"When I was walking to school when I was 7 years old, a boy in grade 10 came up to me and whispered in my ear, 'I am going to violate you.' I was terrified. I was too embarrassed to say the truth and told my dad that someone had merely threatened to beat me up.
When my dad asked why I was crying, he reassured me it wouldn't happen. If I mentioned the word that boy actually used, my dad would have likely beaten the crap out of the guy. Nothing happened, thankfully."
"Some high school boys blocked my path when I was riding my bike as an 11-year-old. They told me to stop so they could talk to me. They started making comments about my chest, and it made me uncomfortable because I was self-conscious about going through puberty.
They were catcalling me and asking me how old I was, and they thought I was a liar when I told them the truth. I just wanted to leave because they outnumbered me and the attention made me embarrassed. One of them tried to grab me, and I got on my bike and rode away as fast as I could while they laughed and jeered. I just wanted to go home to play Barbies with my friends, and these guys scared me."
"I was 16 years old and had a 30-year-old male coworker, who was a divorced father of two. He cornered me in the kitchen and started talking to me about what he'd like to do to me with whips and chains and other overtly explicit things. I slapped him across the face, which encouraged his 'I like it rough' talk. I eventually was able to scurry away and tell the manager."
"When I was 16 years old, an old man asked me for directions, and I answered politely. He was on vacation in the city I live in, and I thought he was genuinely asking for information.
But no, stuff got explicit and uncomfortable quickly. He asked if I wanted to meet him at his hotel because his wife is not there with him. He said he saw me the last time he was in the city and that he couldn't stop thinking about me at night since then. I was so shocked I barely said anything, and he took it as a lead, grabbed my hips and started moaning in my ear. I pushed him, swore at him, and went home. I think he followed me until my block."
"I remember when I was 12 years old, an older boy was talking to me on MSN, and he asked me to take off my top on camera, and I said no. He asked if I was self-conscious. I wasn't, but I knew that saying 'I don't feel like showing you my chest' would only make him argue about it so I just said yes. He asked me if we could get naked together and I said, 'I don't do that, I'm 12' so then he started touching himself. I just tried ignoring him because I wanted to be friends, so I just waited until he was done. I had no idea what to do or how wrong it was until much, much later.
I also remember when I was 12 or 13 and my girlfriend's older brother and his friend were talking about my chest in the other room. I guess they didn't know we could hear them.
I also remember once when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old, my sister and I were out walking and some old guy wanted to kiss us. He was wasted and smelled gross, and it made me so uncomfortable. I said no, but he was grabbing my arm and wouldn't let go until I let him. When we came back to our parents, I started crying because I was so creeped out and my parents pretty much dismissed me by saying 'he was just wasted'. So being wasted means it's ok for a 60-year-old guy to kiss young teenagers.
That really explains my level of tolerance and patience for this bull. Dismissal builds up and it becomes tolerance and, 'just something boys/guys/men do.'"
"I have three sisters, and I always hoped that I would be the one-in-four statistic so my little sisters wouldn't have to deal with that crap. Turns out we compared notes recently (we are all in our 30s) and we all have been assaulted.
I was a blonde kid in the '80s and tons of much older men blew kisses at me in ways that were creepy. My mom told me to smile at them, but it always felt gross.
When I was 5 years old, an uncle made me perform an explicit act on him. I brought it up to my dad as a teenager and he told me 'that's just what boys do' and said he didn't want to hear about it anymore.
When I was in the fifth grade, the kid next to me groped me and always tried to hit my crotch with pencils and rulers. It took a lot of convincing to get my teacher to move us apart, and I was stuck sitting next to him for several months. My life was miserable and I wished I could die.
Other sketchy things happen regularly, but it's just ridiculous the things we have accepted as 'normal.' I was clearly a child and hadn't developed but just because someone might look mature doesn't mean they are asking for these comments or actions."
"I was 11 years old when I started getting hollered at by men on the street.
The scariest was when I had just turned 13 years old. I was going to a friend's birthday party at the pool in her apartment complex, but I couldn't swim so I was sitting on the sideline. When the party was winding down, I was waiting for my mom to come pick me up while I sat by the pool.
A man approached me and started talking, saying how 'cute' I was. It was creepy. I asked if he was someone's dad, and he said yes. When I got up to check the street out front to see if my mom had come, the guy grabbed me and hoisted me over his shoulder. I froze in shock at first but then I started screaming to let me down. Nobody came to help me, I guess they thought he was a dad wrangling his kid. When he passed by the fence of the pool, I managed to grab hold and loop my arms around it and kept screaming. Eventually, he let go and ran off.
I was so shaken up I couldn't talk about it that night. My mom thought I had a fight with my friends. When I eventually told her, her response was to make me get me a pixie haircut, claiming it was 'because it was such a hot summer.' She also decided to buy all of my clothes in the men's sports section, so I ended up looking like a boy on a basketball team. Looking back, I guess she was trying to do whatever she could to protect me."
"When I was 8 years old, I remember one of my brother's friends asking me to sit on his hands to keep them warm. My brother had gotten up to have a shower after playing video games. I was really confused and curious why I would have to sit on his hands, but he said to keep them warm because I was so hot. This back and forth went on for a while, I never sat down, then my brother came back from the shower, and we talked about something else. Then they went out rollerblading, and I played with my dolls.
It wasn't until I was in my mid-teens that I could finally place the reason why I felt so awkward in those few minutes. Also, I have memories of one of my parent's friends saying to his son (in front of me), 'You kids going to get married one day? She's very pretty, isn't she?' I was blushing at the time and giggled, but in retrospect, that's creepy and don't make jokes like that about your kids."
"When I was like 11 years old, I hit puberty hard. One of the other 11-year-olds told me in class that we should date because I have a big chest and he has a big man part. All the kids laughed, including me. I felt self-conscious about developing and it felt like a socially acceptable way to self-deprecate.
It got weirder that same year when my dad's old high school friend, recently out of eight years in prison and reconnecting with his old buds, told me I was pretty and gave me white lingerie for my 12th birthday. He played it off by saying they were 'pajamas' - my dad said he probably just 'didn't realize it' but my mom was livid. She told my dad he wasn't allowed around anymore. I think my dad was probably just in denial because he would have felt responsible otherwise. My dad has always been great at pretending there's no problem."
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"I was around 8 years old and on a beach with my friend. We were playing horses and having a lot of fun.
This old fat dude who sat in front of us asked if we wanted any ice cream. He was weird and instantly creeped us out, but since I was shy and was taught adults must be respected, we didn't immediately leave. He told me I was beautiful and that he had a secret for us. That secret was that he had an 'exciting' ice cream in his pants and he would like us to taste it. We ran away. This was not the only time something clearly dangerous like this happened, though. Once I was walking home with my friend when a car full of middle-aged men slowed down next to us and tried to talk us into getting in. Luckily, there was a store close by, where we run and called her mom to pick us up.
When I was around 9 or 10 years old, things started to change, and men started to notice me. It was horrible. I remember comments from my creepy neighbor, my friend's dad, the dude who used to work with my mom, my coach, and just people passing by. I think some older boys commented on my looks the first time when I was 10 years old, and in general, they were the worst. Not only comments, the stare is something you can't mistake when you get it. It makes you feel vulnerable, scared, and ashamed of yourself when you are a child. You just want to hide and cry out of disgust.
I grow the hips and booty of a grown woman when I was around 12 years old, and since then, I know some men didn't consider me to be a child. It was around then when the first time a complete stranger. I felt hatred towards those men. Fortunately, it was compensated with the majority of good adults that made you feel comfortable and safe. Still, I am not exaggerating when I say that the way they acted was traumatizing.
If I had to single out one event that really shocked me was when I was working my first summer job. A dude dressed in a nice suit came in and we had a quick chat. He then took a napkin out of this pocket and tried to hand it to me, and like an idiot, I reached my hand out and he handed me the napkin. Then, he looked me kindly in the eyes and said in a completely normal, nonchalant voice, 'I want you to know I touched myself with this thinking off you.'
He then flashed a nice warm smile before he exited the store in a relaxed manner. He even said hello to my boss on his way out. It took my brain a while to react and realize what happened, and when it finally did, I cried for a long time in the bathroom. I think the reason this still angers me so much is that I failed to react in any way until he was gone. I was just frozen instead of immediately screaming to my boss and telling her not to let him leave. It was my first summer job, and I was enjoying every second thinking that it was a place where I was completely safe and had my guards down. There was nothing suspicious or alarming in that guy, he wasn't some creepy hobo who you don't feel like you can't trust.
Ask any woman and you will hear a story of someone acting inappropriately towards them in a heartbreakingly young age."
"I was 7 years old. One of my male classmates kept referring to me as a 'naked lady.'
He harassed me the whole time we went to school together, all the way through high school. It culminated in him showing off how 'big' he was by pulling his shorts tight to show me. I did not want to see it, asked him not to, then begged him to stop. He did it in the middle of Spanish class.
The school didn't really do anything about him. I was mostly told to relax and be happy a boy liked me, especially a popular boy. He did get yelled at for showing off his member, but just by our Spanish teacher and we were just weeks away from graduation at that point."
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"I was in fifth grade though, so I was about 10 or 11 years old. I remember a bunch of older boys asking if I had intimate dreams about them and about my lady part hair. I didn't even know what lady part hair or intimate dreams meant, but the way asked and their tone made me feel embarrassed. I knew something was wrong but I couldn't tell what it was.
My chest grew in the next year, so it was all men-shouting-gross-things-from-cars whenever I was out alone in public from that time forward. That only started to slow down when I gained a significant amount of weight after an ankle accident when I was 24 years old. It still happens, but not as much. I find it a lot more comfortable to be out in public now that fewer men see my body as easy to objectify. I love that I can walk to work without regularly getting harassed."
"I was 14 years old. I had gotten out of dance class and I was wearing a baggy shirt, shorts, and tall ugg boots over my leotard and tights. I wasn't wearing any makeup.
My mom had taken me to Walgreens, and it happened in the drink aisle as I was reached for a Snapple. An old dude, had to have been at least 70 years old, started walking towards me and loudly exclaimed, 'You are looking hot tonight, girly!'
I slammed the drink cooler door shut and raced to find my mom in the store, only to realize this man was now following me. I found my mom a on the other side of the store looking at makeup, told her I had to leave the store now and had a full-blown panic attack in the car."
"There was a male clerk at a local 7/11 my sister and I would go to. The clerk always made comments towards my sister about how she should smile more because 'guys like it when girls smile.'
One time, the clerk's assistant asked me if we'd like to stick around after his shift to eat ice cream with him. He was around 22 years old, and the clerk was probably in his 50s. My sister was 16 years old, and I was 13 years old. We told him, no, and we never went to that 7/11 again."
"I received a phone call from a guy when I was 11 years old. He said he was doing a research study for the University of Hawaii (the local college) and asked if I could answer some questions.
I agreed. He asked me things like my name, age, and grade. I was naive and I answered honestly. He asked if I had an older sister. I did not. He said it was fine and asked a couple more questions. He then started asking me really explicit questions. I stuttered a few 'what kind of study is this' questions, while he attempted to assure me it was legit while continuing to ask, in a very calm manner, all of these really explicit questions. I hung up.
My memory of exactly what happened after is a little fuzzy. I was home alone and scared. I'd never received any sort of 'desirable' attention from anyone at that point in my life. I felt confused, disgusted, and frightened.
He tried calling back the next week. I told him I'd call the police and I never heard from him again.
A few years later, I was chatting with two of my closest friends and found out they had been called by the same guy. I didn't realize until I was an adult that the creep caller was likely someone we knew (we went to a very small private school). Either that or this guy was a prolific creeper calling every girl in the phone book. Both possibilities gross me out for very different reasons."
"I'll remember this one for the rest of my life. I was 14 or 15, and walking to the coffee shop down the street from my parent's house. It was summer, and it was hot. I was wearing a white strapless tank top, which was very fitted (I have a big chest, and developed early).
In the entrance of the coffee shop were a bunch of older men, they were all friends of my dad's. As soon as I walked in they all started to stare and talk to each other, but one of them took it further, he looked at me with a dirty look and said (in Portuguese) 'aí mamas mamas,' which both means a reference to my chest and 'suck my member.'
I felt like throwing up. I knew these men. I trusted them. I came home and told my parents. More that 15 years later, my dad still hates that guy. Although I feel bad about it, I also feel kind of safe and loved because of that. My dad is a great dad."
"I was in the 10th grade. I had to go back to my locker for a book or something. My friends had all already gone to the bus stop. On the way to meet them, I walked two city blocks, and I got catcalled by some creepy guy in a truck.
When I got to the bus stop, I told my best friend and she accused me of lying for attention. For a supposed fake person's attention. Because if she had been there, they would have been jeering her? I guess? We weren't friends long after that.
I was terrified and self-conscious and awkward, and I honestly thought this guy was going to follow me home and probably hurt me. My best friend was jealous."
"I was 9 years old. My sisters and I were getting our portraits drawn somewhere in Florida. I was wearing a black and white gingham skort and a matching top with white daisies on it and a green shirt underneath.
I didn't notice, but there was a man hiding under something or other with a big camera taking pictures up my skort.
My dad noticed, though. He chased the guy down the street but lost him in the crowd. But, I remember later on the beach my aunt asking if I knew what had happened earlier. I just said 'not really,' but I kind of did. That portrait still hangs on our living room wall."