When I was 17, a man at a stoplight began to leer and make obscene gestures at me from his car. I tried to ignore him, but when I looked over at my door to make sure the locks were down, he then motioned to his crotch and began to unzip his pants. What a considerate guy, I must have looked so bored waiting at the stoplight, and he wanted to entertain me. Thankfully, the light turned green and I sped off. I got my windows tinted soon after.
I'm 17 still, in the high school cafeteria, going down the lunch line trying to get the 'fresh' batch of tater tots. The track coach proclaims 'excuse me' as he slowly squeezes by me, rubbing his erection on my backside.
In Italy, I'm riding the bus with my mom and sister, and it's very crowded, so we get separated. A man behind me presses against me in the crowd and starts grinding his erection against me. I'm frozen in fear. I try to inch my hips away but he grabs them and holds them against him. I'm numb. He starts fumbling with my skirt to pull it up. I'm thinking, this guy is going to rape me right on this bus and noone will notice it. At some point, an old Italian man notices what is happening, and presumably my face frozen in terror, and takes his cane and pokes the perpetrator with it and then grabs my arm and pulls me aside. I still can't ride a crowded bus or metro without great anxiety.
I'm in Baltimore, taking the metro back from downtown where I was studying in a coffee shop. I'm waiting on the quiet platform, it is just me and a man who won't stop pacing and staring at me. The train comes, and I make an effort to choose the car furthest from him, but as I sit down, I notice he's run down the platform to catch the same car. I am uncomfortable, but there is another man in the car, so I am hoping this creeper won't try anything when someone else is there. Wrong! The man comes and sits next to me and asks my name. I don't respond, and he grabs my arm angrily and belts, 'WHAT'S YOUR NAME, BITCH'. He repeats this 5 or 6 times, getting angrier with each. I notice he is masturbating with his other hand. I am frozen in fear as he tries to pull my hand towards his crotch. In my fear I look over pleadingly at the other man in the car. He is laughing. We arrive at the next stop and I bolt out of the subway and sob in my room for the next hour.
I felt alone and ashamed from all of these experiences, until I realized it happens to so many people and that I'm NOT alone. It's not my fault, and it's not yours.