New submission : Melanie’s story!

New neighbours moved in across the street from my place a couple of months ago. That, or the nice weather brought them & their friends out of hibernation.

Every Thursday, and other days of the week, they drink on the roof of Maxim Hair Design and yell at everyone. People driving by are harassed until they honk, and anyone who doesn’t play along is subject to verbal abuse.

Needless to say, they also spend a lot of time cat calling women (myself included) and hurling insults when they don’t get a positive response. Trying to ask them to stop nicely had no result.

It’s shitty enough to have to be subject to this while walking or driving by, but it’s worse to be able to overhear the awful, disgusting things they say when they think they’re out of earshot while I’m in the kitchen, slowly losing my appetite while trying to cook dinner.

Dudes, please do better!

I've got your back!

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OC Transpo safety measures : We did it, folks!

On May 15, 2013 we hosted an open forum where we asked women to share their concerns about safety on OC Transpo. What we heard is in line with what we know about gender-based violence more broadly: it’s happening; it’s humiliating; people don’t talk about it and when they do? Their experiences are often dismissed or minimized as “not a big deal.” But gender-based violence is a big deal.

You can read our full report about the open forum here.

We asked the community for solutions and they told us that an anonymous reporting mechanism would allow marginalized transit users to feel more comfortable alerting OC Transpo about the types of harassment and violence they are experiencing. They also wanted more awareness about harassment and better advertising of ways that people can let OC Transpo know.

And guess what? WE GOT THEM! 

The anonymous reporting mechanism will allow anyone, including a 3rd party, to report any incident to OC Transpo 100% anonymously.

The ads, although they aren’t nearly as strong as we’d like them to be, are a positive step in the right direction of naming harassment and violence on transit. Baby steps are happening!

Hollaback! Ottawa is an entirely volunteer-driven organization with no funding, staff or office space. That we were able to turn our community consultations into reality is a testament to the importance of true collaboration. Thank you to OC Transpo for attending our forum two years ago, creating the Safety Working Group and allowing us and fellow violence against women agencies to be heard.

But most of all, thank you to the community who has shared their stories with us and trusted us to represent them. We made a commitment to our community 2 years ago that we would amplify their voices and we are so happy to be here today to show off the fruits of that labour.

Thank you to our allies in the community for stepping up and supporting us. WISE: Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments has been there for us since day 1. When we approached OC Transpo in February of 2013 and were essentially shot down, WISE was there with us right away. Thank you.

Big ups to fellow community allies Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (SASC), Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC) and City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) for being such perpetual badasses. Sitting at the table with you folks for the past year or so has been an amazing experience and we look forward to continuing this work with y’all.

We believe in “community on a bus.” Taking the bus is, by definition, a shared experience. It is our hope that these new safety mechanisms will remind folks to look out for each other and to have each other’s backs.

As an organization that works with survivors of gender-based harassment, we know that simply telling people to report is not enough. People need to trust that the system will listen, that OC Transpo will follow through and that their concerns will be taken seriously.

If you’ve been harassed, we want you to let OC Transpo know. But we also want you to know that: we believe you.

The work to make public transit safer does not end today. We are committed to holding OC Transpo accountable and working collaboratively with our allies at the Safety Working Group.

But for now? We celebrate!


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New submission: Su’s story!

Every morning for the past 2 weeks, the same guy has been honking at me as he drives by while I wait for my bus to work. He either honks for really long or a bunch of short bursts; regardless it’s always enough to startle me and get my attention. This morning I was able to get his license plate number: BXDD 614. It’s a very minor incident but it has gotten to a point where I know that I will have to be irritated by his honks every morning unless I choose to change my morning schedule, which I shouldn’t have to do.

I've got your back!

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New submission : Jackie’s story!

It was around 5pm in the less than a block it takes me to get from work to my bicycle. A man sitting on a bench called out to me “Hey schoolgirl”. I was walking with a friend and had a backpack. He then mumbled something loudly about Jesus. “…I see her every other day but I don’t know her name. That’s the girl I’m going to rape”. I never so much as made eye contact with him. I could still hear him mumbling at/about me from his bench as I unlocked my bike. It seemed like he might have been either not sober or had a mental illness. I sympathize with people suffering from mental health issues but I also deserve to feel safe in public. I get harassed very often on Bank Street but this stood out as an explicit threat.

I've got your back!

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Harassment at Ottawa Comiccon 2015

The following story was e-mailed to us by someone who was harassed at this year’s Comiccon.

“This individual was kicked out of the Con on Saturday evening for sticking a vibrating machine against a female’s ass. He apparently had assaulted a few females that day.”





I've got your back!

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Comiccon 2015 : Success!

We hosted another workshop, engaging folks in conversations about how to make Cons and all Geek spaces safe(r) for everyone. We had a blast cosplaying as Rosie the Riveter, walking around the Con and talking to countless attendees. It was awesome!


You can see the full photo set on our Facebook page.

Thank you to everyone who came out to help us spread the word. We always have such a great time at Cons and we really feel the love.

Let’s keep it up!

In solidarity,

– The Hollaback! Ottawa Crew

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New submission: Susan’s story!

This asshole in a red truck stalked me on my way home late last night. He zig-zagged through these side streets, always popping out again from the street perpendicular to me, perfectly timed. He kept disappearing and reappearing, keeping me on edge, anxiously waiting to see where he’d turn up in front of me. All the way down Somerset and all the way down Preston. He leered at me as he turned each corner, even as I gave him a “wtf?!” gesture. Thankfully, he didn’t see me when I turned (ran!) down my street to my house (I checked behind me the whole time). I’ve never felt unsafe/scared in my own neighbourhood/home until now. He never stopped the car, rolled down the windows, or yelled anything, which made it more unsettling. It was this deliberate, strategic, silent aggression.

It infuriates me how easily someone can take away someone else’s power, their sense of safety – like it’s just a game. It makes me livid that this sort of street aggression/harassment happens to others all the time. It pisses me off that one of the thoughts that went through my head was “oh crap, maybe I shouldn’t have walked home alone at night”, alongside another thought: “I wish I had a baseball bat to smash his shitty truck in”.

I've got your back!

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