Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia MO, Columbus, Des Moines, Durham & Chapel Hill, East Lansing, Fredericksburgh VA, Houston, Los Angeles, Muncie IN, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh, Richmond VA, San Francisco, Tucson, Twin Cities
Several months ago I posted a story here about my rapist always turning up when I am out to lunch or the grocery store or anywhere really. Back in 2001 or 2002 we had dated for a few months, and he had raped me as I was trying to break up with him. At the time, I wrote him a letter detailing what he had done and telling him that he needed to stay away from me, that I wouldn’t be returning any communications from him, and that he was to stay away from certain places I needed to go as well as leave any place where he ran into me. But in the months after the assault, it was as if my list of demands had just become his recipe for the best way to terrorize me. He stalked me. He showed up where I was any time he could and made intimidating body language, facial expressions, and comments. I had to move out of state to get away from him but got homesick and moved back only to have it all start all over again. When I got back I found out that he had done this to multiple other women while I was away. The sight of him jolted me with a surge of violent rage every time I ran into him for over a decade. I was wracked with guilt for not reporting it, allowing him to go unpunished and continue to hurt more people. I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it to myself for as long as possible, because I was completely mortified to have anyone know that I had gotten myself into such a predicament. I refused to admit to even myself that I had been raped. It’s only been within the last year or two that I have called it rape. It has only been within the last year or two that I have told anyone about what happened, and it hasn’t been mortifying. It has been anxietizing for sure, but it’s been worth it. I have told a lot of trusted people, and now a lot of trusted people have my back. We have been able to have conversation about what helps and what doesn’t. Now when he walks into the coffee shop that I am at and my back is to the door, whomever I am with, they will warn me and give him a glare with a different kind of warning. And it’s working! It took me over a decade to start telling people, but once I did, it only took a few months for him to realize that a lot of people have my back and that he is not going to be able to get away with terrorizing me anymore. And lately, he has begun to respect my demands. A few days ago, this exact scenario happened, and he left! I know he is not doing this because he has finally acknowledged that what he did was wrong or because he suddenly cares about my comfort when I am in public. He is doing this because bystander intervention works! Because he has gotten the message over and over again that what he is doing will not be allowed to continue. I feel relieved. I feel supported. I feel like I am in control of my own experiences.
The minute I turned 21, I made a special effort to hit Lucky’s every Wednesday last spring semester for liquor pitcher night. It used to be my favorite thing about the week…until one night when my friend group was harassed three times in under two hours.
Last week, Lucky’s was packed wall-to-wall, which was surprising because school was still a week away. My friends and I had managed to get a table, but not without consequence. A large group of males were invading our space, throwing their drink straws down on the table and setting their pitchers wherever they pleased. Annoyed, I asked the nearest guy if he could give us a bit of space. I got a condescending response in return: “Oh, I’m sorry, this is clearly YOUR space, I’ll move.”
A few minutes later, another white male plopped down in the empty space next to my two female friends who happen to be dating. The guy attempted to make conversation, but feeling protective, I politely said to him that we did not know him and I would prefer that he left. Not liking my answer, he proceeded to inform me of how nice of a guy he was and that he was not about to “rape us”; he just wanted to be “friends.” The verbal assault escalated when he finally got up and tattled to his friends about how mean I was being, and that I was a slut. One friend I was with managed to get a few pictures of him during his extremely loud rant that detailed how horrible we were for making him leave; I’ve included one here.
The worst part came a little later in the night, probably around midnight. Again, a guy sat beside my two female friends and instead of respecting the fact that they’re together, he mocked their relationship after being rejected from sitting there and very loudly asked “Who wears the strap on??”
At this point, my friend and I had absolutely had enough of this guy and we both yelled at him to leave after his stupid comment. But instead of just getting up and leaving us the hell alone, he went to his friends who were standing a few feet away and continued to make nasty homophobic comments (“this butch won’t shut the hell up”) about my one friend, whose appearance is more androgynous. I even shoved him at one point when he got in my friend’s face and made advances toward her. Unfortunately, that got me into trouble, when the bartender (who knows my friend group fairly well, as we were regulars during the week) told US that if we didn’t stop fighting, we would all get thrown out. I explained to the bartender the situation, but his defense was “I can’t just throw him out, I don’t know what happened.” He later apologized and asked if the guy was still bothering us, but still no action had been taken.
I did my best to defend my friends, but because I am a woman, I was dismissed by the harasser. “Don’t you know what the First Amendment is? I can say whatever I want. I’m not listening to you anymore. Shut up.” It was a truly disheartening and awful moment in a bar that I actually liked going to with my friends.
As a side note, my two friends are frequent targets of harassment, and not just by men. Athens is supposed to be very LGBTQ friendly, but last week’s Lucky’s night was a complete disaster and proof that there’s way more work to do in terms of acceptance and respect.
I was walking with my girlfriend back to my home and I heard a couple of comments from the second floor apartment. The comments were “hi sexy take off your shirt”, “have you ever been with a porn star because one is right here to have some fun” and “Hey guys, the girls are almost drunk enough to fuck!” These comments were the ones I was able to hear a couple of blocks from the location. I want people to be aware of this location because this could possibly escalate into a worse things such as actions as opposed to just words.
I went for my morning jog early, around 4AM, because I couldn’t sleep. Almost everyone had gone home by then, except for one group of people out on their balcony who yelled “HEY HEY HEY SEXY” at me until I told them to go fuck themselves. Then, they yelled “slut” and “bitch” at me until I was far enough down Mill Street that they couldn’t hear me. That stretch of street is awful. I usually take a ridiculous route to the bike path just to avoid it, even in the summer.
So I recently buzzed my hair. All of my friends have been really supportive of my decision. I haven’t actually experienced any problems because of it before last night. I went out to liquor pitches at Lucky’s to meet some friends who were already there. After stepping into the crowd, almost immediately a girl I’ve never met before walks up to me and puts her hand on my head, while saying, “Oh my god, can I touch your hair?” I pulled away and said, “No” and kept pushing into the crowd looking for my friends.
I stopped in the middle of the crowd to look around, and I suddenly felt a large hand on the back of my head and I whirl around. Imagine the following conversation talking place by yelling, because it’s super loud and crowded in Lucky’s. There’s a bro-ish looking guy there who looks dumbfounded at me and goes, “Your hair is so short.” I am notoriously bad at dealing with people in these situations, so I blurted out, “Fuck off.” He looks taken aback and goes, “Woah, you don’t have to be a bitch about it. I was just gonna tell you that you still look hot.” I’m really mad, so I just say, “It’s so rude to touch people without asking them. And I don’t care how you think I look.”
Fortunately I spotted my friends while talking to him, and as soon as I got over to them, they were also talking about leaving because there were too many people. We left pretty quickly, and I did tell my friends that people touched my head without asking, but I’m weirdly embarrassed about giving them further details. It just felt so uncomfortable.
I take for granted how wonderful my friends are, because they always ask before they touch my hair, or even hold my hand or something. But two people in close proximity touching my hair without asking felt so gross, especially because the guy felt the need to reassure me he still found me attractive.
Thank god drunk bros in Lucky’s find me attractive with buzzed hair, that was definitely a concern of mine
First time at Lucky’s: It was alright, I like to get my groove on when I’m feeling well enough. Well, this guy I had consensual sex with once, then he date raped and hit me a time after the initial consensual sex was there, very close in my gf’s space, and I give her “THE EYES,” you know, like “AVOID AVOID!” So the guy sees me and comes up to me and asks if he knew me. I, of course, tell him that yes he does, and to stay THE FUCK away from me. Of course, this guy won’t let up. i eventually tell him.. he says he “is so confused” and “just doesn’t know what is happening” he continues to bother my friend and I. I tell him to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME. I move to another area of the bar. He follows me, “still confused.” I tell him if he doesn’t leave us alone, I will get a bouncer, which I end up having to do. I explain the situation to the bouncer, guy gets questioned. Guy denies. Guys girlfriend (who he cheated on when the occurrence happened- I did not know and would not betray my fellow womyn like that) denies anything.
The bouncer misheard and thought he had hit me that night. I tell him no, he did not, but he is harassing me (I’m in tears at this point) and to please get the guy to leave. Bouncer of course refuses, I tell him he is encouraging rape culture and violence in our town and that the establishment is disgusting, he tells the guy to “move to the other side of the bar.” the guy lingers at the jukebox for the rest of the time so I can’t go to the bathroom, or get another drink without passing him. My other gf offers to throw her pitcher at him, a guy friend offers to beat him up. I refused the violence because that isn’t how this should be solved, I refused the pitcher throwing because I didn’t want to get kicked out… Lesson of day: let your girlfriends throw pitchers at shitty rapists, who cares if you get kicked out of Lucky’s. Have not and will not return.
This happened a few days ago. I was on the road with my band, traveling from last our show in Pittsburg to our next show in Columbus. We stopped for gas somewhere between Wheeling and Zanesville. When we pulled in, the area seemed pretty deserted, except for one guy at one of the four pumps. He eyed our Subaru Forester packed to the gills with three women and all of our music equipment as we pulled in. I was braving a skin tight mini dress for the first time in my life, but this guy looked like trouble, so I threw on a baggy t-shirt over it before I got out of the car, as if it would somehow protect me from his eyes. It wasn’t enough. As I crossed the smelly concrete into the station, he blatantly stared at my behind. He started to open his mouth as if he were about to say something to me. I made the meanest face I could muster at him, shook my head no, and kept walking. I didn’t need to Hollaback! He seemed to get the message. He looked away embarrassed and left quickly. The thing that sticks out to me the most about this exchange is how regular of an occurrence things like this are that I swiftly and instinctually covered myself without even thinking about it, and that I didn’t even mention it to my band mates.
Thursday evening I went up to the Union to hear some music. I noticed this guy eyeing me multiple times throughout the night. I was headed toward the water jug from the door, and he was toward the stairs. He reached his arm around me and tickled my ribs as I walked past. I was startled and instantly felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t think fast enough to slap him or head butt him, as everyone suggested I should have done. I DID follow him down stairs and out the door and promptly asked a friend who he was (he had just bummed a cigarette off my pal). My friend didn’t know and another friend over heard me frantically inquiring about the guy. This friend pointed at him and said “Are you asking about this creep? I don’t know who the hell he is, but he was creeping on another friend earlier”. The guy was standing in the circle of my peers and at this point out and comment, split. I didn’t see him for the rest of the night.
I was really stoked to see my friend speak up and call the dude out so directly!