Share a story in which you were sexually harassed (verbally/physically) or any experience pertaining to this heinous issue.

Meg Tuite

Just a Breath Away

I was walking home at dusk after grocery shopping. I lived in Chicago then. My headphones were on and I was carrying a bag. I noticed a guy across the street about a block down in a white raincoat. Something got my intuition going. Not that it would take anything more than being a woman alone on the street. When I checked again, he was about ½ block away. My heart started pounding. I took off my headphones. Started walking as fast as I could with my groceries. I turned again and saw arms coming over my head. It was him. I threw my bag of food back at him and started screaming ‘FIRE’! I was close enough to my apartment building for them to hear me. Neighbors were opening windows. When I turned again the guy was running off. I reported him to the cops later. And there are many stories. This is just one.

Meg Tuite

Gee Whiz It’s Christmas

I am thirteen, an eighth grader. Today is the class Christmas party and I decide on a white long-sleeve scoop-neck tee and dark blue Levi 501s. My hair is cut in a new style like Halle Berry in Boomerang. I feel pretty.

The boys are standing in a pack laughing amongst themselves. I stand near the girls, but not too near. I have gone from nice, but unnoticed, to unpopular because of my summer transformation. The girls have started a rumor that I stuff my bra.

A boy I know, a boy I like, calls me over. He separates from the pack and I do the same. We stand in the middle drinking punch and munching sugar cookies from a tin. We talk, about what I can’t remember.

Another boy creeps into the small space between us and eyes the wisp of décolletage at my neckline. In the space of a second he pulls down my shirt. Beneath my shirt is a navy blue satin bra, the prettiest bra I own, now exposed to the entire class.

Both sides of the room laugh. I cry and run out of the room. Down the hall. Out the school. Into the snow.

Kenesha Williams

Service

There’s a guy who works in my office who sexually harassed me. He wasn’t fired after HR investigated. It was my word against his. He started bringing a service dog to work every day. Because you know, he suffers from anxiety and shit. That’s what’s up.

Hillary Leftwich

No Harm

When the elderly man joined me on the park bench, I moved my bag for him.

When he told me about his life in Cardiff, I nodded politely and smiled.

When he poured out words about his long gone wife, I tilted my head towards him.

When he started talking about the moon and how it changes women, I discreetly checked the park for others. There were none.

When he talked about women bleeding every month and how it wasn’t right, wasn’t normal, I began to check my watch and pack my bag.

When he put his hand on my thigh I told him how lovely it had been to meet him but I had to go.

When he cackled as I walked away I told myself that he was just an old man, that he wouldn’t be able to catch me.

When I walked home through the rose garden I urged myself to calm down, to shake it off, because nothing had really happened. No harm had been done. Had it?

Gaynor Jones

The Visiting Artist

The visiting artist pushed the door of my studio closed behind him. A shadow of disapproval crossed his face as he glanced at my collage on the opposite wall. ‘Look at that,’ he pulled a stool too close to my chair and sat down. “Is that how you would treat your children?”

I had been looking at the predella panels of medieval altarpieces that often showed two or three time shifts in one image. I had wanted to talk about narrative. “My children?”

“What did you use to fix it there? Thumbtacks?” He shook his head assessing me.

“I used my staple gun.”

“You’re not ugly,” he said, “but you’re not making the best of yourself.” His hand made an arc around my face. “Your hair—you could do more.” I felt his weight shift, his arm now touching me. “Have you considered taking an acting class?” Like a gentle iceberg he had begun to press against me.

“The paper you’re using, is it archival? Will it last?”

There was a knock on the door. I leapt up as it opened, too fast, as if I’d been caught in the act.

It was his wife.

“It’s time for lunch,” she said.

Sarah Day

Women — Stay Alert! Darkness Surrounds Us!

Walking alone in a blizzard after a late class, I locate my jeep in the parking lot, throw backpack and books in the rear, and slow start the engine that coughs and complains of cold and hours left alone.

As I pull out through foot-deep snow toward the exit, I see a man’s shape across the lot waving at me beside a car, its hood up. He’s shouting, demanding a jump – Pull my jeep over! Lift its hood! He’s got cables! Hurry Up!

Something in his tone, his stance, smacks of trap, seduction and feigned vulnerability. I imagine my car linked to his. Immobile ––not a soul around––
No cell phones in those days.

Sorry I can’t. I’ll call help for you as soon as I’m home, I shout.

He swears at me. Yells, he hasn’t got time to wait! He starts running
toward my jeep . . .

Get over here now — Bitch!

Martha Kaplan

Crazy Can Save You

I was in college, walking through the deserted campus at around 2AM on my way to the dorm from work. I turned a corner on to a desolate street. Two huge guys were coming towards me from a block away. They were lanky, large basketball players wearing their uniforms and as they got closer I knew they were going to try and rape me. I could feel it all through me and saw it in their eyes as we got closer. They were laughing and pointing at me. I knew I had to do something drastic. There would be no outrunning them. My Dad always told me to go over the energy of whatever was frightening me. So, I went fucking ape shit. I started screaming and charged them, thrashing my arms in the air. I was howling and turned into a wild animal. Windows were opening and I heard people yelling, but no one was as loud as me.

When I got to the guys their eyes were wide and frightened and one of them said ‘you are one fucking crazy girl’ while the other one shielded his face. I ran right through the two of them and didn’t stop until I got to my dorm room and locked the door. My Dad’s words have served me well.

Josie Adams