14 years old- I was in a Barnes and Noble with my mother. She was an aisle ahead of me. I wore a dress, had bleach blonde hair, and my braces shined through my lips. A large man approached me, state he was 24 and asked me to leave the store for a beer date at his place. His hands on my shoulders, I used excuses like 'I have a boyfriend'. He wouldn't give up the persistence to leave with him. It wasn't until my mother interjected and shared my age that the man evaded.
15 years old- I stood in the line of a Panera with my mother, again. She talked to me about her day, when over her shoulder I couldnt help notice the 50+ year old man staring at my chest. Anger and frustration boiled, and I bravely said " HI. Yes, you sir- staring at my chest. How can I help you? I'm 15 and you're older than my father, turn around." My mother was proud but sadden by the fact it required any statement at all.
18 years old- I met a boy in my first college class. He seemed nice and involved in the college, so I happily attended his fraternity party. When I showed up with a friend, he soon became angry. Angrier, when we stopped accepting the drinks he was giving. When we left early he insisted on walking us back to our dorm. Following us the entire way, we tried to leave him at the entrance gates- where he said he "wasn't comfortable until he knew we were safe inside". Too trustworthy, we let him in- he collapsed on the couch and made himself a nest for the night. In the morning when I woke up to get ready for class, he suddenly sprung up, as if he had just been lying there awake. Waiting for me to come out. He pressed me up against a wall, kissing me in places I hadn't consented. He held my hands above my head, locked to the wall by the firm grip of his left hand, as he kissed my neck and I calmly asked him to stop. It wasn't until he forced his hand down my shirt and tried to guide me into my shower that I realized I was in danger. My multiple "no's" and "please stops" were not enough. It wasn't until I threatened him with "I'll scream if you don't stop and wake my roommate up", that he gave up on his actions, gathered his things, and called me a 'stupid freshman bitch' as he left.
18 years old, same semester- a good friend of mine, if not a best friend at the time, took advantage of a vulnerable moment of mine. I blacked-out for the first time, and was explained a different story than the truth. It wasn't until months later, that I found out my male best friend, had lied to me for his own benefit. Things turned so tumultuous, it's someone I fear to this day.
19 years old, I had just transferred schools. Attending my dream college then, I was so excited to get involved. I attended a fraternity party of a boy whom I was talking, with a trusted girlfriend. One of the brothers offered me and my friend a tour of the house roof (a hang out spot), we gladly accepted and began eagerly climbing up the ladder as instructed. That same brother took me climbing up the ladder as an invitation to stick his hands up my shorts and grab my bare ass. I halted in shock and jumped down. Both my friend and date (a member of the frat) had witnessed it. My friend and I, unleashed on the brother about the inappropriate invasion of his actions, until we were interrupted by my date who said "I mean, can you really blame him? You've got a nice ass".
20 year old, I lost a best friend to lust. After 6 years of friendship, he felt I owed him something, at the least. My lack of sexual willingness upset him and caused resentment. As if my person meant nothing, and only the hope of bodily fulfillment.
20 years old, I moved to a new city, Denver Colorado for an internship. I couldn't walk alone at night, because of men on the streets with cat calls and grabs. It wasn't safe. On a Saturday night, I found myself at a gas station after a long night at work. I was pumping gas, on my phone headset with a friend when a man approached asking me for money. I replied "No I'm so sorry, I don't carry cash" to which he grabbed my forearm tightly and replied "Bitch, I know you have something". I used my free hand to grab my pepper spray key chain and extend directly towards his eyes, and shouted "GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME. I AM ON THE PHONE WITH FAMILY AND THEY KNOW WHERE I AM. BACK AWAY". Once he ran away, I pulled out of the station just to park along side of the highway to gather myself.
21 years old, I met the best men in my life. The group of men who are now my everything, who give my comfort and solace in life. I have been so lucky to have them and their understanding, but their presence hasn't stopped these things from happening.
22 years old, I'm back in Colorado. I am walking through college-town bar lines asking people my age "Hey, are you registered to vote?". One night, very close to election, the bar lines were rowdier than usual. Typically I can ward off rude comments as ' just another drunk teen', but this time was different. I asked one individual "are you registered to vote at your current address?", they lured me in with what seemed like interest in democracy. As I got close, they pulled me by the waist and grabbed my ass, attempting to keep a tight grip and maintain our closeness. I stopped all conversation, broke away, and walked off- only to hear his words trail behind "It doesn't matter babe, this is Trump's America!"
23 years old, I'm back in Houston. I'm running errands at the end of a long work day. I take a trip to the Galleria for shopping, where I'm approached by 3 strangers trying to flirt- 2 of who do not leave alone, even upon my firm request. I'm followed around the mall. Such an uncomfortable space is created for me, that I give up on my shopping needs and leave. Post my Galleria trip, I am annoyed and hyper aware of my surroundings. As I head to Kroger to get my groceries, all I can think about is how much I don't want to be bothered. I enter the store at 8:15pm, put headphones in and just let my shopping begin. I leave the store around 9:30pm, take my headphones out, and check my surroundings as I prepare to walk to the back of the dark lot towards my car. As I leave through the only store entrance/exit and cross the street to the parking lot, I notice out of my peripheral that there's someone trailing behind me. So, I pause in the light of the exitway and turn around to stare at the man, who I assume is homeless and going to approach me for money. After 2 minutes of staring and him redirecting his trail, I assume I'm being paranoid and continue northbound in the parking lot. As I do so, I again notice him trailing behind me. To determine if he is following me, I make way across the lot diagonally- and yes, he is still following. About 2 yards away and gaining. I then thrust my cart as a buffer between us, and start creating a zig zag path between cars- and YES, HE IS STILL FOLLOWING. I increase my speed, so does he. I don't stop until a new shopper pulls in to a near by spot. I then position myself and my cart by the nearby car with an active person, turn towards the man and yell "HEY YOU, IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE FOLLOWING ME!!". His only response, was to run the moment I turned towards him. This tells me, that his following only had cruel intentions. Who knows what could have happened, had I not been paying attention.
The last incident I transcribed, happened 2-4 weeks ago and I no longer feel safe just being out alone at night, even in my own apartment complex. I walk with pepper spray in one hand and my car keys between each knuckle in my other. I live with a daily fear, from what my life experiences have taught me so far. That's only even mentioning the fear I experience being out in public alone. Nothing about the workplace discrimination or the male to female abuses I've experienced in my romantic relationships.
I'm not unique. This incidents did not, and have not, happened to just me. ff
Want to know the worst part about it? Literally every single woman in my life has an almost identical list of events from their life. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I've been so blessed to (recently) have male figures in my life who stand up against these types of actions, but so many are not as lucky. So, to all the men in my life and those in yours, I hope they listen. This is a simple campaign with one big mission- to act and no longer be silent.