Any woman is likely going to get pretty angry when they hear someone tell them that if they want to avoid being harassed they just need to not put themselves in bad positions.
There is SO much wrong with that.
First of all, victim-blaming is the opposite of helpful in any situation.
Second, there’s really nowhere you can be where harassment or worse can’t find you. Just listen to these stories from Redditors, and take note of the mind-blowing variety and banality of the settings.
Take a look at these stories…
1. “Good to know. Maybe next time.”
When I was 18, my friend and I were driving home around 3 am and we stopped by a gas station to get a snack. We hop out of the car and immediately this guy nearby call out to me, saying “brunette, white jacket!”. He asks my name, I give him a fake one, and my friend and I go into the store. We decided to wait in there until he drove away but 15 minutes later he was still there.
Eventually he comes into the store, looks around for us, and approaches me. The guy looked to be around 25-30. He smelled of cigarettes and I backed up closer to my friend but he took a step forward and proceeded to ask me for my number, saying I was cute, etc. I lied and told him I was a minor, to which he respected and backed off. He then says, “Good to know. Maybe next time” and leaves.
We watch their car drive away and only leave about five minutes after we were sure he was gone. We left the store and got into the car.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, I saw his car pulled over on the side of the road. We drove past it and I watched as the car turned on and started following us. I begged my friend to take the long way home (because I didn’t want to lead him to my house and because the long way passes by a fire station that I would’ve gone to for help, had they followed us that far).
Eventually we lose sight of the car, go home, and I never saw him or the car again.
2. Who, him?
The most memorable was when I was sitting in my parents’ front garden, on the swing, reading. The way everything is laid out with the trees and whatnot, you can barely see the swing/deck/BBQ area from any perspective that’s not from the front door. Very private spot.
Anyway, I was just sitting there reading when I hear someone walking up. Assume it’s a family member because how would it not be? Someone plops down on the swing next to me, throws an arm around me and it’s just … some f**king guy. Says some stuff, tries to move closer and proceeds to attempt to keep me from leaving when I get up.
I gtfo of there, practically sprint back to the house and tell my dad what just happened and that there’s some a**hole in our garden being completely gross at me. He just laughs and says, “Oh, that’s just [new across the street neighbor]. Be nice.”
Over the next couple years, sh**head would go on to make me and my older, only occasionally visiting, sisters super uncomfortable any chance he got. Long stories. And his poor, but large and angry, dog was always loose in the neighborhood and m**dering other people’s pets.
That motherf**ker still makes my blood boil.
3. “I bet you take real good care…”
I was walking my dog & made the mistake of not rushing home ok once it got dark.
A man in a baseball cap & oversized jacket blocked my path to comment how pretty my dog was & how I must take good care of him. I smiled (tightly) & thanked him. Told him to have a good day & nodded & went to go around him.
So he naturally grabbed my arm & said “Yeah I bet you take real good care of anything you have. You married?” I lied & said yes. He let me go but followed me home. I wound up calling my boyfriend to come pick me up.
4. Another reason contactless payment is great.
When I delivered pizzas and I was 18 this guy asked me if I wanted to step in while he grabbed his money. It was cold and rainy so I took him up on the offer. He ended up trying to keep me there til his mom got home because he didn’t have enough for the pizza. He tried to force me into a pyramid scheme and kept making uncomfortable comments about me.
I had left my phone in my car so I couldn’t text my manager to call me to give me an out because no matter how hard I tried to leave this guy would find some way to block my path. I took off when he went to the bathroom and told my manager about what happened. Females weren’t allowed to deliver to him anymore. We eventually found out he was a convicted s** offender too.
Normally I find an out and I always have an escape plan. But I put myself in a position where I couldn’t give myself an escape. I went on to manage/deliver pizzas for several years, but after that day I implemented a new rule which was, NEVER enter anyone’s home unless I knew who it was. I’d stand in the pouring rain any day over entering a strangers home. I come from a “safe” low crime area, but my gut instinct that night was that I was in danger.
5. Roofies are no laughing matter.
I was a moron and took a drink after walking in a club from a guy. Hadn’t had one other drink. Drank it, tasted like jager, 20 minutes later started freaking out to my friend apparently saying there was someone watching us.
We hurriedly went to my car which was manual, so she couldn’t drive it. I shifted and she steered. For some reason we never called the cops. We apparently were running stoplights and took interstate, and this guy was following us.
We got back to her neighborhood and ran inside as he walked around outside. I fell asleep talking, pee on myself, and couldn’t be woken up. She v**lently shook me, trying to wake me but I didn’t budge. She finally got me awake about 6 hours later to my alarm going off for work. I woke up (6 am), got dressed, went to my car and wrecked it by running into a bridge.
I don’t remember anything after ~20 minutes of taking the drink. I still wonder to this day why we just didn’t call the cops (maybe because I was underage?)
15 year old me went shopping and felt a weird touch when I was browsing books. Didn’t think anything of it, then again another touch. Turned around to see a grown a** man trying to touch me up in public in the middle of the day in a book shop.i was so scared, I just stood there staring at him.
Me, now, would have done it differently.
7. A “special aura.”
I talked to him for 2 minutes at a welcome / ice breaker game when university first started. A few months later, i decided to not go to university anymore and to move in with my parents (I had not seen him since the game), he contacted not me but the Priest of our village!
He told him I had a “special aura” and he needed me around. He drove 2 hours to say that to my priest. Thank god the priest did not like that and called me and offered to call the cops.
It still haunts me how much he must have found of me online/ researched to know where I live and that I was religious. I definitely did not tell him that. Really weird.
8. One week later.
When I was 16 I would walk to college once a week to keep fit, as it was an hour away. One day I had only just set off and I was accosted by a guy on a bike that wouldn’t leave me alone. I was really shy and anxious so I tried to be friendly, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He finally said he’d go away if I gave him my number and I didn’t feel like I could say no so I gave it to him to get him to bugger off and just thought I’d ignore his calls.
Fast forward to later in the day and I had to shut my phone off cause he was calling and texting so much. He was sending texts saying that he loved me. When I turned the phone back on I had 100 missed calls and nearly as many texts.
It only stopped after about a week of this. It seriously made me nervous for a long time because he’d originally accosted me so close to my house, and I was scared that he’d see me again and follow me, but I never saw him again
9. The tower of terror.
I was 19, worked at a main library in my city, with several floors and an elevator. I was taking a book truck, the library guard got on, as soon as the door closed he cornered me and kissed me. He was at least 40 and much bigger than me.
I never got on an elevator alone with him again, nor with anyone else that I didn’t know.
10. “I said thank you.”
I was 8 years old and waiting for the bus in the morning to go to my mom’s work. A guy sat next to me at the bus stop and his bus pass was the wrong color (expired).
He told me he loved me and as scary as it is, I said thank you. When the bus finally came, I got on first and the bus driver lady immediately shut the door behind me. She said the man knelt down to try and look up my shorts and that he wouldn’t be taking the bus with us.
I told my mom and after work we went and bought me my first pepper spray. As a f**king 8 year old.
11. Just stay away.
Used to work with this old man that would touch me all the time on my arm or my back. It’s hard for me to make a scene although I wish that I had been direct with him. My solution was to shuffle away from him anytime he got close to me. It did seem to fix it but he was kind of a d**k afterwards.
Also same job, I was kissed on the neck by another coworker very suddenly. This guy was not from the US so I chalked it up to cultural differences, but I did not view him the same way afterwards.
12. The fist bump.
There was a creepy hunched old man who used to come into a pub I worked at. He used to say and do slightly weird things and then one day he called one of the glass collectors fat (she was 16 at the time) and to apologise he went to fist bump her, then grabbed her hand and put her fingers in his mouth.
13. Imagine being chased for 15 years.
A guy at my university followed me around for about 15 years.
I have a unique surname.
There used to be a way for students to use pine to find out who else was logged in and where on campus. He would use that command and show up in the computer lab and sit next to me.
He looked me up in the phone book and showed up at my parents’ house.
After a restraining order, you would think it was done right?
I was speaking at an international conference in another country. Guess who was sitting in the front row! This was a conference for a very niche scientific field that he was definitely not part of.
A few years later, I was at an alumni event with my husband. My husband left the table to go to the washroom. Guess who sat down the second he left!
Police were called.
It’s been a few years since the last incident.
14. Work on your marketing technique.
While standing outside a bar, having a cigarette, a friend of a friend kept bugging me to go home with him.
He had tried this on multiple occasions but it wasn’t going to happen. Ever. I told him as much and his response was “Cmon. If you f**k me tonight, I promise I won’t even be racist and I’ll make you toast after”.
For context, we are both white. I guess he assume I valued anti-racist attitudes and toast? Which is true, but, weird sell, dude.
15. Watching, waiting.
There was a guy in my hometown that would wait outside the high-school, with the door to his corvette open, hoping a girl would get in. I lived in the middle of nowhere. To get to my house I had to walk over a mile, on a one lane dirt road, winding through a forest.
One day as the school bus was approaching my laneway to drop me off, the corvette guy was waiting in my laneway, with his door open. The bus driver wouldn’t let me off the bus; he continued to the next drop and told me to go to that house and call my parents to pick me up. (This was in the days before cell phones existed)
16. On a public bus.
I was 12 years old, on a public bus, and wearing my sailor-esque Catholic schoolgirl uniform.
As I was standing near the back door waiting to get off at my stop, a small, greasy looking adult man sidled up too close to me. He had a smarmy little smile on his face. I was so confused as to why he was standing that close, that for a few seconds I didn’t notice his hand cupping my butt.
Fortunately we were pulling up to my stop so once I got over the shock of my situation, I hollered “don’t touch me!” and jumped off the bus.
Since that day I’ve always been very aware of my personal space, and have no problem telling people to back off if they are making me feel uncomfortable. Creepy people who prey on little kids are the worst.
17. At a bus stop.
This happened when I was a freshman in college. I was at the bus stop, with a bag of groceries in each hand, just minding my own business, waiting for the bus to go home. Then, an older man, must’ve been in his late forties or early fifties, starts approaching me and saying really crude things. I should point out that I am barely over five feet tall, this man towered over me and was at least twice my weight.
I ignore him, don’t say a word, I don’t even look in his direction. His comments start getting more s**ually explicit the closer he gets. I realize that the longer I stay quiet, the closer he’s gonna get, and when he was about an arm lengths away, I decided to speak up.
Now, what I wanted to do was explain that he was making me uncomfortable and I would appreciate some space, but I must’ve been all out of patience because what actually came out was “Can you back the f*** up away from me?”
Oh. My. God. This grown-a** man acted so OUTRAGED that I dared speak to him like that. He starts screaming about how I should respect my elders, how I have no manners, and he actually throws a bottle at me. He missed. He goes on for maybe another five minutes berating me loudly until the bus arrives.
Never went to that grocery store again after that encounter.
18. In a mall.
My friend and I were 16 and wandering around at a Sephora in the mall, just swatching eyeshadow and highlighter on our wrists. He was the only guy in the store, and I only vaguely noticed him in the same aisle as us just before we paid. It didn’t ring any alarm bells for me whatsoever, because why should it?
We picked up our highlighter and went to pay, the girl at the register rung up our items, leaned over and said quietly “That guy followed you two into the store and has been watching you in each aisle. I’m going to give you your bags, and go ask him if he needs any help, you two need to get as far away as possible. If you see him follow you Outside of this store, go talk to security.” She handed us our bags, gestured at the door, and walked up to him as we ran out.
I hope she gets all the good things in this life.
19. Working at a bar.
I unfortunately have a few stories but this is one that tops the list. I’m a bartender and one night I was serving three men who work at an Italian restaurant nearby. I was offered a job, which I politely declined. They were my last patrons. I closed out their tab, finished my side work and had a bus boy walk me to my car.
As the bus boy left in his own car, this black Porsche SUV blocks me in my spot. The window is rolled down and I realize it’s the owner of the Italian restaurant. He asks if I want to go home with him. I decline. He asks if the bus boy was my boyfriend and I lied and said yes. He scoffed and sped off. I hurry and leave to head home. As I pull into my parking spot at my house, I see the same SUV drive by! I woke up my neighbor who was a military guy, and he said he’d keep an eye out.
That night I found the guys name online, his Facebook profile, his business profile, his wife’s profile and his phone number. I took screenshots and sent them all to him telling him not to harass me or I’ll retaliate. I never heard from him again.
Lesson learned: always pay attention to your surroundings while driving home.
20. At Chipotle.
In fifth grade, after ballet practice, I was only wearing shorts and a jacket over my dance clothes (leotard and tights), and standing in a chipotle line. Some old dude was behind me and asking me about my phone. According to my mother, he was looking at my body, scanning it up and down. Even before I found that out he gave me the creeps.
When we left, he rushed to pick up his order and ran out the door after us and followed us home. He stopped following at the last turn.
I had trouble sleeping.
21. In a cab.
I was 21 in a strange city and got separated from my friend at a bar. I was d**nk and wanted to go back to the hotel so as I’m leaving, this guy who had been sitting near me all night followed and got IN MY CAB with me and closed the door.
Again, I was very d**nk so had to think quickly and stay as calm as possible. He tried to talk to me and I just nodded and made small talk (I didn’t know if rejection would turn him v**lent so I played along the best I could) after telling the driver where to take me.
The whole time this guy is moving closer and touching me, so as soon as the car stopped I got out, RAN into the hotel lobby where I knew this man would be following me, and screamed to the hotel security and desk employees, “I DO NOT KNOW THIS MAN. HE IS FOLLOWING ME”, and they took it from there..
22. Waiting for a college bus.
I was waiting near a bus stop after college (I was 17 or 18 at the time) and some guy came up to me and started talking to me as if he knew me. He kept saying sorry, and he was clearly not all there/on something. I kept moving away and he just followed. He pinned me against the wall I was leaning on and wouldn’t leave me alone.
I finally got away and sat in the bus stop and he came and sat next to me. As I stood up to get on the bus – I’ve never been so happy to see a bus in my life – he grabbed my a**.
The worst thing about all this is that there were about 5 or 6 people at the bus stop. Adults, men and women, all saw this happening and didn’t do anything to help me
23. At a Walmart.
When I was 16 I went to Walmart with some of my siblings. I broke off to go look in the shoe section for some sandals and as I turned a corner I almost ran into this guy. Very nondescript, wearing the jumper most guys who worked at the plants near there wore.
For some reason I immediately got a really bad feeling, panicked, and turned around and went to the nearest other section. Took a few minutes to calm down enough to realize that it was the baby section and that I was staring at an infant bouncer for which I had no use. I laughed at myself, put it down to how anxious and socially awkward I was, and then turned around to go back to the shoe section.
I then realized that guy was now in the baby section and that bad feeling came back. What were the odds he actually needed something there? I fled to the women’s clothing section, thinking that there was no reason he would appear there. I was shaking, pretending to look at things and telling myself that I was being ridiculous, when he came up behind me and grabbed my behind so hard his fingers got places I wish they hadn’t and whispered something in my ear. He immediately walked away, before I could do anything.
I listen to those bad feelings now. Frankly I consider myself extremely lucky. I also really wish I could remember what he said, but everything was kind of roaring and went blurry I was so panicked.
24. In public with your mom.
When I was thirteen a fifty-something-year-old man said in front of my mother that if I ever misbehaved he would give me a spanking, kinda out of the blue. Then when her attention was averted he kinda snuck a hug for a few seconds too long.
Nothing super crazy but, hella awkward.
25. At a concert.
I’ve met many creeps, but the one that immediately came to mind is the dude that put his hand down the front of my pants at a concert.
He tried to play it off like it was an accident. Things get pretty crowded in the pit, so it’s not like there’s any personal space- but HAND DOWN MY PANTS- there’s no way that’s an accident. He was with who I presume was his girlfriend and when I turned around to be like “wtf” she glared at me like I was trying to hit on him.
26. On the subway.
14 years old and alone on the subway. Man sits in a seat across from me, spreads his legs and starts m**turbating through his pants while staring me straight in the eyes.
I was getting ready to jump up and run out at the next stop. An older gentleman suddenly appeared, stood directly in front of me like a shield and stared the guy down.
At the next stop he pointed to the door and made him get off. I hope I said thank you but I was in shock.
So thank you dear man who protected me and made me feel safe.
27. In a snowstorm.
So, last year I got a flat tire on a semi-busy road right when a snowstorm started. Since I had AAA, I figured I would use one of my roadside assistants to have them replace the tire with a spare that I had, and I wouldn’t have to go outside since I forgot gloves.
While I was waiting, a mid-forties early fifties man came up to my window and asked if I needed help. Thinking that he was just a good Samaritan at the time, I thanked him but told him, no, I was just waiting for AAA. Now, if he left here, I would have a nice story about a guy willing to help me with a car problem.
Instead, he gets downright pushy. He lives nearby. I can just take my car there and change it in his garage. Why don’t I just stay in his house until AAA comes? I kept telling him no until he starts yelling, and I rolled up the window and he starts pounding on it. Eventually he left when the AAA guy came, but I still took a very long and circuitous route home.
28. Walking in your neighborhood.
A few years ago I lived in a tiny condo right next to a few trails in San Diego. I was on a pretty strict running & hiking routine.
One night it got dark faster than expected. A man who appeared to be about 6’3”, & 200 pounds approached me as I was nearing the end of my hike. He told me; with a smirk on his face, to be careful as there are many things that could hurt me when the sun goes down.
The next day as I’m exiting my back gate he’s standing there as if he’s waiting for me. He introduced himself and admitted he’s been watching me for awhile. I decided to pretend like I was grabbing something from my car and went back into my house.
For the next few days I see this guy circling my condo, looking in if the curtains are open. He was always walking around day and night.
I checked the Megan’s law website and surprise, there he was. […]
I decided to contact his parole officer end he immediately returned my call stated he could tell I fit his m.o. and to use extreme caution.
He said he would do what he could to get him out of the neighborhood. After that call I thankfully never saw him again.
29. At a train station.
I was walking to the train station at 9 pm in a very isolated area (no one was around).
Two men were following me as I’m sure they knew I was going to the train station and in order to get there, I had to go through a dark alley. They were two huge men and I was shorter and also a minor (which was obvious cause I had a backpack).
They started trying to corner me and then they asked questions about where I live and if I live in the area and then a big family came and the men left.
30. Literally just at home.
Lived in a super cheap, super s**tty “apartment” when I was in college. It was a decent city but the apartment was located in the only bad neighborhood. I was willing to deal with it for $300 per month rent.
Because of the price, people constantly moved in and then bailed after a month or two. One of these people was an older (50s – 60s) veteran. He seemed polite at first, but after he had been there a few days I’d catch him weirdly leaning to watch me from behind a wall when I’d be outside. When my boyfriend wasn’t around, he’d wait for me to be outside and then run up to start a conversation. The conversations were usually harmless at first, then would get creepy like asking what my favorite s** position is and other inappropriate questions.
About 2 months in, I was leaving my house at like 10pm and I saw him stumbling around the parking lot covered in blood. I quickly left, and never saw him again.
However, a few days later my landlord knocked on my door and was pale in the face. He asked me if I had seen anything unusual with the guy. I explained that I had, and asked why. He said that if I ever see him on the property again, I need to call the cops first and then call him. It took some prying to find out why, and he told me that he just went in to clean out his apartment and all that the guy had in his house was a dirty mattress, a broken toaster, and a full on “s** dungeon”. I don’t know what all that entailed, but he mentioned the place was full of bondage and restraint type things.
It still makes my skin crawl to think about it.
If you’re ever tempted to shrug off a woman’s story of harassment or assault as “being in the wrong place a the wrong time,” cut that thought immediately and remember this list.
Because it is the tip of the iceberg.
Do you have a story like this?
Share it with us in the comments.