Two years ago, some friends and I witnessed a woman get punched in the face by a man just off Bourbon Street in New Orleans. While we immediate went to her aid, the man simply stepped over her like she was trash and merged with the crowd while his friend filmed the entire scene.

What provoked the attack? She refused to give him her phone number and he snapped.

Back in college, my roommate, her cousin, and I road tripped to the Bay Area during Spring Break. On our way to a tiny nightclub in Oakland, my roommate’s cousin gave us one piece of advice: “If a man asks you to dance, just do it. They punch girls up here.”

I was reminded of these stories yesterday when I read about a 19-year-old woman in the UK who is trying to piece her life back together after being bashed in the head with a champagne bottle when she turned down a man’s advances at a nightclub. Although she escaped with her life (thankfully), doctors had to insert a plate into her jaw and she no longer goes out because she doesn’t feel safe.

These incidents are not unique; they happen way too often. And although it would be nice to believe that a spurned man would deal with rejection like a grown up or have sensible friends who could convince him to just move on to the next woman, this isn’t always the case.

Women have lost lives and/or been seriously injured at the hands of men they did not know simply because they were not interested in a conversation.

Which begs the question, what can we do?

If we cannot rely on the man’s own common sense, or his friends, or bystanders to step up, how can we women best protect ourselves from being assaulted by some idiot with a fragile ego?

I’m asking for real, Clutchettes.

Tell us how you deal with harassment; you may just save a woman’s life.  

  • Beautiful Mic

    Develop discernment and wisdom about people so that you don’t end up in the wrong surroundings. Also, develop sharp people (manipulative) skills so if the situation calls for it you can play mind games with people, divert their attention, to spare you harm.

  • callmenicole

    That is crazy! How does someone protect themselves from an unprovoked, unanticipated assault!? I’ve never heard of this happening. Seems like people are becoming more unstable with each passing day.

    The only logical thing I can think of would be to call the police and press charges if they find the guy; travel in groups of friends and stick together. If anything, there will definitely be witnesses and you will have immediate aid or help.

  • Knowledge

    According to some women on the other article here on clutch the best way for a women to protect herself from aggressive come ons, is to refrain from going to areas where black males are *sarcasm*

  • donnadara

    It’s like rape, at some point it’s out of your control. I find lying about having a jealous boyfriend is useful because men respect other men’s territory.

  • callmenicole

    sadly not all of them. i told a guy that one time (and i actually did have a boyfriend), and his response was “what does that have to do with me?”

  • JS

    Super ridiculous to me. I have never heard of a girl getting punched for simply turning down a dude.

    This is another reason why I am glad I take martial arts. Although in a scrappy fight traditional MA may fail you a bit other than fast reflexes, I encourage all women to take Krav Maga or some form of grappling. Even if guy has a good 100 pounds on you the trick is flow and using their force to your advantage. In Krav you learn how to disarm and disable, eye-gouge, etc. I hate to tell women they need to be so active in their safety as to take these classes, like its their own faults they are being victimized. However, I would rather see them knowing how to defend themselves should the situation arise.

    Other things are travel in groups with both guys and girls. I know its a drag to have a girls night with guys along however if you are in a new or known to be hostile area then having guys along helps. Not that there aren’t some other men with the gall to approach you anyway but hostile situations greatly decrease when other guys are on the scene as well. In fact I have noticed a decline of creepers approaching using this method.

    Like others have said after a certain extent though its out of your hands. There is nothing you can do to control another’s actions and its a temperamental and dangerous guessing game to try to buff and guess which method (silence, annoyance, anger, politeness) will make them go away and what will make it worse.

  • donnadara

    Actually women have been murdered for turning men down. Particularly if they are perceived to be lesbians. Sakia Gunn, Mildred Beaubrun, Adilah Gaither.

  • JS

    Exactly. Other common responses are:

    “He doesn’t have to know.”

    “Where is he right now?”

    “Why not be with a real man?”

    “But does he treat you right?”

    and my personal all time favorite because it shows his lack of f*cks given even after he realizes you aren’t interested… “You’re lying, you don’t really have a boyfriend.”

  • JS

    So they should be docile and go along with the man’s wishes instead no matter what? I’m sorry but that is complete BS. As my mother used to say to me as a child “never open the door for a stranger, even if they threaten to shoot the door down because if they are willing to shoot to get in, they are definitely going to shoot you, or worse, once they are inside.”

    Women get killed for doing absolutely nothing but minding their own business as well. There is no way to guarantee what someone will or wont do. Don’t turn them down and accept advances? Women have gotten murdered. Turned them down? Women have also gotten murdered.

    At least by putting up a fight you give yourself better odds of escaping with your life. I’m sorry but to this day if someone wants me to get in a strange car with them they will have to drag my lifeless body into it because gun or no gun I am not getting in no one’s car or being anyone’s docile victim but to each their own.

  • Sunny

    You can certainly do that. I believe most women who have to walk the streets in the city do just that. HOWEVER, you can’t behave yourself away from a crazy demented man-child. He has already decided that he wants to own you or hurt you. Your behavior, your preparation, your diversion techniques have no control over his behavior.

  • MissCrys

    “how can we women best protect ourselves from being assaulted by some idiot with a fragile ego?” It’s sad thinking about raising a girl child in a world where questions like this have to be asked and answered, but I get it, I live it.

    For a long time I was the jeans & t-shirt girl, until I wasn’t. Until I was again because the attention other style choices received was too uncomfortable and frankly scary. No one has ever hurt me, thank God, but being grabbed and followed home a time or two is scary enough. Lord help us all!!

  • You Did It To Yourselves

    Feeling out

  • Kaeli

    Unfortunately this is in fact true. We can pretend it isn’t but it is. More specifically areas where men gather in groups on the street.

  • catpopstar

    I usually have my keys ready in case I have to jam it in their throat. And I’m not above hitting someone in the sac(I will Johnny Cage their ass). It’s either them or me and if they insist on acting like wild animals, they will be treated as such.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    train yourself, arm yourself, protect yourself……

  • LemonNLime

    I don’t know about you but I find mace and a box cutter do wonders when words fail. I’ve never had to use them but I have had to pull them out and let a negro know that I was not playing. He called me a crazy bitch and went on his way.

    Long ago I made peace with the fact that I have no problem killing a man in order to survive. I encourage you all to do the same, no joke.

  • roslynholcomb

    Two words: Concealed Carry. Arm yourself. Go to the gun range and learn how to use and maintain a firearm. If you are confronted you must be prepared to kill. If you live in a state where concealed carry is not possible. I strongly recommend an ax handle. They are small enough to be carried in a large handbag and make a good deterrent. I’ve found that forcefully applying it to the bridge of the nose of an assailant is enough to bring him to his knees and give me a chance to get away and call 911.

  • Kaeli

    Wait?!?! Have you actually had to do pull a gun on someone? If so, please tell your story.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    axe handle? way too big.
    i carry a police baton in my back jeans pocket.

  • bob

    We can start teaching dudes that a woman have the right to reject you. Their are about 3 billion on this earth if one doesnt like you , move on to the next one.

  • roslynholcomb

    An ax handle is only a foot long. Not too large considering the size handbag women carry. Plus, I’ve found that nobody bothers you when you walk down the street woth an ac handle (or one ofthose souvenir badeball bats) in your hand.

  • roslynholcomb

    Not with a handgun. I had to beat the hell out of a guy with my ax handle. I also used to keep a shotgun (which IMO is the best women for women, unfortunately sawed off shotguns are illegal in most states) in my car and i had to draw down on a crazy mofo who followed me to my car. Nothing like the sound of a shotgun being chucked to bring the craziest mofo to his senses. I know most people are opposed to violence, so am I. But I’m also opposed to dying, or being so brutalized I wish I was dead. I have no interest in begging these guys to stop their fuckery. They’re sexual predators getting off on your fear. You have to meet crazy with crazy.

  • vintage3000

    How ’bout we just stay home and wear burqas at all times instead? That way we avoid having to apply your logic, and we won’t have to psychoanalyze every random psycho who is hell bent on violating the personal space of every woman he sees?

  • vintage3000

    “going to areas where black males are”

    “areas”…you mean like articles directed to Black women regarding our personal safety, where there are black males like you loitering?

  • NY’s Finest

    It’s definitely true, I’ve been avoiding groups of black men in the street for years. It’s the only thing that seems to work.

  • Ads

    Pretend your on your way to meet your brother, a “cop”

  • tedmikedmike

    From my observation the lead cause of such outcome is women leading men on and trying to manipulate them, so, stop doing that if you don’t have any interest in the guy. You never know who you are dealing with and how they may act.

    Here is how you can avoid it, Be firm and polite on your rejection and don’t accept any thing from a man you don’t want to talk too. If he comes on beyond that inform him you will contact the police, meanwhile ask anther guy who is around to help you.

  • Ads

    In hs, i took subway thru the bx to my school in manhattan – and was regularly felt up under skirt, saw dudes masturbating while glaring at me, and out of fear/shock i would just freeze. In college, 3 times i had a dude glaring at me while masturbating on the beach, and i yelled for help to get them run off beach. Last year, i was jogging in the park and a dude wedged me between a lake and the path and flashed me. I bent down picked up a huge branch and faced him head on.
    The bitch turned and i ran like hell. It felt good to finally stand up

  • MommieDearest

    “Plus, I’ve found that nobody bothers you when you walk down the street woth an ac handle (or one ofthose souvenir badeball bats) in your hand.”

    Some mornings I go for a power walk in my neighborhood. I always carry an exposed weapon, usually my son’s baseball bat or a billy club. (I have a wooden one with a metal weight on one end that my grandmother gave me years ago.) One morning while I was walking a man slowed down in his car and asked me why I was carrying the club. I told him it’s to protect myself against stray dogs, both the 4-legged AND 2-legged kind. He laughed and I laughed, but I kept my gaze into his eyes steady to let him know I was serious. He averted his gaze and drove on.

  • paintgurl40

    “you have to meet crazy with crazier”…AGREED

  • bossladi

    It’s an unfortunate situation that happens regularly. I have had many uncomfortable encounters with such men. I’ve never been hurt physically, but I’ve definitely been called out my name and whatnot. I find that being friendly but firm is the trick. No one likes to be rejected, particularly when they are in public around their equally weak ass friends. In other words, smile and say “I can’t give you my number. But thanks! Have a nice day!” When all else fails learn to walk fast and simply not respond to cat calls, etc. Act like your deaf… literally… and keep it moving! Sadly, if you are countered and this tactic doesn’t work, you may have to lie by making up some fake number or take the fool’s number instead ( and throw that mess away when he’s not looking). It’s about protecting yourself…. do what you gotta do (within reason)!

  • Lisss

    Did you not read the article or are you one of those “lets blame women for everything” type of man (i have to assume you are a man cause a woman would never give a stupid answer like this)?

    There is no maniplation on our part and the male friends around are not interested in helping. If anything they are more interested in backing their “boy” and filmimg the incident.

    Now i am sure that when a woman ends ups shooting dow a predator, you’ll be the first to call us aggressive and crazy, right?


  • Zombie Killer

    I advise against the message of smiling. Women are always being told to smile when dealing with men and it just sends the wrong message.

  • SayWhat

    The statistics don’t lie. Black women are more likely to be abused then women of other races, so yes, we should avoid areas that are heavily populated by black men at all costs. Until people like yourself are as concerned with our safety as you seem to be with the fragile ego of the black male, then I will continue to share the go to mixed social setting advice with anyone willing to head it. As always, we are protecting ourselves by ourselves.

  • binks

    I know this has had some controversy especially after the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial but in cases of extreme street harassment I think stand your ground applies here because if you are being physically threaten and in fear of your life because some jackass can’t get the concept that you aren’t interested and is so bold to psychically harm you like the lady in the incident above then you have every right to lay his ass out…point blank…even if it might result in death. Nobody should have to jump through hoops, hope they don’t get attacked or living in fear to bypass places because some people can’t handle simple rejection and don’t understand the concept of moving on. And as Bob mention earlier in the comments it is time for society as a whole to teach, socialize and reinforce the concept that women have the right to say NO (and mean it) and have the right to reject you if you aren’t her speed. Because if I am saying no to you harassing me isn’t going to change my mind. Personally, I carry mace and a switchblade (and if I can’t bring my switchblade my grandma says get a letter opener….lol)

  • Nic

    Seriously, as someone who has never lived in a majority black neighborhood, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes in a black neighborhood (or at least one where the black men feel kind of empowered and tend to congregate on the streets) before you hear something. I guess I’m not naturally skittish but it is really weird that people will make vulgar comments about your body or even kind of jump into your path and get into your face.
    I mean, I was so unaccustomed to it that the first time I heard it, I didn’t realize it was even directed at me (and now knowing how hostile the men get, I’m pretty lucky I didn’t get clocked for being uppity).
    But this is one of those topics that I file under the blackpowerisforblack men tag, b/c we aren’t going to be protected by the authorities and we aren’t going to be assisted by black men when their brethren engage in this behavior. (Mainly b/c I guess you are supposed to be thrilled that you aren’t too “ugly” to be sexually harassed on the street while you mind your business).
    So yeah, while non-black neighborhoods are far from crime-free, this kind of verbal harassment is not the norm.
    It only takes one corner where they feel comfortable for it to become a problem.

  • Nic

    Well, you see how abusive they get on the internet…it’s no different from the kind of abuse they lob when you are on the street except at least here, they can’t lay hands on you, b/c let’s face it, some of the men who drop in are totally the kind who would punch a woman in the face.

  • Nic

    One of my friends tried wearing a fake wedding ring and it didn’t help. All she got was basically “well what does your man have to do with me” line.

  • Teflon Jawn (@Author_JGail)

    First off let me say that the situations described in the article are reprehensible and no one can really say what could be done better in those cases. I am so sorry those women had to go through that.

    I have found myself in a number of situations with guys on the street. One time I had to walk in club gear… in 4 inch heels… through a lonnnng block uptown … at high noon to get back to my car. What I did was this: I realized ahead of time that I would more than likely get some cat calls, so I was proactive. As soon as they started with the stares and comments I greeted them (no gratuitous smiles necessary) “hey brotha, how ya doing, enjoy your day.” They were all respectful and just said “hey sista” from one end of the block to the next. I’m not saying this would work with every type of guy, but sometimes being the proactive one helps. Just offering a possible approach. End of the day, I did not feel like I was made to do anything but be my positive self.

    No one can make you feel inferior (or oppressed) without your consent! <3

  • kkait

    Ummmm I know not the whole point of the article but why the f*** would your cousin take you to a club where your only option is dance with an aggressive stranger or get beat?!!! NOT my idea of a fun night. A lot of things are out of womens control but knowinly going to a club that is dangerous just seems like a stupid idea if you ask me.

  • vintage3000

    “No one can make you feel inferior (or oppressed) without your consent!”

    So if a woman does not feel like cheesing, (or being proactive as you call it) when dealing with random dudes on the street, if she is cursed out or threatened and feels violated afterwards it’s because she gave her consent to feel inferior?

    Several weeks after my mother passed, when I was able to drag myself into work and i was walking around depressed I was hit on by two guys out in the street during my lunch hour. They were not rude, in fact they were friendly. I still did not feel it my responsibility to smile, bat my eyelashes nor “good morning brothas!!!” my way past them to make them feel secure, especially when I was still reeling from the biggest loss of my life.

    So with your logic, if a car full of White rednecks slow down when they see you, get out of the car and call you out of your name and you feel awful later does that mean you gave your consent to feel oppressed?

    Women like you are just as bad as these men, and are one of the reasons they feel entitled to the personal space of every random women they see.

  • Teflon Jawn (@Author_JGail)

    Sorry you feel that way, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion on this topic. As for me, I know who I am, I know who God made me and that’s the only thing that matters IMO.

    All that aside, I am really sorry about your loss sis. <3

  • Kacey

    This^^^^^ (100 times)!!!!

    I give zero f*cks (ZERO!!!!!) if any man is offended by my need to protect myself from harm. Because if I’m attacked, no-one on the street will come to my aid (not even the police).

  • JS

    Love that flasher story. I feel like they are more common in the Northeast, over here in the Northwest we never hear of them. Although do flashers also assault women? Other than their eyesight I mean haha. I thought flashers got some voyeuristic thrill from it and that was it, definitely could be wrong though.

  • Peachy

    It is proven fact that men are afraid of “crazy” women. If all else fails, act crazy! I’m serious, it works. At the train station last year, some dude call out to me when I walked by him. While waiting for my stop, I kept eying him from my side and saw him walking up towards me. He came up to me and said he wanted to “talk to me”. I kept scooting over and he kept getting closer and started following me. I let out a big shriek (I seriously yelled) and started running around in the station saying “Leave me alone!” The guy took off and some people around me were yelling out to him. This is a bit extreme, but I’m sure the embarrassment would have him thinking twice next time he approaches a women. Embarrass the man and make him look bad. Shout out and say something bizarre such as, “Don’t rob me! or scream in fear so that onlookers will be alerted to your harassment. Even if he is just asking for your number, divert the attention around and make it seem like he is trying to harm you. Shout out, “I’m going to call the police!”. Men now don’t take no for an answer and don’t know when to leave us alone. Mess with me and I will embarrass you. I have tried everything that I am mentioning and it has all worked so far. It may sound a bit crazy, but that is the whole objective lol.

  • laillabella

    The fact that this whole discussion exists is crazy. We all have our own tactics that work the majority of the time, but what about the times that they don’t work? I have to come out of my character and resort to violence in order to get from point A to point B? That’s a terrible and sad reality, though. The biggest problem is that these types of men exist and are allowed to exist with little, if any retribution at all. We need to change the way that we raise our boys. Teach them that they our suppose to be our brothers, not our predators. Because they’re not getting any better. Just rape-at-will worse

  • Anthony

    @kkait, your post reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend in grad school. He was telling me about a club so rough, he might need a gun to go there. I told him, if you need a gun, you don’t need to go.

    If a club has a reputation for tolerating violent men, women need to boycott it ASAP! Believe me, if men know there will be no women, they will quickly get rid of the trouble makers.

  • Ads

    The flasher was costa rica – supposedly the safest place in central america.
    The 3 beach masturbators (actually 2 one was repeat guy!!) were all on my fav stretch of ipanema in rio. 40% of women on EARTH will be subjected to sexual violence or dv in their lifetime – this is worldwide, unfortunately.

  • IAMSHE (@SeekSpeakLove)

    Typically unemployed, hobby-less men who have the time to devote to staring at hind parts and besieging the unsuspecting women who are trying to go from here to there unmolested.

    If a man has the time to sit and cat call then he most certainly won’t EVER get my acknowledgement. That we are even discussing this makes me angry. How on earth did we lose respect for each other? What is the root of this harassment?

  • Jenny

    I am an Aussie and it’s frightening reading this stuff. I got badly harassed at a workplace years ago – male dominated.

    Even the sexual comments were all about dominance – he found out I was a feminist and set out on a campaign to completely demoralise me everyday.

    Basically it was fine for him to (clearly) be hostile to women but “not allowed” that I could have any thoughts of discrimination towards males. It was all about dominance.

    Most sexual harassment is about punishing assertive dominant women – especially where men out number women. ‘Uppity’ women get targeted.

    SuPposedly married women are less likely to get targeted -perhaps because they are seen as being another man’S property.

    So, if asked out by a man you do not like, perhaps feign having a boyfriend – maybe make up that he is a bouncer (if asked why he isn’t with you).

    This is really pathetic, though. This incredibly hostile treatment. But to outwit a monkey man (which is what this dominance behaviour is about) it is helpful to undertsand the thinking – if you could call it that.

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