harassment, stalking, verbal

Arianna’s Story: Kirby drive-by stalker

I just finished with my interview at one of the nearby stores (which tells you I was dressed professionally, like it should matter) and was heading towards Richmond Blvd down Kirby Dr to catch the bus home. I’m walking past a car and I hear someone make the ever-popular kissy noise at me. I identify the source and flip him off and curse him out and keep walking.

I’m a couple blocks down, and in my peripheral I see a black car in the driveway/parking lot of a business going pretty slow. I look and it’s the SAME GUY with his PHONE OUT taking pictures and grinning. I again flip him off and shout at him and of course he drove off.  I yelled that I’d call the police (will that do any good?).  I got his plate, a basic description of his car and what I could see of him.

It was a black sedan and he was a little heavy set from what I could see shoulders-up and probably mid 40+, with short greyish hair wearing sunglasses.

I’m marking this as stalking because he followed me to get the second look, and other because he took pictures.

Admin note:  Below is a helpful link to info on stalking and the process for reporting and finding assistance in Houston.


I've got your back!

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Week In Our Shoes: HOLLA Is Where The Heart Is Editon

Repost from 2/14/14 showcasing the latest greatest work being done by the global Hollaback! community:

Week In Our Shoes: HOLLA Is Where The Heart Is Edition

Hello Hollabackers! 

This week, our Executive Director, Emily May, was named an Ashoka Fellow!! Such a great honor. Check out this awesome video introducing her as an Ashoka Fellow, talking about Hollaback! and our work to end street harassment. Congrats Emily!! Also, Hollaback! launched the FIRST EVER Educator’s Guide to Street Harassment. The guide is geared toward teachers, guidance counselors, parents and other educators in New York City who want to address the issue of street harassment amongst middle and high school aged students. Alongside the release, our Deputy Director, Debjani Roy, wrote an article on Huffington Post titled “When Was the First Time You Were Harassed?”.

Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to: 

Hollaback! Boston will be attending SoJust’s Dating While Progressive event today as a support for anyone who feels uncomfortable and to promote Hollaback!’s safe spaces for all mission!

Hollaback! Appalachian Ohio gave four 45-minute workshops to twenty-seven 8th graders at Vinton Middle School on consent, deconstructing rape culture, gender stereotypes, and bystander intervention. Also, they will be holding a workshop today titled Geography of Street Harassment on the Female Body. Hollabackers Nancy Gomez and Priyanka Kazi will be exploring the relationship between personal experiences of street harassment and the public spaces in which these unwelcome encounters take place. Finally, today they will be distributing the empowering self-love Valentines (pictured above) that they created last week across Athens for students. Feel the HOLLA love!

Hollaback! Czech will be standing up against cyber bullying today. Join them in acknowledging the importance of cyber violence, strengthening the laws against it,  and demanding justice for victims.

Hollaback! Des Moines had a special Monthly Meetup this week where they were joined by representatives from One Iowa to discuss health care needs of LGBTQ folks in the Des Moines area. They have meetups on the second Tuesday of every month. Make sure to check out the next one in March! The will also be participating in the second annual V-Day One Billion Rising flash mob with One Billion Rising DSM and Kees Camp TODAY in the downtown skywalks!

Hollaback! Melbourne has a new home! Thanks to generous sponsorship, their office will now be located at The Electron Workshop in North Melbourne. The Electron Workshop is an inclusive and accessible co-working space in North Melbourne, with an emphasis on openness, collaboration, and building mutually beneficial relationships. They have a commitment to supporting women in business and are a welcoming and safe space. Congrats!

Hollaback! Philly has announced the presenters for their upcoming speaker series on human sex trafficking of domestic girls with various experts from across the country.  Speakers include John O’Neill (a homicide prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office), Tina Frundt (survivor of human trafficking, Frederick Douglass Award winner, and founder of Courtney’s House), and Dr. Mary Anne Layden  (psychotherapist and Director of Education at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of PA). O’Neill’s talk, entitled ”How They Got There: dispelling myths about prostitution and sex trafficking”, will clarify the very engrained myths about prostitution and human trafficking. She will be speaking about her experiences with trafficking, both at the survivor and service provider levels. Frundt will be speaking about her experiences with trafficking, both at the survivor and service provider levels. Finally, Layden’s talk will focus on the beliefs surrounding male sexual demand and their contribution to the commercial sexual exploitation of sex trafficking in the United States. This series sounds amazing!!

Super exciting things happening in the HOLLA world! Til next week-

HOLLA and out!

- The Hollaback! Team

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harassment, physical

Amy’s Story: “They like the power of the harm they cause”

Reposted from Hollaback! Main in NYC and originally published on January 24, 2014 at 4:08 am:

groping, Story
Amy’s Story: “They like the power of the harm they cause”
This is something that I witnessed, but it is for sure going to be one of those moments that I will never forget.
I was about 15. I was with my sisters at the bus stop waiting for the the bus to come by one afternoon on a very busy day.
The bus finally comes and everyone at the bus stop immediately go up to the bus to be the first one to board and claim a seat all the while those that were on the bus are struggling to unboard. I decided to step back and just wait till everything calmed down, and what I saw next shocked me and choked me up.
There was an old man, probably in his 80′s, unboarding, who due to his old age had a hard time coming down the steps of the bus. I then notice that when he finally makes it down, a young man, probably in his 20′s, grope his crotch and doesn’t let go for what seems like a long few seconds. The young man then casually goes up the steps and boards the bus. The old man, however, has a look of shock on his face. I see humiliation and sadness then set over him as he looks around, probably to see if anyone had witnessed this act. He stands there for a few seconds, very still, in the middle of the chaotic crowd. Humiliated. Then slowly walks away with a look on his face that I will never forget.
I felt absolutely horrible. One, because of what happened to him, and two, for not doing anything. I don’t think I will forgive myself for not stepping up.
This old man, who instead of being respected, was violated in one of the worst ways possible. What a sad scene to see a weak old man, who probably had so much to be proud of in his long life, be humiliated like this.
This goes to show that sexual harassers just violate people because they like the power of the harm they cause. It has nothing to do with what the victim is wearing at all, as many people like to think.

I've got your back!

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harassment, physical, stalking, verbal

Skye’s story

I went for an MLK Day bike ride.  At hour 3, a truck pulled up and threw a bottle of urine at me. I lost my balance and did not get the license plate number.  My helmet, my fluorescent vest, my bike, and my panniers filled with snacks and my cancer biology textbook were covered in urine.  I pulled off and found someone doing yard work to stand with me until I recovered.

Eventually, I decided to get back on my route so I could find my way home.  The truck found me again.  I panicked and tried to get off the road where they couldn’t hit me with their truck or grab me.  When I looked at the driver, I saw two teenage boys.  Thank God they drove past me and I started biking back to the man doing yard work.  While I was stopped at a light, the truck drove by again at 40 mph and the passenger yelled “sorry”.  He was sorry after he realized that I am a 21 year old woman, that I am pretty, and that I was absolutely terrified.

I am sure that they were not sorry when they came up behind me thinking I was just a body on a bike and that they wouldn’t have been sorry if I was a man.  They had nothing else to say: no rationale, no excuse, no actual apology.  If you know any teenage boys please make sure that they know that pranks are not funny.  Especially pranks that involve an anonymous 6000 lb vehicle versus a 130 lb woman alone and exhausted in the middle of a workout.

I do not want to vilify drivers.  I am a driver, so I really don’t want to be looped in with awful men who attacked me.  I also know that teenage boys do not represent the whole population, but after getting honked at, yelled at, and having cars intrude into my lane while biking home, I really wish all people would just respect each other on the road.


I've got your back!

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the movement

Please, be careful.

yelling in stairwellSometimes, I feel like careful is unfortunately synonymous with paranoid.  As well meaning as it may be to offer those three words of advice, “please, be careful”…what else specifically can one do to live safely if they can’t imagine how to be any more careful than they already are?  Hazards are everywhere and sometimes the thought just makes me want to hit the snooze button and go back to burrowing for 5 more minutes!  But, I can’t.  I’ve got a life to live, fun to have, delicious foods to consume and service to give back to my community.

I have collected below some alarming Houston reports of assaults that were clustered around the end of 2013 and into the new year.  These cases have been on my mind for a while as they literally hit close to home and the frequency really just stopped me in my tracks.  Maybe for some of you too?  Which, predictably allowed paranoid thoughts to flood in and a preference to just stay in.  It’s been too cold anyway.  The details provided in these news reports are limited, but it’s important to relate them to the work the Hollaback! community is doing.

Street harassment can be viewed as “not a big deal” or referred to sarcastically as “street harassment” (imagine bunny finger air quotes…then roll your eyes).  Also, please refer to our Myths section.  Also, consider the fact that Hollaback! has local chapters in 71 cities and 24 countries as of NOW.  I always tell people how deeply obliged I feel to be a part of this cause knowing that women on the other side of the globe face much more widespread scrutiny and danger for speaking out about gender based violence and do it anyway.  This is not a small issue.  One of the many goals of Hollaback! Houston is to start conversations that get people thinking differently about the urgency to take reports of harassment seriously and ultimately lead to building a new, empathetic perspective towards those who have experienced an emotional and or physical invasion.

A common misconception to dismantle is the idea that anti-street harassment efforts are designed to keep people from engaging in casual social encounters.  If I don’t know you and I am headed to work on my bike, waiting for a bus, wearing headphones, reading a book or any number of solitary activities, I’m likely not giving out signals that I’m waiting for your conversation or to give out my phone number.  A setting in which I choose to be leisurely and approachable looks more like me at a music venue, potluck, social bike ride, art opening or interactive workshop…geez!  But…but…how do you know if it’s okay to approach someone?!


You don’t really.


Same vagueness I have about trusting a random stranger to not assault/rape/murder me who can’t take “NO” for an answer, follows me for blocks demanding to have a greeting reciprocated, won’t stop staring at me, thinks they’re extra special because I’m stuck interacting with them at my work and I am a kind human being who smiles and looks them in the eye when they speak and am CLEARLY NOT giving clearance to them slyly cupping my hands or touching my hair, slows down and keeps pace with me in a vehicle while I’m on my bike then asks if they can get a ride/if I wanna race, makes vulgar comments about my body or masturbates in front of me at a cafe.  Sigh.  All of which I have encountered and lived to tell the tale.  Self control is a funny thing.


Here’s a few more thoughts from a recent Huffington Post article by Amanda Scherker while I catch my breath from all those run-ons:

Here’s what every woman wants to say to people who “holler” at them on the street:

You may be harmless. You may be dangerous. I have no idea — and that’s scary.

As the blog Brute Reason explains: “You may think that you’re a perfectly nice guy who’d never actually hurt anyone as you stand there and whistle at a woman, but she doesn’t know that, and therein lies the horror of it.” Nearly 57 percent of women have been touched or grabbed by strangers in public, and 82 percent have encountered vulgar gestures from strangers. There’s no reason for your unsolicited sexual attentions to add to those statistics.

Using “nice” words doesn’t make it okay.

Calling a woman “beautiful” may sound harmless in your head, but if you’re invading a stranger’s personal space, it’s not. Not sure if an encounter would constitute harassment? Longtime women’s rights activist Bernice Sandler recommends going through a checklist of questions, including, “Would I mind if someone treated my spouse, partner, girlfriend, mother, sister, or daughter this way?” If the answer is yes, just zip your lips and move on with your day.


So, please be careful.


Me being responsible for my own safety is me:  holding a harasser accountable for disrespectful treatment by confronting and calling it out (or putting it on HBH later!), being honest about not being interested and clear that it is non-negotiable, deciding I’d rather trust my intuition and put my safety before the bummer I may inflict upon a rejected suitor (a respectable person will respect your decision), wearing my bike helmet/riding with lights at night/using hand signals/not wearing headphones while riding/carrying tools, keeping my phone charged, anticipating verbal harassment, practicing responses and sharing my story.

This list is specific to what goes through my mind on a regular basis.  It is not an exhaustive list.  Most of it falls under the category of being proactive. It is not for everybody and is not my prescription for ultimate safety.  It is not foolproof.  I am not perfect.  Putting this list into practice as a routine is what brings me peace of mind and confidence.  

Please do check out our Resources and Research pages for more insight and look forward to upcoming Hollaback! Houston workshops on responding to harassers.

-Hermie E.


**TRIGGER WARNING** The news reports below describe sexual assaults.


Collected Houston reports that prompt people to suggest that you be careful or more careful and things that can haunt a person’s mind when being harassed in public:

12.9.13 - Houston police investigating alleged abduction, sexual assault of Baybrook Mall employee

12.12.13 - Woman walking dog near Montrose sexually assaulted

12.20.13 - HPD: Man fondled female jogger at TC Jester Park

1.3.14 - Jogger sexually assaulted, robbed in Hershey Park restroom

1.9.14 - FBCSO releases sketch of man wanted in sexual assault


Another more general, yet important plea to take street harassment seriously from Soraya Chemaly at huffingtonpost.com.  This article also contains graphic accounts of assault.

9.27.13 - Street Harassment: Is a Man Running Over a 14-Year Old Girl for Refusing Sex Serious Enough?

If you have read this far and still don’t believe street harassment is a problem…

YouTube Preview Image

…and we’ll keep working harder.

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Creeps around Kroger – Montrose: Anonymous’ Story

I was walking past Kroger on the Hawthorne side and an older model white SUV or truck with a camper (I can’t remember because I was too upset to take notice) pulled up next to me and the guy in the passenger seat said to me,”Wow, you have really big titties! Like HUGE titties!” I replied,”You suck at life. Loser.”
Also, two weeks ago I was again on my way to work when someone screamed (repeatedly) “Suck my dick, beautiful!” in Spanish. That time I just ignored it, which is probably why it was screamed at me repeatedly.

I've got your back!

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Week In Our Shoes: The Last Edition of 2013

Check out what our global team has been up to lately!

Repost from Hollaback! main:

Published on December 31,2013 at 3:27 pm in The Movementno comments 



Hello Hollabackers!

During the last weeks of 2013, Hollaback! was featured by She RightsThe Vancouver SunThe Vancouver StraightThe ProvinceOttawa CitizenVelvet Butter BlogTruth Out and Jezebel (plus a few others that will surely be included once the holiday break is over and the press list is updated!).


Hollaback’s DD, Debjani Roy, was chosen as one of  20 women chosen to join the 2013  Progressive Women’s Voices Class at the Women’s Media Center. Congrats!


Here’s what the HOLLAs around the world have been up to:


Hollaback! Korea held their site launch party and got tons of great press covering the event! They posted lots of pictures and even some video of the event!

Hollaback! Houston also had amazing launch party called Holla From the Rooftop, check out their pictures of the event here!

Hollaback! Vancouver was interviewed for their first radio spot!

Hollaback! Philly will be featured in an amazing documentaryStreets To Call Our Own! The film will cover “the emergence of the anti-street harassment movement and the current efforts of HollabackPHILLY … through the lens of Philadelphia.” Check out the trailer on the kickstater page.

Way to close out 2013 HOLLAs!!!!
-The Hollaback! Team

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the movement

Awesome New Interview From Meredith Nudo!

Just before our launch party, Hermie had an opportunity to be interviewed for Meredith Nudo’s blog, Hardcore Nudoty.  Meredith is a cool person, smart writer and one of the previous founding Directors of Hollaback! Houston who now generously makes herself available for consulting with current and future HBH team members.  Thanks Meredith!!! <3

Here is an excerpt from the post:

Hollaback! Houston officially relaunched earlier last week, under the leadership of Hermie Escamilla. She has impressively thrown all her passion, enthusiasm and creativity into ensuring greater public safety for women, people of color, the LGTBQIA community, persons with disabilities, and other demographics frequently on the receiving end of verbal or physical street harassment – but, of course, stories from ones who aren’t still get accepted. To celebrate the new website and Sunday’s official launch party, Escamilla very kindly answered a few questions about her organization and what she hopes to accomplish in the years ahead…”

You can read the entire interview here:

Interview with Hermie Escamilla of Hollaback! Houston




P.S.  The launch party was also AWESOME!  Thanks to everyone that partied with us in that 30 degree weather!  A recap will appear soon with more pics!

image (3)

Slide presentation and Ornaments conducting sound check against the backdrop of downtown Houston! Photos by Jessica Miller.

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