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How do you respond to harassment when it seems that the harasser has a mental illness or cognitive disability of some kind? I was just on my way into the laundromat with an arm load of laundry. There was a guy sitting on a bench a couple of stoops down. He called out to me, but I couldn’t quite tell what he was saying. I made eye contact and gave him the same nod and half-hearted/half-guarded smile that I give to every male stranger as well as every acquaintance that I don’t care to speak to. I continued on into the laudromat, and as I turned my back to him in order to enter the building, he called out to me again. Again, I couldn’t quite tell what he was saying, and I just continued into the building. When our eyes met, he seemed benevolent, so I wasn’t anxious about him. I put my laundry in the wash, and then walked out to go do errands. He called out to me again as I was crossing the street, and I noticed that he had some sort of make-shift cast/brace on one of his feet. The laundromat is in the same block with the place you go to get disability money if you are a veteran. Again, I couldn’t tell what he said. I put my hand up, more in a stop sign than a waving sign, and just said hello loudly and nodded as I got into my car. I understand this may have been mixed signals. Then as I drove passed him, he made a disapproving/mischievous face and waved me to come over to him. This is when I started to feel harassed. I suppose people with disabilities and mental illness need to learn that harassing strangers is not okay just like everyone else does and that assertive communication is still a fine route to take. I just feel like a bit more of a jerk for not giving more slack to people who have a bit harder time in life, and I’m interested to hear what other folks think. I decided that if he called out to me again when I went back to get my laundry, I would walk toward him and ask him what he wanted, then make some statement about how continuing to call out to strangers when they’re clearly not interested in speaking to you is harassment and not okay. When I went back, he had moved a block or so down the street and didn’t call out to me. I didn’t go to talk to him, but maybe I should have.
Double whammy! I walked to the Y (Cincinnati) yesterday morning for my workout. On the way I passed the laundromat on Sherman and Allison, and a man stepped out the door and mouthed “wow!” as I walked by. On my way back, two men stood outside the same laundromat talking. One of them stared me down as I walked past while still talking to his buddy. Honestly, the staring was way creepier. I’m just trying to get to my workout!
New assholes acrossed the street! I was sitting on my friend’s porch enjoying the summer breeze to the sound of his new neigbor acrossed the street mowing his tiny lawn. His roommates were grilling meat on the porch when the lawn mowing guy hit a rock or part of the retaining wall or something. His “friend” looked down and said loudly, “Nice job, retard.” The words “that’s not funny” just sort of fell out of my mouth automatically. Later, I would wish I hadn’t, but in the moment, I was able to hold the volume back a little. I knew my friend would be embarrassed and scold me if I said it loud enough for the guy to hear. I told my friend I wished I had said it louder, and he relayed a story of the same guy calling him a “faggot” recently. They had been shouting down from their porch at him asking for a cigarette. My friend had politely told them that he didn’t have one, and they called him that. I said, “Wow, just some consistent douche-baggery constantly coming from that house, huh? He said, “Don’t worry I have plenty of names I’d like to call them,” but scolded me for using the word douche-bag in a derogatory manner. We discussed the relative costs and benefits of using the word douche-bag for some time, and I think the neighbors heard at least part of that conversation. He says I shouldn’t post that word here, because it’s derogatory toward vaginas, and isn’t that detrimental to the cause? But I’m just telling you the things that happened. It’s definitely not okay with me for anyone to use the f-word or the r-word in a derogatory way, ever. Jury’s still out for me on douche-bag, but perhaps I should just stick with the word asshole, because, like my friend says, everybody’s got one.
Every weekday, I walk to my office job, which I absolutely love. However, the past couple of weeks have made me dread the 15 minute morning walk to work. Last week, a middle-aged man wearing a Confederate flag hat honked at me and yelled “damn!” I had dressed in my fanciest dress pants and button up shirt, because I wanted to look nice for an important meeting I had that day. Even though the only thing you could see were my forearms(not that it matters), I felt dirty and inappropriate. I wanted to go home an change so I wouldn’t embarrass myself at work. Two days later, feeling a little better, another man honked at me and blew a kiss. He drove away so fast I couldn’t even respond. What a coward! I started tearing up, and was grumpy for the next hour. On my way to the grocery store later that day, I got honked and yelled at three more times by guys my age. THREE. TIMES. In less than an hour! All were in cars. All drove away before I could say anything. The next time it happens, I am either going to make a puking face, or if there is enough time say ” It’s cute that you think you’re in my league,” because if they don’t treat me like a person, why should I treat them like one?
My friend who is a cis-women has repeatedly been date raped by a student at Ohio University. She quickly stopped seeing him and simply writes him off as a “creep.” I occasionally see him around campus and I feel anger towards him every time. One day by Shively Hall I saw him with another girl and they were acting flirtatious with each other. I wanted to shout out to her, to warn her who he really is. I could not bring myself to do so. I feel like a coward. I hope she learned his true nature before he could hurt her.
I was 19 and my car broke down on my way to class, and my phone was dead. I walked around a bit until I found a sheriff’s deputy who was out ticketing. I flagged him down, and he made me sit next to him in his car and flirted with me before finally letting me use his phone to call my parents.
He said “You’ve gotta be more careful how you dress, when I saw you walking down the road, I thought it was Christmas.” I was going to CLASS, and although I was wearing a skirt, I was dressed modestly. He complimented me, told me I was cute, and even showed me pictures of his child (who was five and holding a gun in many of the pictures, wtf?!?!?)
I kept insisting that my dad was going to be there really soon, but the deputy insisted on staying there with me in his car, sat very close, and even sent out another deputy to check up on something so that he could sit with me. It was like a bad date, the way he was asking me questions about my personal life and complimenting my looks. I was sooo scared and disturbed, and when I told my parents, my mom said, “Well, if he was going to do something to you, he would have done it since you two were alone.”
I was seventeen, my sister was fourteen. We lived in a safe neighborhood on the north side of Lancaster, so we walked a lot of places because I could drive but didn’t yet have a car. One day, we were walking, and a car full of men in their mid-thirties pulled up beside us. They began yelling and whistling. Sadly, this didn’t immediately bother me because it had happened so often before. We ignored them, and they swerved into an empty lot beside us and began getting out of the car (there were at least five of them, and they were sturdy looking guys). They began walking towards us. I looked at my sister and told her to run, as there was a convenience store somewhat close. She wasn’t running very fast, and I was so scared they were going to catch up with us because they began running and we only had a small distance on them. We reached the store and I pulled her to the back corner where we crouched, trying to hide. The men ran in and were out of breath but were trying to play it cool like they were just browsing, but were obviously searching for us. One finally found us, gave us a long look like he was deciding what to do, and then the manager of the store walked over. The men left. The manager asked us if we were ok and we said yes and then called my dad to pick us up, but in hindsight I should have insisted that someone call the police.
I was in the third grade and I was sick. Everyone was gone and my mom had to work. So she left me with my aunt’s boyfriend who was in his late thirties. It was around noon when he offered me candy and I couldn’t say “no” to him he was twice my size. So I took the candy and he started to rub my back and I was very unconfertable then he asked if that felt good and I lied and said “yes.” Then he moved his hands to the frunt of me and I said that I was going to take a nap but I never.