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I’ve got a couple. They bother me mostly because I was a young teenager at the time, and these men were significantly older then I.
One day when I was walking up to the corner store. I was about 13 or 14 at the time and he was about 20. He was in his car. He yelled out “you look damn good, but you’d look a lot better if you were in my car”. 5 minutes later a even older man got out of his car and just said “hello”. Then the 2 men met in the parking lot and started discussing how hot I was. Things like this continued to happen frequently. I started to wear a sweater while doing my paper route. After a while I started giving them the finger…which made some very angry. They would skid and turn around in there car yelling. Eventually I just started ignoring them completely.
There was also the time when I was about 15 or so. I just left a high school dance, it was about 10 pm and a bunch of guys started cat calling at me across the street. At that time my friends and I got into a taxi and I went home. I was crying the entire way home in the cab because a week never went by without being treated like an object.
I was also molested as a young girl and couldn’t take the frustration anymore. I thought I deserved to be treated like an intelligent human being. I am not bothered by cat calls as much anymore because I choose to ignore them, but there are far too many boys and men that think this kind of behaviour is okay and it’s not. It’s annoying, frustrating, and upsetting. It make me angry and makes me feel like crap.
I was walking to a friends place and some young males in a grey car yelled “Fat Bitch” out of the window at me as they drove past. This is not a new experience for me in Halifax, every time it is something about my weight. This is the first time that it has happened in the afternoon, this is something I have experienced more at night or in the evening. My response was to flip them off.
One afternoon in March 2011, I was waiting at a bus stop on Spring Garden Road when I sensed that a person was standing very close to me. I turned around and said “excuse me sir, you’re standing very close to me”. I noticed a couple of other bystanders giving him dirty looks but they said nothing, and everyone else either didn’t notice or ignored his behaviour He looked nervous and mumbled something so I moved to stand several feet away. He continued to watch me from a distance. I waited until the bus driver was about to pull away before jumping on, hoping that he wouldn’t follow me. He did follow me onto the bus though. On the bus he mirrored my movements when I moved to sit farther away from him and he continued to stare. The bus stopped at the mall and I waited until the bus driver was about to close the doors before jumping up and running off the bus. I ran as fast as I could into the mall and he chased me inside.
I ran to the first counter I saw to ask for help but, although I was obviously distressed, was told by a customer waiting in line to get to the back of the line. I ran to the next counter I saw and asked the two employees to call security because a man had been following me. He was not far behind and was standing in front of me before I could convince these two employees to call security. I questioned firmly whether he had been following me but, he just continued asking me to tell him my name and insisting that he knew me. I told him firmly that I would not tell him my name and that he needed to leave me alone. He began to shout that he knew me and continued his insistence that I divulge my name. He had only been standing about 2 feet away from me but at that point he stepped forward and sort of lunged at me, I jumped back and was not touched as a result. A supervisor approached and asked if there was a problem, I again requested that security be called. When the supervisor picked up the phone and said “Security we have a situation…” the man fled out of the store the same way we had run in.
Security took my statement and attempted to locate the man who had chased me but were unable to locate him. The police arrived and they also took my statement and we returned to the store to review the security camera footage so that I could identify this m an. I was questioned more than once by the police whether this man had touched me at any point. I said that I didn’t believe that he had but that he had lunged toward me. I was told that there was nothing they could do for me unless I could positively ID this man and even if I could they would be unable to detain him or charge him unless he came into contact with my person. I questioned this but was told the only thing they could do is open a file and send it to other officers to see if they were familiar with the man and if they could locate him, speak with him and request that he leave me alone. I was told that an investigation was not an option as there were no charges that could be laid until he had touched me in some way. Unhelpfully, they attempted to reassure me by saying this had likely happened because the man thought I was pretty and noted that stalking is very rare and that I shouldn’t concern myself with that possibility.
I told them I wanted a file started and kept in case this man tried to harm me in the future and they told me they would return to the store the following day to retrieve the security camera footage for my file before the tape was erased by the store. Several weeks later I received a call from the police asking if I still wanted the video for my file because they still hadn’t received it from the store. Exhausted, I first said no but within the hour called back to insist that it be obtained for my file which they did the following day.
I now know that there is more than one section of the criminal code which prohibits this man’s behaviour and so an investigation was indeed possible despite being told I could do nothing until or if this man touched me in some way. As a member of the public I trusted the police to know this and to inform me of my rights.
HRM Police have been notified of my experience and have stated that my complaint is being considered by the appropriate people within their organization.
This story actually happened to me last August, and I originally posted it in response to Lindsay’s story.
After I got out of the shower and went to check my e-mails I caught a man leaning through my window. I live in a basement apartment. I wouldn’t have noticed him if he hadn’t whistled at me. Which was super disturbing, as I have no idea how long he was there watching me.
With that stupid wolf whistle, by the time I got dressed and ran outside he was gone.
He left immediately after I noticed him or at least moved away/out of my window. I live in the south end, it was bright and sunny out and the streets were super busy around 3pm. But no one had seen him when I asked folks.
Busy street full of people. He lingered a bit before sauntering off. I wasn’t able to leave the room right away, I was too taken back. Shaken up. Which I’m not use to.
He was practically in my room (basement apt windows are on the ground). I’m normally not a violent person, but I wish I’d been able to get my hands on that jerk.
What kind of person goes around harassing and objectifying people in their homes. The extreme amount of disrespect and utter douche-baggery required to attempt to torment people like that is unbelievable.
I didn’t call the cops because I knew they wouldn’t do anything, but I called them later (after Lindsey responded that the cops told her that they wouldn’t do anything because she was the only one reporting).
Once I did report it an officer came out and took down my info. The initial person who picked up was asking me what I was doing in my apartment naked. I almost hung up, instead I explained that in my FUCKING bedroom I should be able to do whatever I want. The officer was trying to be nice, but he kept mentioning how harmless it was and suggesting it was a youth from the youth centre. (It wasn’t, the man was above 25 and I know the folks at the youth centre) I explained to the officer and phone response person that their behaviour and comments where part of the reason I original reason I didn’t report (and why I then reported it a few days after the fact) I was too traumatized to deal with your B.S.
I told the officer as calmly as possible that had he responded in this way should I have called after it happened I would have hit him. There is nothing innocent or harmless about violating someone and disregarding their autonomy, their bodies, their consent, and their will. Anything done towards another person against their will, is NOT innocent or OK. This is why people don’t report to you. I am a relatively privileged person — I appear white, I come from a middle class background, I attend university, I don’t have a criminal past — and you are still ignoring and dismissing my experience.
Trigger warning: This article will discuss suicide, harassment, bullying, and rape. This can also be expected of current news articles and most other blogs that mention Rehtaeh Parsons.
Rehtaeh Parsons of Cole Harbour isn’t able to share her story with us herself. We learned her name and story along with the rest of Halifax this week, because her parents have shared them online and with the media after her death.
When Rehtaeh was 15, she reported that a group of boys had raped her. One of the boys took a photograph during the alleged assault, and it was shared with others in her school. According to her parents, in the subsequent months she was shunned and harassed by some of her peers. Rehtaeh died of suicide this weekend, at the age of 17.
Rehtaeh’s parents have said that the last year and a half of their daughter’s life were very difficult. They are certain that many of Rehtaeh’s painful experiences could have been avoided if she and her family had received more consistent support.
Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, on CBC Maritime Noon:
I think the thing that meant the most to her, one day a group of guys that she grew up with [inaudible] she knew in elementary school, they came up to her and said “Rehtaeh, we believe you. We know that this happened to you.” They said, “We know that you would never do anything like that, and we believe that those boys raped you, and we just wanted you to know that.”
Glen Canning, Rehtaeh’s father, on his personal blog:
I had to write something about this. I don’t want her life to defined by a Google search about suicide or death or rape. I want it to be about the giving heart she had. Her smile. Her love of life and the beautiful way in which she lived it.
I found out this afternoon my daughter saved the life of a young woman with her heart. How fitting.
The blame for any assault should always lie with the perpetrator. Despite this, public discussion often turns to blaming the victim or her parents, or follows red herrings like sexting, cyberbullying, and underage drinking. All of these deserve attention, but they are not what caused this. The causes of suicide are often complex, and we cannot account for all the factors involved, but the instigating event for Rehtaeh’s trauma was the assault itself. We need to pay attention to how this was able to occur. Sexualized violence is a reality in our schools, in homes throughout our communities, and in public spaces like our streets and the internet, but it doesn’t have to be. We refuse to accept it as an inevitability. Every one of us deserves better.
Beth Lyons at Shameless Magazine:
Where [sic] there elements of bullying in what Parsons endured? Absolutely. Is focusing on “cyber-bullying” as the primary concern brought to light by her death accurate or even useful? No.
When a sexual assault, circulation of documentation of an assault, and vicious victim-blaming for an assault are subsumed into the bullying narrative, it obscures the truth of what happened. If such things are filed away under bullying, we fail to name them as instances of gender-based violence, exploitation, and harassment that are enabled by a culture that minimizes, dismisses, and normalizes violence against women.
Emily Williams at The Chronicle Herald:
We brush off and downplay sexual harassment, saying it was just this or only that. We make excuses for the perpetrators, saying that they were drunk or that their target encouraged them. We mock victims, saying that they are overreacting or that they should have enjoyed the attention. We do not take street harassment seriously, telling women that catcalls are a compliment and that they should just smile and go on their way. We do not speak up, our silence an implied endorsement.
We want justice for all victims of sexualized violence, whether we know their names or not. We want people of all ages to be certain that they can’t hurt others without consequence, and equally certain that if they are harmed by others they will be supported by their communities. We want schools to offer comprehensive education about consent. We want all levels of government to develop an appropriate response to sexualized violence. We want community services to receive sufficient funding so that they don’t have to have months-long waiting lists for vital programs (or cut them altogether).
We need to work together to prevent violent acts from happening in the first place, and not just react to them after the fact.
Two vigils are being planned in Rehtaeh’s memory. The first is tonight 11 April at 7PM, at Victoria Park in Halifax. The second is tomorrow night in Cole Harbour – we will add the location and time as soon as we find that out. Rehtaeh’s family welcomes donations in her name at East Coast German Shepherd Rescue, SPCA and Laing House.
There are so many people who are ready to have your back. You have no idea how many. We’re including a list of resources at the end of this post.
(We’re sure we missed some; give us a shout if you know of others we should add.)
Be bold! Be daring! Be your most awesome self.
Talk with your friends and family about ways to help people out, so that if you’re in a tight spot you don’t have to come up with a solution from scratch. Make sure the people close to you know they can count on you in a crisis. If you’re not there when stuff goes down, but you find out afterwards, offer whatever support you can — be like the friends who stuck by Rehtaeh and the boys who told they believed her.
And if you’re not sure whether someone’s okay or not, ask. “Are you okay?” “Do you need help?” You can use these questions to let people know they’re not isolated, and that you’re a safe person for them to reach out to.
If it’s not safe for you to help someone yourself, if you don’t know how, or if they need more help than you can give them alone, it’s okay to call for reinforcements. You don’t have to do everything. You just have to do something.
Be the person who runs for the teacher, who calls the crisis line, or who talks to other bystanders and says “they’re in trouble; they need our help.” You will be in this position one day, and it could be one of the most important things you ever do.
If you’re in Halifax, you can call one of these numbers for emergency assistance:
I was just finishing up a great run and was walking out the last of it when a car of guys in their early 20′s yelled out their car at me. My first reaction was to give them the finger.
I was looking at the cars while I was walking up to the intersection and a guy rolled down the passenger seat window of a red car and looked at me. I said “get a life” because I thought it was the guy who had yelled. He said “What” and I said “Were you the ones that cat called me.” He said “no”. I apologize as I realized that they were not the ones.
Then I saw the black car of guys who had called. So I pointed at their car and loudly said “Oh these are the ones” Then the light turned green and as I was crossing and their car was moving the back car guys yelled out at me again and I said “Get a life easy!” I am not sure why I said easy it just came out.
You should click through and read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:
Street harassment is a pain, and the reactions to it can be, as well. I remember walking to work one morning (at 9:45am) and having a car pull up beside me and both guys inside gesture for me to take off my headphones. I did, and they proceeded to catcall me and ask me to come for a ride. When I angrily put my headphones back on and started to walk away, they both swore at me and laughed. Later, I told a male friend about it, and he pulled the old “I’d be so flattered if a woman did that to me!” routine. It’s good to talk about why that’s not okay.
Go on and read the whole interview. Kate’s “signature Hollaback” is not to be missed, and is being filed as one of our favourite responses ever.
See, we’re not the only Holla in Canada; there are also Hollaback! sites in Alberta, Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria, and Winnipeg. (rumours of more Canadian holla-sites to come in a couple months; we’re very excited!)
Right now, Hollaback! Ottawa is working tirelessly to bring light to patterns of harassment on their city’s public transit:
Harassment on transit is our 2013 priority. In February, we met with City Hall and OC Transpo officials to discuss the issue and sadly, we did not leave there feeling like it was a priority for the City.
On the weekend, a woman spoke to CTV about her experience of being sexually assaulted on an OC Transpo bus. The woman, Kaleigh Langdon, wanted to tell her story in order to alert other women that harassment is happening on transit.
Sadly, news has come out today that there have been a string of assaults on transit that were all committed by the same man. (No word on whether it’s the same man who assaulted Kaleigh).
People who encounter sexual harassment and sexual assault are too-often discouraged from reporting it through official channels, or even talking about it. Fortunately, there is a growing push to bring light to the extent of the problem so that it can be addressed. The recent arrest has added momentum to public attention on this issue.
Hollaback! Ottawa is joining other groups in their area to plan an open forum about harassment on transit. If you know people in Ottawa who should attend, please tell them to get in touch with their local Holla.
Also, if you’re with us in Halifax and have stories about experiencing harassment on our city transit, please consider sharing your story. We believe you, and you are not alone. You can add your story to our map, start a conversation with people who you know (and trust), or reach out to Avalon Sexual Assault Centre for help.
We hope that Ottawa’s City Hall opens their minds and ears; they have a responsibility to keep transit safe and accessible, to facilitate reports of any harassment that does occur, and to invest effort in keeping these assaults from happening in the first place.
Good luck to our sisters in Ottawa; we’ve got your back!