Bystander Intervention: “They were standing in the door waiting for the drunkest girls.”

I was out for Halloween with a friend and was sitting at a table near the door. These two guys hovered by me for about twenty minutes until one asked to buy me a drink. I already had a drink and wasn’t looking for extra company, so I said no. No big deal.

Eventually I moved to a different spot, but over the next few hours, I noticed these guys continuing to hover and basically zero in on every girl who walked through without another guy, especially the ones who looked pretty far gone. Most seemed like they could handle themselves, so I didn’t say anything until one tried to get physical with a girl who was really, really drunk and just trying to dance. She was dancing in a circle with her girlfriends and he came up behind her–uninvited–and started trying to grind all over her without saying anything. I was standing next to her, so I just put my arm between them and guided her towards her friends. They then helped guide her to a different area where he couldn’t touch her. One of her friends smiled at me and said, “Thank you, that guy was creeping me out.” I said, “No problem,” and they went about their evening.

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Stories, Verbal Harassment

Anonymous: “Smile! Beautiful.”

I was walking down the street and some guy told me “Smile! Beautiful.”
I also experienced it that the same guy was doing this exact thing to 2 or 3 other women 5 seconds before me, only he asked those ladies for their numbers.


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Stories, Verbal Harassment

Rebecca’s Story: “I marched right across the street and confronted them.”

Cedar Rapids, IA – I was 17 and walking in my workout gear to the local neighborhood school to walk around the track. A young boy, about 14, was with his friend on their bikes in their driveway. On my way to the track he yelled, “I’d love to see what’s under those clothes!” and “girl, you have no idea what i’d like to do to you,” etc., ad nauseum.

I did my walk around the track, thinking how angry I was that I just took the harassment and didn’t do anything about it. I made myself walk up that same street, and the boys were still there. One of them said something about masturbating and thinking of me and I marched right across the street to where they were and confronted them.

“Do you think that’s funny? Do you think I am not a person who hears everything you say?” they were stunned, looked at each other, gulped.

“Would you want someone yelling that crap to your sister or your mother? Well, WOULD YOU?”

“um, no. no… i wouldn’t.”

‘Then apologize to me.”

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”

“OK. Don’t ever do it again. That is not ok.”


I walked back home. That felt so good, and I think it gave those boys a personal face to what they were doing. I think about that conversation a lot.

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stalking, Stories, Verbal Harassment

Anonymous: “He refused to take no for an answer.”

I went on a date with this boy in high school. I decided I’d rather be friends after the date, I was uncomfortable. I told him I didn’t like him like that, but he continued to pursue me. He told all my friends/ family we were together. I explained over & over I did not want to be his girlfriend, but he refused to take no for an answer. Now 5 years later I was at Rensfest with my bf, and the same guy came up to me and expected me to be all affectionate and hug him. It makes me so uneasy…


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Homophobia, Stories, Verbal Harassment

Clio’s Story: “They then proceeded to talk about how they were going to rape us.”

So I was on a casual bus ride back from Whole Foods with my friend on the 3, a popular bus route for students of Drake University like myself. At the Walmart stop, a group of 5 young (high school aged) boys got on the bus and sat around us. They started pestering us asking our names, where we went to school, etc. They then proceeded to talk about how they were going to rape us, saying things along the lines of, “Haha I’m totally going to rape them,” or “Wait till we tell (so and so) that we raped those girls on the bus.” In between these remarks, they made several homophobic comments, referenced incest and pedophilia, and jokes about sexual assault of elders. Overall it was a miserable experience. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t even go buy organic produce without being verbally harassed…

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Anonymous: “I have been tolerating this crap for years.”

I’m female, middle-aged, and have been tolerating this crap for years. It’s rare that I can walk to the store without individuals leaning out their windows and yelling filthy words and remarks at me. They all appear to be in their late teens or early twenties. While I don’t know whether or not they’re students, it’s always occurred within a couple of blocks from Lincoln High School.

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Verbal Harassment

HOLLA on the Go

Walking on a crosswalk and got yelled at by a stopped car.

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Hollaback!, RAYGUN take on street harassment in Des Moines

Des Moines, Iowa—Hollaback! Des Moines, a grassroots volunteer organization, has launched a new campaign in partnership with RAYGUN to raise community awareness against street harassment.

“Street harassment is unwanted attention in public spaces, often based on gender expression or perceived sexuality, and it is treated as a given by many women, girls and LGBT individuals. Meanwhile, most people who are not harassed do not realize how much it happens,” said Becca Lee, director of Hollaback! Des Moines.

The movement encourages community members to take a public stance against street harassment, such as catcalling, unwanted sexual comments and disparaging remarks, through sharing stories and creative activism. This month, individuals can purchase a RAYGUN t-shirt, with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting Hollaback! Des Moines. hollaback-2

“There are countless t-shirts that promote sexual harassment, but very few that call out harassing behaviors. We’re proud to partner with RAYGUN to use smart t-shirt humor to put the joke back on the harasser instead of the target,” Lee said.

“People who harassingly shout at others from a distance may be under the impression that’s the best way to communicate. We wanted to have a small part in dissuading that behavior,” said Mike Draper, owner and founder of RAYGUN.

Lee says she founded the Hollaback! Des Moines chapter in 2011 after years of experiencing street harassment as a college student.

“There was a week where I couldn’t go outside my apartment building without hearing a harasser yell something vulgar at me,” says Lee. “The guy knew where I lived, what kind of car I drove, and I felt very unsafe to go about my daily life.”

Hollaback! encourages people to speak out about harassment and see the connection between harassment on the street and sexual assault and other forms of violence.

“Harassment is a gateway crime in that it isn’t illegal, but it creates a cultural environment where gender-based violence and rape is taken less seriously,” says Jessica Staskal, communications specialist at the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “By working to bring awareness and an end to street harassment, we hope to create a safer, more welcoming community for all.”

T-shirts are available for purchase at RAYGUN in Des Moines or online at For more information, email [email protected].

Hollaback! Des Moines is among more than 79 teams across 26 countries who are using grassroots organizing and mobile technology to end street harassment. The movement provides a free mobile app for reporting street harassment safely and anonymously. The app is available in nine languages for iPhone and Droid.

Hollaback! is an international movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. By collecting stories from women and LGBTQ individuals in a safe and share-able way, Hollaback! is creating a crowd-sourced initiative to end street harassment.Share your story at, find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at @Hollaback_DSM.


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