Created by Marija, Ruth Thangiah, and Andrea Montes Reyes for a Community Service Learning student project at the University of Alberta.
The timeline linked below chronicles one person’s experience with street harassment over many years and how it has affected them. In addition to a personal narrative, statistics are includes from street harassment studies completed around the world. Street harassment is a global issue, a frequent issue, and has a compounding effect on people in our communities.
Story artwork by: Andrea Montes Reyes
Dear Hollaback! Community,
I am reaching out today with the heaviest of hearts. The tragedy in Orlando was one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States. It took place on Latinx night at the Pulse, and those we lost were mostly LGBTQ, mostly people of color.
We want to be clear: this was not just an act of terror, it was also a hate crime. It was, at its root, a product of homophobic, racist, and transphobic culture that we live in.
It’s a culture of hate that we perpetuate everyday when we support laws against gender-inclusive bathrooms, normalize street harassment, and allow gay teens to be bullied in plain sight. When we refuse to stand up against the daily violence that LGBTQ people face just for being who they are, we create a culture where events like Orlando become inevitable.
The horrific events in Orlando bring to the forefront our own experiences of harassment and violence as LGBTQ folks. It can feel like a scab ripping off; it is a wound that never really has a chance to heal.
This week, as we heal, reflect, and care for one another — let’s also take this opportunity to turn our pain into power. Join us in sharing your experiences with hate, harassment, or violence towards the LGBTQ community with the hashtag #thehatewefaceiseveryday.
Your story could be something that small — like a hateful joke, or a passing comment. Or it could be something much harder — like harassment, intimidation, stalking, or assault. Whatever it is, we’re listening. If you would prefer to be anonymous, you can share your story on our site, or through our free app.
As we process this tragedy, our pain runs deep. As we do the critical work of standing up against Islamophobia and fighting for better policies — we too need to do the work of caring for ourselves, and giving our pain space to breathe.
Sharing your story is an act of self-care, and in times like these, it is an act of survival. We need to show people what’s wrong so they can see what’s possible.
with love and warmth,
Co-Founder and Executive Director
I was walking near MacEwan as I usually do around lunch time, and a man approached me and said “excuse me?” I turned and said “yes?” (Thinking he was going to ask for direction or something else). He leered at me and asked if I was wearing any panties. Shocked I reply “no I’m not talking to you.” He walked around me and shortly stopped and asked “so your not wearing panties?” I replied “no I’m not talking to you.” The man turned and walked away however continued to turn and leer at me. I hurried away as I was very aware that I was wearing a skirt and there was no one around. I had to go back that way he went however as I work in that direction. I guess I won’t walk at lunch anymore…
Afterwards I debated reporting it, as I was unsure if this was considered a crime or if the police could do anything. I decided after work that I would call the non emergency line, because what if the man did this to another person and was more aggressive. The call taker said “it’s too bad you didn’t report it right away as now he could be anywhere.” Which led to more question on what this would be considered as crime wise, is it harassment or sexual assault or sexual harassment? All the definitions don’t really fit… I still don’t understand.
We stand in solidarity with Lucy DeCoutere, Linda Redgrave, and others who have bravely shared their stories. We stand with Kathryn Borel, Reva Seth, Zoe Kazan, and anyone else who has reported harassment or assault.
This trial offered highly visible examples of injustice, but we recognize that there are many stories going unheard. Stereotypes and snap judgements privilege more powerful voices over others. Many do not feel safe or supported accessing institutions that claim to offer justice, particularly when facing discrimination based on race, ethnicity, poverty, ableism, and/or gender identity and expression. Many have reason to distrust and fear the police, the law, and the courts. These stories are no less true than the few that recently made headlines.
We understand that narratives are influenced by trauma, time, and memory. Too often, people are asked to push their own needs aside and ignore abusive behaviour for the sake of harmony. Insisting on automatic, linear storytelling ignores the realities of lived experience, and further prioritizes the stories of people who have access to traditional power structures and institutions. We believe in your process, whatever that might look like for you.
We know you’re out there. You believe. You remember. You find kindred spirits. You build networks. You share stories and skills. You open doors. You encourage resistance, resilience and persistence. You’re building a better world, one person at a time.
Not everyone is a survivor. We acknowledge the lives that have been lost because of this violence.
You don’t have to share your story with us, and you don’t have to give us your reasons, but we’ll hold space for you to breathe. We see you. We hear you. We’re so glad you’re still here.
With love and revolution,
About a week ago a man who I have seen around my neighbourhood struck up a conversation with me at the bus stop. He started by saying hello and made small talk about the weather and the infrequency of the busses. I engaged in the small talk thinking he was just being friendly. He then followed me to the back of the bus and sat right next to me. This made me uncomfortable especially because he kept shyly glancing at me throughout the bus ride but not saying anything. So I asked him if he is on his way to work and he told me he works at a Turkish restaurant (Turquaz Kebab House) and I should visit him there sometime telling me the location. He asked me if I was on my way to work and I nodded but didn’t tell him where. The next day he was also at the bus stop and came over to say hi. When I got on the bus he followed but I found my friend on that bus and sat next to her. He stared at me the whole time then followed me off the bus. I ignored him and walked with my friend to get a coffee.
The following day I walked to my bus stop using a different route and he happen to be waiting for me at the lights. He started to walk in my direction as soon as he saw me. At this point I thought this was a coincidence since he commutes to work and must have a similar schedule. I got on the bus and sat next to my friend who happened to be on the bus again. He got off the same stop as me and hovered around me. I waved bye to him and carried on my way. The following day I had an appointment and took the train to work instead so I did not run into this man.
Yesterday, I walked my usual route although 10 minutes late and as soon as I walked by Wild Earth Cafe I hear the door quickly open and the man walk out. He greets me commenting that we have the same timing. This tipped off my spidey senses. I replied coldly saying it is odd and that he must have missed his bus standing in the cafe. He made some excuse saying they took forever making his coffee and yet he did not have a coffee in his hand. We then waited at the bus stop where he stood close to me and had nothing to say. I stepped away from him. He then asked me if I like swimming and have I been to WEM wave pool. I nodded then looked in the direction of the bus. He then asked me if I like to go there and I said I prefer the ocean. He then just stared at me not saying anything.
He said he works in the west end but whenever the 7 bus arrives he will get on whichever bus I get on such as the 57 or the 81, which stops at a different destination. Even when he is on the 7 bus he will get off at my stop. This particular day I was super creeped out realizing he waits for me in Wild Earth Cafe. So I waited for him to get on the bus first so I could find a seat away from him. I also hopped off the first bus stop downtown as the doors were about to close so he wouldn’t follow me. I then saw him get off the bus a couple of stops ahead. I changed my route to work cutting through buildings to avoid him. I was telling a coworker about him when she realized I was talking about the same guy who used to harass and follow her at the same bus stop. He hugged her and tried to kiss her and was angry when he found out she has a boyfriend. He tried to buy her coffee and followed her to work from the bus stop. If she ignored him he would get upset. She has completely changed her routine to avoid him.
Today my fiancé walked me to the bus stop. We stopped in Wild Earth Cafe to see if he was in there waiting. We ordered food and left for the bus stop with no sightings of him. As we sat on the bus bench for about five minutes he appeared from around the corner of Wild Earth Cafe and crossed 99 street to the bus stop. He waited behind us from a distance leaning against the wall of Todd’s Cleaners. When my fiancé glared in his direction to get a good look at him the man ducked around the corner of that building watching us. He was quite far from the bus stop and even walked down the street turning back to continue standing behind us. He looked blank. When the bus arrived I waited until he got on and I then stood at the front of the bus by the driver. He sat at the nearest seat to me and stared at me without any expression on his face. When I got off the bus I ran to the nearest public building and hid. I then ran to work.
I am not sure how much longer this will continue. It sucks because I live right by the bus stop and am on edge. Hopefully now that he saw me with my partner he will quit bothering me and I will soon be off his radar.
He appears to be in his early to mid 30’s about 5’10 and wears a black wool coat. He has hair cropped along the sides with more volume on top. He at first seems like a nice person wanting to chat. It took a few days to realize how creepy he is.
I’m a university of Alberta PhD student, from India, third year in Edmonton. I was walking home after dinner with my girlfriend and another friend from China on Whyte ave at about 11:00. A bunch of random guys (6-7 people) walking in same direction as we were started with the name calling and one guy dropping his pants in front of us. It escalated to one of them trying to fight with my friend (he walked around him and avoided it) and then to throwing cigarette butts and talks about spitting. This was the point when I told them to leave us alone ( “buddy, do you really want to do this? Leave us alone” was the words I used). Not really sure what sort of expression on my face, but they tried to justify that their friend was drunk and ultimately they left us alone. Followed by that delightful experience, there another incident of throwing cigarette butts at my girlfriend in front of O’Briens Pub by a different guy. We ignored this guy completely. Ultimately we did reach home safely. However, I cant help but feel disappointed at the situation. I do expect this situation in India and avoid shady neighborhoods at night; however, a popular street in Canada at 11:00 is an entirely different story.
In case anyone is in a similar situation, the recommended thing to do from the websites I read is:
1. Assertively respond to the harassers calmly, firmly, and without insults or personal attacks to let them know that their actions are unwelcome, unacceptable, and wrong.
2. Report to Police or Transit Workers: Take actions that will create real consequences for the harasser, such as reporting the person to a police officer or other person of authority, like a bus driver or subway employee.
So this isn’t street harassment per say but on Monday, November 2nd 2015 I was sexually assaulted by a man in his late 30s in the back of his car. Things started consensually but he started to get rough and tried to choke me and I tried to stop him because that was not okay. He then physically assaulted and sexually assaulted me without a condom. I was working as a sex worker up until that night convinced me to stop but its still not okay. To any girls reading this, this man has brown hair and brown eyes with a spider web tattoo on his left shoulder and another tattoo on his left thigh that says Fuck You made very crudely. He is between 6’2 and 6’5. Heavier set and was driving a black car with a scratch on the passenger side. He was wearing jeans and sneakers and a grey beer shirt that said Coors on it. If you see this man please please please run away from him. He is a violent predator. If he approaches you call the police.no comments
Near a bus stop waiting for the number 5 a woman with intellectual disabilities was yelled at and threatened by a male about 40 years of age. They both got on the bus and the transit operator said nothing as the harassment continued on the train.