Public spaces should guarantee safety because everyone is there and watching. However, with the stories doing rounds on social media about how young girls seek protection from strangers following unknown adult men following them around, one cannot be sure anymore about the safety of minors out of the home.
People’s conversations about this topic reveal how rampant creepy behaviour is. This thread on Twitter was of a woman giving a horrifying event she had encountered. A user with the handle @BeingUpile narrated how a 12-year girl grabbed her hand, pleading for her to help. The girl went ahead to how a man had been following her while trying to get home. Though she walked home, she felt a deep fear. She could also see the girl was terrified.
A little girl grabbed my hand and stopped me on my walk today. She said “Help me! A man has been following me and I’m trying to get home”. I walked her home and I’ve felt a deep fear since.
One cannot help but wonder what could have happened if this individual was not around to offer the timely help the young girl needed. When one thinks this is an isolated case, another individual narrates an almost similar encounter. The Twitter user with the handle @thebouncingbird wrote of how she spotted an older man chatting up two teenage girls who seemed very uncomfortable. On interrupting the conversation and inquiring about what was happening, the girls said they did not know him and ran away.
I was in Italy when I noticed an older man chatting up two teenage girls. I couldn’t understand but they looked super uncomfortable. I finally interrupted, asked if they knew him (no), and they ran when I yelled at him. Here’s to being the help we didnt get when we were young.💗
When people think that 12 years is too young for someone to hit on such a girl, another woman tells of how this is happening every day. From a tweep with the handle @Paxalida, it was apparent that sexual harassment occurs from all the time to young girls, perpetrated by grown men. Men hit on her when she was between 12 and 13 more than at any other time in her life.
I really want men to look through this thread so they can see how common it is for girls to be sexually harassed by grown men. I was hit on more when I was 12/13 than any other time in my life.
Being catcalled or hit on at young age is not a good experience. The way that 12-year-old was terrified by the fearful event is the same way almost every woman has had that terrifying experience to remember. According to a user @telletelle_, every woman has experienced such an ordeal with a man. If not, then they know someone who has had the experience.
I truly believe there is not a woman alive that hasn’t had a terrifying experience with a man or knows someone who has
These forms of harassment of young girls happen in so many ways. While others may resort to following a young girl without displaying any form of aggressiveness, others are outright aggressive, and if they get the minor into their hands, God forbid. A tweep with the handle @wheelshoe narrated how, at 13, some stranger guy started chasing her while walking through one alley. When she got into the open, the guy turned around and walked away like nothing ever happened.
once when i was about 13 i was walking home through this one alley. some guy started chasing me. the second I got out of there and into public view he stopped, turned around and walked away. weird people out there….
From the main story, it was clear that the stalker got scared when an adult came to help the young girl get home. However, other men who stalk young girls are very adamant, as was with @rosiefairie’s story. While jogging, a person started catcalling her and following her for many blocks. She called her sister to help her, and the guy did not let her go. She continued pursuing her until some women jogging from an opposite direction offered to stay with her. That was when he relented.
this happened to me when jogging. he catcalled & followed *many* blocks. I called my sister to come get me, but he didn’t let up. Finally i saw two women up ahead & asked if I could stay with them while I waited for my sister — the second i did he left. very grateful to them! ♡
From most instances above, it seems that the recipe for these adults to follow young girls around is the young girl being alone. Most cases from this thread’s responses sprouted from the girls walking alone in public. However, some predators do not even fear when the young girl is with family and friends, as long as they can get an opportunity to execute whatever they want to. @nomadleonor128 wrote of how she had gone to the waterpark with family and friends, and this grown man kept following her, telling her how sexy she was and other inappropriate things that one should not say to a 12-year-old girl.
When I was 12 I went with some friends and their parents to a waterpark and a grown ass man followed me around telling me how sexy I was and asking if I wanted to go kiss behind some trees. I ended up spending the rest of the day glued to my friends parents bc I was so scared.
When catcalling and stalking repeatedly happen from the same person, one may think that the young girl should speak to an adult about it, and here is where the challenge comes in. A Twitter user named @vuvu_matshoba said how she had to change her dressing to dress like a tomboy because she thought no one would understand her. She thought speaking out would attract a beating or an assumption.
This was my life when I was in my early teens and I started dressing like a tomboy to avoid the attention. It worked until I was 18. Back then you didn’t understand because old people were respected and if you said anything you would probably get a hiding for assuming.
While the fear of not being heard or understood may linger, speaking up is actually the best option. Most parents may take the step of standing up for the minor, like in the case of @em0wayne. She and her mum were in a public space, and a certain man kept touching her inappropriately. At some point, she told the mother, who then scared him away.
I was around 12-13 in my homecountry in the middle eastern, I was in a bazaar with my mom and it was crowded, following my mom somebody touched my behind and proceeded to follow us outside untill I informed my mom about it and she scared him away
Sometimes, the young girl undergoing the harassment tries to defend themselves. They try to explain to the catcaller that they are underage. A Twitter user, @curryfruit, and several other women they opted to tell the catcaller that they were minors. Unfortunately, what they said was ignored. They ignored the minor’s pleas and continued with the inappropriate behaviour.
I’m 20 now and got catcalled way more when I was 15, 16 and 17. The most terrifying thing is when you tell the catcaller you’re a minor and they keep trying to talk to you…
In other instances, the minor fails to notice the people following them around with ill intentions. In such cases, adults have come through to rescue them. @AirielChristina1 was shopping at the mall obliviously. A woman pulled her to the side and told her to stay close because she had noticed someone following her. It sounds scary, but one can imagine how many young girls fail to see such a happening around them.
I’ll never forget the lady working at Claire’s that was my “angel” I was just shopping around the mall being oblivious and she pulled me to the side and said hang out in here I’ve been watching you and this man has been following you around. I can only imagine now with HT
Neighbourhoods are other places we cannot just assume are safe. Sometimes, these horrifying acts happen around homes, like in the case of @StephanieRade18. One evening, she was in her yard doing yard work. Then an 8-year-old girl walked up to her, telling her that a man was following her.
This has happened to me before back in 2007 in my neighborhood. I was in my yard, doing yard work. My kids had just come home on the bus and were inside doing homework. All of a sudden a girl about 8 came at me, said a man was following her.
These things happen at home too. Strangers may attempt things if they think they can get away with their actions. @lovexmebby remembers when a stranger pulled up and started taking pictures of her. At the time, she was picking grass in the yard, and the man walked towards her. Scared, she ran into the house.
I remember when I was 5 I was sitting in my front yard pulling grass out of the ground. A man in his car pulled up got out of his car TOOK A PICTURE of me and started walking towards but I ran so fast inside my house…to this day I wonder if he has that picture.
Other forms of harassment come in subtle ways that may seem trivial. When a stranger commits to staring at you to the extent of following you around, even when you move, to look at you it becomes very uncomfortable. @LaVidaEmo had a stranger follow her around while staring at her in public at 14.
Thinking about that time me and my brothers went to a phone repair shop and there was a man just staring at me. I’d chosen a phone case and my brother just needed to pay so told me and my other brother to wait in the car. The guy followed us out to stare at me. I was 14 I think.
The saying, “there is safety in numbers”, played out well for this Twitter user who gave her experience. A Twitter user with the handle @WheelOfFurtune narrated she experienced this. She was walking down the street, and men stared at her in a way that made her very uncomfortable. At that moment, a certain girl walked up and walked close to her. Though they did not talk to each other for a moment, this company was all she needed in such an uncomfortable moment.
This reminds me of a time at night where I was on my way to meet my friends at a bar and the streets were full of men just STARING at me and another girl just start walking by my side, like really close to me like a friend, in silence. We both needed each in that moment 🙁
Moments like walking to school, church, or the nearby shop have acted as opportune moments for the stalkers and abusers to harass minors. Though a short walking distance seems so safe, one cannot think of danger lurking. Some people still carry the trauma of what happened in these brief moments. @mitchelldiaz96 was walking to school when an adult abruptly approached her and kissed her. In a twinkle of an eye, the unexpected and unimaginable happened. Here, there was no time to prevent whatever happened. All there was, was shock and fear.
When I was 13 I was walking to school & I passed this random man’s house where he stopped me & started kissing me. He told me I was a “good kiss” and to keep walking. I was so terrified I cried walking away and never took that same street again. To this day I’m still traumatized
Still, within the neighbourhood, @ProbiePayne was walking to a friend’s home. A car with four men pulled up, and the men asked her to get into the car and help them find their dog. Though she did not give it much thought, it now dawns on her that the whole ordeal could have ended badly.
I was probably like 10 and I was walking to a friend house and these guys in a car it was probably like 4 of them was asking me to get in to help them find their lost dog. I didn’t think much of it at the time but then now I’m like how crazy that could have ended.
Yet again, another woman narrates about how these harassments happened on her way to school. A user with the handle @StillMask remembers the short distance to the bus ride, with uncountable instances of catcalling.
I can’t count the number of times that I was catcalled walking from home or when I used to ride the bus. It’s sad that every woman I know has experienced this. I’m glad you were there for this little girl. It’s terrifying and still happens when I walk alone.
Still, this Twitter user with the handle @NellyBelle3379 had sat behind a mother and a daughter on public transit. The mother seemed consumed with something she was reading. All the while, a person was plopping down and smiling at the girl. This Twitter user wrote a text with a “don’t say anything” instruction, telling her what was happening. Had this woman not done the needful, the mother may have never realized what was happening.
I was on a train once a mother and daughter sat in front of me the mom was reading and a guy plopped down across from them and kept staring and smiling at the girl for a few stops I wrote in my text messages, don’t say anything but this guy is staring at your daughter. I showed her the phone and asked do you know how to get here? She read it and said no sorry and took her child many cars back away from him. She touched my shoulder as thank you on her way back
When others follow them on foot, others use their car because maybe the urge to harass a young girl comes while driving. In this case, running may yield little because one cannot compete with the car’s speed. However, in this case, a diversion may be the move that saves the day. At age 10, @angieworldd noticed a man following her in his car. Instead of walking home, she decided to divert and go to her friend’s house, where the mother picked her up later in the day.
I was 10 walking home from school and I noticed the man following me in the car. I called my friend and went to her house instead (she lived 2 blocks down) and waited for my mom to pick me up from her house later that night. Gave me literal nightmares.
At 13, it would be weird for a stranger man to ask if one had a boyfriend and follow her around. A Twitter user named @theoriginalacw narrated how this dreadful ordeal happened to her as she got off the school bus to walk home.
I remember getting off the school bus and a construction worker came over to ask me if I had a boyfriend and then tried to follow me as I walked home. I was 13.
Some people with ill intentions toward young girls may resort to luring rather than following them and scaring them away. One day, a woman with the handle @georgiesgeorges was sitting on a stoop with her best friend. They were between the ages of 14 and 15. A guy kept driving around the block looking at them, and at some point, he pulled out a stash of money and showed them. We may never know how many girls have fallen for such a lure.
My best friend and I were sitting on a stoop one day when we were probably 14 or 15. A guy kept driving around the block, looking at us. He pulled out a bunch of cash and showed us. We yelled profanities at him and I think I picked my nose. That was my goto for weirdos back then.
One woman opened up about an instance where a grown-up unknowingly lured her into a trap. At age 14, a man chatted @chydorina through her flight and even offered to drive her to the place she headed once they alighted. Unknown to her, the man was not only being kind, but that kindness came with a price to pay.
When I was 14 the manager of a major rock band chatted me up on a flight to LA and offered to drive me from LAX to my LA hotel in his limo. Of course he molested me on the way.
While the majority of the victims of harassment, in this case, were grown men, there are instances where young boys harass young girls. At age 9, a group of teenage boys teaming up to harass you is terrifying. @Britpoptarts was riding her bike, and a group of boys teamed up with their bikes, surrounded her, and started scaring her. To forget such an ordeal may be very hard.
I was riding my bike, age 8-9, & older teen boys (at least high school age) thought it would be funny to circle around me on their bikes to scare me. I broke through the circle and sped home w/ them in pursuit. Stopped at total stranger’s house & asked to stand on her porch
These happenings do not only end immediately after one has experienced them. It leaves one with fear that affects their state of mind once their daughters attain this age. @exhaustedStacey experienced these harassments, and now that her daughter is 13, it is terrifying.
I have a 13 year old daughter. It terrifies me. These experiences we had we were all around the same age. I was 12 when It started. The attention from strangers and friends older brothers. I have these conversations now with my daughter and I hate it.
Another mother exercises extra caution with her daughter due to the fear of what could happen. @devasanggents said she has to walk her 12-year-old daughter to and from the bus stop.
This why my 12yr old stay with me walking her to the bus stop & her brother picking her up from it. If I can be there I see no point in not being that extra security for my child or any kid I see out here
These things affect men too. Sometimes, people treat them as if they will attack them even when they are not. A Twitter user with the handle @Ma1c0n7en7 told of his uncomfortable ordeal. He had just dropped his son at school and was walking back home through a particular alley. Passing through the alley, he watched a mum slowing down to let him go first.
I’m a big man. 6 foot tall 22 stone. As you can see I have a beard and masculine appearance. This morning I was walking home after dropping my son off at school and I saw a mum from the school literally slow down to let me pass before the alleyway. It doesn’t feel nice tbh.
Another instance of these acts affecting men is as narrated by @MrDayveed. A man, not less than 45 years of age, was following a certain young girl. The man probably had ill intentions; this Twitter user scared him away and took the girl home. He remembers the ordeal, and the feelings he felt on that day are still fresh.
I’m a dude and I did this for one of the little girls in my area back when I was in Nigeria. Till today I still shudder at the disgust and anger I elt, this man was no less than 45-50, she was a child. I literally knew her as a baby. I cursed him out that day & walked her home.
Adults are doing an excellent job of looking out for each other in public places, too, because sometimes a woman is experiencing harassment. A Twitter user with the handle @CentaureCyana was on a nearly empty train where a man was making another woman uncomfortable. Realizing what was happening, he walked up to the woman, pretending to know her and started a conversation. The woman noticed that this was a rescue call. This Twitter user walked her home.
Noticed a man making another woman uncomfortable on a nearly empty train late at night, pretended I just got on and went “Oh Carla, is that you? Haven’t seen you since uni, want to come to mine and catch up?” He was giving me looks but let up and we got out. I walked her home.
Though young girls are the most vulnerable in this case, women experience this a lot as well. @ms_kurbbz narrated an ordeal where a woman walked up to them and asked if she could stay with them because a man was following her. True to the lady’s words, the man came and hung around for some time and disappeared.
A few weeks ago I was visiting my friend at his job and a woman came and sat near me and another friend and asked if she could sit with her cuz a man had been following her he stood there for a good long while and disappeared, she left when we couldn’t find him I hope she’s okay
Everyone employs caution when walking around. A Twitter user with the handle @WeHearYou_xoxo wrote how she noticed a man following them. She and the friend were coming from the market, and the guy changed his pace to match theirs. When they changed sides of the road, the man did the same. They had to increase the speed to lose him.
Was returning home from the market with ky frined,noticed a man changing his pace according to ours. Changed side even though I felt something was wrong,just to confirm. He changed side instantly,does it again. We got so scared increased our pace,took turns and long paths
All these personal experiences make one realize that no place guarantees safety and that when in any space and a child comes to you for help, the best thing is to act first and then ask questions later. Also, one can save a child or a fellow adult from tense and dangerous situations.
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