TW: sexual assault and rape.
It was a very hot afternoon of June 2000. I wanted to go to the library but instead of going directly there I decided to go to buy a bottle of mineral water. It was 2:00pm. It was in the heart of the city and it was crowded. People were going back to work after lunch.
“Bonjour! Ca va?”.
I was catcalled, whistled, stalked almost every day, like a lot of other women and girls but we didn’t speak about it at that time. I even did not know the concept of “street harassment” I was really fed up and sometimes even scared because the insults were often violents. I felt very bad. I knew some others girls experienced the same problem but we never mentionned it. And when we were told insults and degrading comments in crowded spaces, people around did like they didn’t see or hear anything. Some others even laughed and gave support to the harrasser.
I knew I was more alone in the crowd than in an isolated little dark street.
“Bonjour! Ca va?” One more time. He did not called me “sweetie” or “you’re so hot” or “wanna suck it?” but the way he spoke to me, the tone, his body so closed to mine, almost touching me didn’t let me have any doubt about what he was doing.
“Where u going?” I started to feel bad. I did not reply but shaked my hand and head for a “no, I don’t wanna speak” and accelerate to show I was in a hurry.
“I saw u at the uni. Don’t u have a lecture today?”
I kept silent.
“Don’t wanna talk? Who do u think you are? think u’re Miss Universe?”
I don’t really remember what he told me after that. He was still following me. I was in the supermarket buying a bottle of mineral water and he bought one bottle too.
He told me again while I was paying my bottle of water that I was acting like Miss Universe and I should be nicer with him.
I did not pay any attention and left, walking very fast.
He followed me.
I walked to the library.
He came to the library with me.
I tried to lost him.
He was always on my shoulders.
I told him I was not interested.
He wanted my phone number.
I told him “No!”
He insisted and insisted ans insisted.
I gave him a false number.
He called me right away and of course, found out this was not my number.
He got angry.
I don’t remember how long it lasted after that. I remember feeling helpless, tired, scared. I remember I couldn’t hear anything but my heartbeat. Faster and faster. It was hanging into my head. My ears was ringing.
All I remember is him, in underwear and me on the sofa. But I know what happened.
Instead of wonder how it has been possible for him to stalk me, harrass me, threat me in day light in a public space until I was so scared, terrified and paralized that I couldn’t empeach him to follow me home and come in, I blame myself for letting him enter.
It took years to me to understand it was not my fault. I haven’t done anything wrong.
He is the only responsible. He followed me when I clearly told him I did not want speak to him. He forced me to give my phone number when I told clearly I did not want to. He never paid attention to my repeatedly “NO!”.
It was his fault. And the society’s fault as well. Why nobody. NOBODY helped me? Why nobody never reacted? Never moved even the little finger to stop him?
I was and still am so upset and disgusted. Especially because it is not an isolated case.
In fact you just need to open a newspaper to see almost everyday a case of sexual assault that has been witnessed by plenty of people and even not identify as a sexual assault by the majority of them.
What’s wrong in our society?
This week is the International anti-street harrassment week. If only people could realize how harmful street harrassment is…