Street Harassment Season Begins!

Yesterday I experienced some of the worst sexual harassment I’ve had happen to me in a long time. I was standing on a corner, waiting to cross the street, and a man walks up to me and asks me if I’m married. I said yes, hoping the conversation would end there, which of course was wishful thinking. He asks for my phone number, I say “I’m married” again. Then, for about 5 minutes he proceeds to barrage me with questions asking if I will perform various sex acts on him, or him on me (i.e., “can I eat your pussy”, “can I fuck you in the ass”, on and on), while I’m waiting to cross. At one point he asked me if he turned me on, which earned him another “no”, but I hesitated because I didn’t want to piss him off and have him go off on me. He described sex acts I didn’t even know existed, and that’s pretty hard. He made comments about my body, my boobs, my ass, my pussy, etc. The light finally changed and I walked extremely quickly back to work, which was luckily not too far away. He followed me for a bit but thankfully went off in another direction.

This guy is homeless and hangs out around my work all the time. So now I have to be careful where I go, and make sure when I go for my walks, I use a main street. I actually filed a police report, which I didn’t even know you could do for street harassment. The police were really nice to me and the cop gave me his personal number and told me to put it in my phone so if he harassed me again I could call him right there. Although I feel kind of silly saying this (which says a lot about how women are socialized to accept this shit), it was actually a traumatic experience. I found myself depressed and anxious for the rest of the day. It was just really disgusting and demeaning. Which of course, is the essence of street harassment.

I called the police because I didn’t want to do nothing and have him continue to harass other women. Although I doubt just being talked to by the cops would make him stop, I just had to do SOMETHING, and I felt better knowing the law was on my side. I called to report that I knew where he was (because they were looking for him since he left the area where it occurred) and two police officers responded. My SO, who works with me, was extremely angry and decided he was going to take a picture of the guy next time he saw him so we could show the police what he looked like. His first impulse was to find him and beat the crap out of him (a nice thought, but I didn’t particularly want him to go to jail), so I redirected his passion to getting a picture of him. And he did, so I’m going to e-mail it to the cop.

I’m telling this story because it helps me to get it out, and because I wanted to share that I had a positive experience with the police in this situation. So if you are the victim of street harassment, calling the cops isn’t always a bad idea if you know the person stays in the same general area. I was surprised at how quickly they responded. But I suppose the police treatment you’ll get depends on your locale, so keep that in mind.

As my sis Snarky said, summer started early for me this year.

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  • http://kelly.hogaboom.org/ Kelly

    I'm sorry this happened and that does sound traumatic. You and your SO are doing/did a good thing. Wish I had more intelligent or helpful commentary besides: ugh.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Thank you! Kind words are just fine :)

  • http://www.icedteaandlemoncake.wordpress.com icedteaandlemoncake.

    i'm sorry this happened. i had a pretty traumatic sexual harrassment experience last year at this time where a guy at a bar wouldn't stop flirting with me, and when i made my boundaries clear, started rubbing his body against me. when i elbowed him and told him to fuck off, he got all scary mad and insulted. i was later told that i just hated men. i was scary uncomfortable around guys for a long time after that and i wouldn't let any near me. ugh. i just don't have any trust any more.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Yeah, it does make you more wary of guys. I'm usually really nice to homeless people and if I have cash I'll help them out, but I've never experienced anything like this from any of the local homeless people around here.

  • http://fatheffalump.wordpress.com sleepydumpling

    I'm sorry you have experienced this – I have too and I know how frightening and invasive it feels.

    I am so glad you reported it. So often these cretins do this over and over again, with no report of it. Quite often, their behaviour escalates to worse and worse offences. Until what is finally reported to police is a rape or murder, and this is the only offence they have on the perpetrator. At least when women report it from the get-go, the police can keep an eye on the offender, and have something other than that one extreme offence on the creep. At least with this, it can be compiled into repeat offences. So often with the "first offence" they're given a slap on the wrist and sent out again. This way, his first offence is on the record now, anything further is going to add to that rap sheet.

    I hope this is the last you encounter him and any like him.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      I'm just really hoping I don't run into him again. I was surprised that you could report this kind of thing. I figured it was just something women had to live with.

  • Piffle

    *hugs* Well only if you want them :)

    Sorry this happened to you, it's traumatic. Very glad to hear your police responded so well, that's great. Congrats to your SO on getting the photo.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Thanks for the virtual hugs :) They are much needed.

  • MH

    Horrible. I would be traumatized too. (And unfortunately probably berating myself for feeling traumatized). I am extremely relieved to hear that the police took this seriously. I had something similar happen several years ago but the police just blew me off. So sorry you had to go through this.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      I was berating myself for feeling traumatized, too. I think that's what's so insidious about street harassment. I'm sorry the cops blew you off. I thought they'd do that to me too.

  • http://www.atchka.com Atchka!

    In cases like this I think a good ol' fashioned tazing is called for.

    A tazer to the nutsack would straighten him out right quick.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Ahh, don't I wish I had a tazer.

  • karen

    I'm thinking pepper spray. This was really more of a sexual assault than harrassment. Spray that mf. I'm very sorry you had to endure this.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Thanks for the sympathy. I used to have pepper spray but it expired or something.

  • dulce16

    Last year Valentine's Day I was followed home by a street harrasser. I had to walk past my building to the nearest pay phone so he wouldn't know where I lived I called the cops and started yelling for all my friends to come to they're windows and down stairs. It took him awhile but he eventually ran off. I'm still afraid to go outside at night.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      That's awful, how scary must that have been! At least this happened to me in broad daylight.

  • http://www.wicked-whimsy.com Michelle

    That's terrible. I'm glad the cops responded well, I've heard a lot of stories of people calling the cops & getting no response whatsoever. I hope it doesn't happen again and that you can feel safe again.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      I haven’t seen him around lately, so it’s been good. I just try to use major streets when walking and stay away from the coffee shop he hangs out in front of.

  • http://www.mamacarriemakes.wordpress.com MamaCarrie

    Gah! I'm so sorry that happened to you.
    Yay positive police experiences!
    I'm so ready for all this bs to disappear, and wake up in perfect utopia land of perfection, where everyone is different and it's OK and we are all allowed to just be without harassment.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Seriously! Unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon.

  • Jerome

    How awful. I'm so sorry you had to put up with that bullshit.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Thank you!

  • maggie

    I still remember a few instances of street harassment that felt worse than usual. Don't feel silly for it, it's not outlandish to be shaken by it, and the police definitely can't help if they don't know.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Yeah, I'm doing a lot better now and I am grateful for the police support. I put the cop's number in my phone.

  • http://www.icedteaandlemoncake.wordpress.com icedteaandlemoncake.wordpress.com

    glad you’re doing better, tasha!

  • http://quantumacceptance.wordpress.com AcceptanceWoman

    Thank you for talking about this and describing what you did to handle it.
    My sense is that good cops do care about stuff like this — they see their job as protecting the community, and also getting help (which might mean jail because that's how the system works, I think) for the perpetrators so they don't keep perpetrating.
    There are mental illnesses that can cause people to be hypersexual and when they are treated, they are able to control their impulses better. So a cop knowing that a homeless person who may be mentally ill (I can't diagnose it or know for sure, it's a possibility) is not getting treatment that leads him to endangering others allows that cop to take action.

    Depending on your locale is right, but if there's a well-run, community-engaged community policing program in place, the police can be great allies.

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