Monday, July 11, 2016

I exist.

CN: Harassment, assault.
Very long post.

I'm so tired of seeing people say things such as "but what was she doing that caused the man to harass her" or "she probably provoked or lead him on in some way" as if provocation is an acceptable reason for harassment and/or violence against another human. As if there's reason to blame the victim. As if there's any way to justify a person harming or threatening to harm a human being that isn't doing anything to harm another.

Example: I was at a club with my boyfriend and a friend. I left them at a table to go to the restroom which happened to be upstairs and on the other side of the club. I was at the elevator waiting for it to come down when a guy at a table near the elevator got my attention and motioned for me to come over to him. I stayed where I was and he tried to call me over again. I was a little drunk and for some reason thought he must have thought I was a waitress. I informed him I didn't work there and willed the elevator to hurry the hell up. He got angry. "Bitch I know you don't work here. Get the fuck over here." I declined and told him to leave me alone. He stood up and said, "bitch bring your ass over here" and started moving towards me. The elevator finally came down but I nearly ran in my heels back to our table so I could get my boyfriend so I could hopefully go back and get safely to the restroom. As I walked back up to the elevator this man stood up again and started to address me again before he noticed Shane standing there. He sat back down and left me alone. Later, this man followed us out to the patio and didn't address me. He apologized to Shane because this guy didn't realize I was there with a man already and said he wouldn't have said anything to me had he known. Shane told him I was the one that deserved the apology. The guy mumbled at me before going back inside.

Another instance. I was at a BBQ. A guy I had only met when I had arrived with a friend to this BBQ came to sit next to me on the bench I was sitting on. My friend was on the other side of the yard playing volleyball and I was just relaxing and people watching. We talked for a little while mostly about sports and music. He said something funny and I started laughing. Then his hand was in my hair and he was sitting much closer to me. I told him to stop touching my hair. He did but then put his hand on my knee. I told him not to put his hands on me at all. He asked me if I wanted to go to his car and "have some fun." I told him I didn't and told him he had the wrong idea. I told him I was not interested. He put his hand on my thigh and asked if I was sure and told me we've been having a good time so far. I removed his hand for him and told him not to lay a hand on me again. I got up to go join my friend and he grabbed my arm to stop me. He asked if I was seriously leaving him there after he had just spent a whole twenty minutes talking to me. I again told him I wasn't interested and didn't want to continue spending time with him and told him to let go of me. "If you see me naked, you'll change your mind" was his response to that. He tightened his grip on my arm and I remember leaning down quickly, pressing my other arm into his throat and telling him to let go of my arm. He immediately let go and called me a crazy whore before shoving me away from him and moving away.

Another instance. I was walking through an outdoor shopping center when two men tried to call me over to them. I ignored them. They continued catcalling and yelling at me. I told them politely that I'm not interested. They started following me. They don't stop when I tell them I'm really not interested and request they leave me alone. They still follow me and started insulting me, angry that I wouldn't give them time and attention. I ducked into a large retail store, scared and looking for security. The two men didn't follow me into the store but they loiter around outside on the sidewalk while I figure out what to do. I call the police. No one ever came. I didn't go to another store and started shaking once I got back into my car and locked the door.

Last example. I was in a bar with a group of friends. I was dancing with one of my friends while our other friends played darts and pool. A guy that was friends with one of my friends older brother came up behind me and started dancing. I had met this guy before at a house party but didn't really know him. Dude started grinding up against me immediately. I put space between us and told him I didn't want him touching me. He responded with, "well you're in a club dancing so you're basically inviting people to be on you." He tried to close the space between us and I again moved away telling him to stop and telling him to leave me alone. He said something about me playing hard to get and was back on me. I shoved him away from me. He grabbed me by the hair and spat in my face. I grabbed his wrist and twisted his arm around hard to get my hair released from his grasp. He cursed at me and started screaming. A bouncer came over to seperate us and then my friends and I are kicked out of the club 2 minutes later. Creepy guy happened to be friends with the man that managed that club. We left and dude followed us outside to call us names and taunt us for a moment before his manager buddy came out to collect him. I was 18 when this happened and it was the first time I'd experienced something like that. Unfortunately it wasn't also the last.

I have dozens upon dozens of stories of men yelling at me, men catcalling me, men threatening me, men getting angry because I wouldn't give them the time and attention they felt entitled to, men harassing me, men stalking me, men reacting violently and men ignoring and disrespecting me and the boundaries I set.

And there are people that still want to ask, "well what did you do to provoke them?"

Exist. I exist and that's enough. People have it in their heads that men NEED some kind of provocation, some kind of reason for doing things like this. Maybe because it's easier than accepting that it can happen to anyone and without provocation, just because. Because someone felt entitled to time and attention from another person. Because someone felt they'd earned something they were being denied. Because someone simply wanted to.

There is no excuse for harassment and violence. Stop making excuses and placing blame on anyone and/or anything that isn't the person comitting these acts as they're the person that should be held accountable for their actions and choices.