested in him or his awful Richard Spencer haircut, he got more physically aggressive. He touched me and roughly grabbed my shoulder, and when I told him to get off of me, he turned to my friend and put his hand on her upper thigh. I pulled his hand off of my friend, which angered him. I told him that it’s not respectful to touch women you don’t know without their consent – he responded by pretending to apologize while forcefully grabbing my shoulder again.  The group surrounded me and my friends.  One of the men pulled up his hoodie and stood inches from me, trying to physically intimidate me.

At that point, I turned to the bartender and requested her assistance. I told her that I probably should have approached her sooner, but that this group of men was getting increasingly aggressive and we needed help. The bartender took it seriously at first, but then another member of the group came up to me, roughly grabbed my shoulder and pressed himself up against my back, and halfheartedly said, “Sorry.” I told the man to get away from me, but he wouldn’t. I looked to the bartender for help. She said something along the lines of that he was attempting to apologize, so there was nothing more she could do. As I recall, she also suggested that I was overreacting. Both she and the other bartender called the manager and refused to assist us any further.

Situations like this can be really confusing for a bartender – they really might not know how to handle it. All of the people involved in this incident had been drinking, including myself. However, my friend and I needed help, and these bartenders did not handle the situation appropriately. For the record, I was inebriated, but I feel like I was pretty calm and collected, and I definitely wasn’t overreacting (I think it’s pretty fair to not want a strange man wearing a smelly wrestling fanboy shirt touching you and breathing down your neck when you’re just trying to enjoy your Friday night).   

Unfortunately, the bartenders did not act appropriately in this situation. They allowed my friend and I to be harassed, and refused to remove the group from the bar. When the bar manager finally spoke with me, she agreed that the situation had not been handled appropriately and promised me that the group had been removed from the bar (they hadn’t) and the bar was being closed early. 

I’m calling out Black Cat for allowing this group of people to sexually harass and intimidate my friends and me. I deserve to feel safe while going out, and until this incident is addressed, I know that Black Cat, no matter how many progressive events they host, isn’t a safe place to be.

Submitted 7/11/17 by “JR”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

Getting harassed inside your own apartment? #NopeDC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location: 12th Street NW between Mass and M
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

I was in my apartment and taking something out of the oven. A fire truck was outside my apartment building since the fire alarm had been going off for an hour or so. Two firemen had been in the ladder which had been extended to the roof. As I was taking the food out of the oven, I heard, “Show me more, show me more!!” I looked over and a white fireman in the ladder was at my apartment windows level. He had a smirk and was giving me the thumbs up sign. My top was hanging a bit loose over my chest as I was reaching down to the oven and I realized he could see.

When I tried to pull the blinds down he yelled, “No pull it up show me more show me more.” When I finally was able to lower the blinds, he said don’t worry I’ll get a view from below.”

I asked to speak to the captain, who was patronizing and said I’ve known this guy for 30 years, he would never do that. He tried to say he was seeing if there was smoke — they firemen had already been to apartments to check if there was smoke. If he was really concerned, he could have asked, is there a fire in your apartment, is there smoke?

Submitted 5/20/17 by “PN”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

Love Is…Respect

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. The month provides a great opportunity to raise awareness about abuse in teen and young adult relationships and promote programs that prevent it – because dating violence is more common than you might think. 

In fact, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence—almost triple the national average—and the rate is even higher for women of color and trans women. These violent relationships have serious consequences for victims, putting them at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide and adult re-victimization.

Want to help spread the word and stop dating violence in our community?

 

Respect Week: February 13th-17th
Go to www.loveisrespect.org/resources/teendvmonth/ to get the National Respect Week toolkit. The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence also sponsoring Respect Week DC during the week, so check out their toolkit for sample social media posts and actions!

Wear Orange for Love: February 14th
Join us in promoting healthy relationships for all young people this February by wearing orange on February 14, 2017 as part of the annual #Orange4Love campaign!

Real Week: February 20th-24th
It’s time to get real about relationships. The good, the bad and everything in between—it’s time to say what’s really on our minds when it comes to teen dating abuse. For more details, go to www.breakthecycle.org/realweek.

Teens Helping Teens: Empowering Young People to Support Each Other: Feb. 23, 4:30 p.m.
Studies show that teens are more likely to go to their friends for help or support. This webinar, aimed at adult allies (educators, parents, youth organizations), will provide information and strategies for teaching young people about healthy relationships and how to support one another. Register here.

Is your organization hosting any events or activities for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month? Tell us in the comments or email claire@collectiveactiondc org and we’ll spread the word!

#DVAM: October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Thousands of advocates, allies, and survivors are speaking up this Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).

Like all forms of abuse, domestic violence is fueled by silence. It thrives when communities do not recognize problematic behaviors or speak out against systematic patterns of power and control; and it is thwarted by awareness, action, and support.

What can you do to spread the word this month and help to end domestic violence? Add your voice to building safer communities by participating in the DVAM Week of Action with us!

October 17 – Media Monday
Participate in the #31n31 campaign challenging perceptions about domestic violence on social media.

October 18 – Twitter Chat
Join a Twitter chat hosted by NNEDV from 2-3pm using the hashtag #CenterEachOther. Questions will be sent out in English from @NNEDV and in Spanish from @WomensLaw.

October 20 – #PurpleThursday
Wear purple to show your support for preventing and ending domestic violence! Share your images with us using #PurpleThursday and tagging @SafeSpacesDC and @DCCADV

October 22 – Shout-Out Saturday
Celebrate the people you admire who speak out for survivors and use their voices to make a difference.

Ongoing Activities
For a full list of ongoing activities for the #SpreadLoveDC campaign (including chalking, social media posts, and more), click here.

We also encourage you to share your stories with us, or seek help and resources from the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV), the National Street Harassment hotline, and D.C.’s crime victims hotline.

Jailed for Self-Defense: How the Criminal Legal System Fails Survivors of Color

October 1st marks the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For me, it also marks four Octobers since I was arrested for attempting to defend myself against an abusive partner. I grabbed a knife to scare him off, and he wrapped his hand around the blade to pull the knife out of my hand. When the police came, he ran outside and said, “She stabbed me.”

We were both arrested: He was arrested for simple assault, and I was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. He showed off his bleeding palm as proof that I had stabbed him, and I was silent, afraid that I was responsible. I spent a full night and the next day in jail, being teased by officers: “You’re the one who stabbed your boyfriend, right?”

We were both released the next day, with no charges, but I learned an important lesson: the right to self-defense does not extend to people who look like me.

And so a month later, when he hit me in the face, I didn’t react. Four months later when he choked me and threw me into a table, I didn’t fight back. Because I knew that women of color are viewed as having no selves to defend.

I’m lucky that I spent only 14 hours in jail. Not like Marissa Alexander, who was incarcerated for three years in Florida for firing a warning shot when her husband threatened her life. Or Gigi Thomas, who is still incarcerated and facing murder charges here in DC for the actions she took to save her own life.

For women of color, the issues of gender-based violence and police brutality are not separate; they are completely intertwined. We are victimized first by our abusers and again by a legal system that views communities of color as criminal and arrests women of color for fighting for our lives.

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It happened again to 15-year-old Bresha Meadows. Her abusive father terrorized Bresha and her family. She tried reaching out for help and reporting the abuse. She tried to find a safe way out. But the system failed her, and she was forced to take matters into her own hands. She killed her father to protect her life, and now she’s in jail awaiting a hearing on October 6th. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, CASS is organizing a letter-writing event at Potter’s House this Sunday at 5pm.

Join me on Sunday to write letters to the prosecutor and ask him to #FreeBresha!

For more stories of women and girls of color jailed for self-defense, check out the anthology No Selves to Defend.

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