New submission : Katie’s story!

I was in the park this afternoon, trying to enjoy my summer before school starts up once again. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a man, maybe in his thirties, sitting on the bench and playing with his phone. I couldn’t help but notice the way he was holding it, it was a little unnatural.

I then sat up to take off my shoes, because the sun was getting hot at this point and who doesn’t like to feel the cool grass on your feet on a summer day? When I did I noticed the man reach into his bag and quickly tried to put something out of view and under the very same shoulder bag.

It was very awkward because he would go back to his phone and then adjust his bag oddly on and off for the longest while. I was getting a odd vibe, not sure why. When the sun had emerged from a cloud I seen the glare of a camera lens under his bag pointing directly at me.

The man was recording me, maybe using his phone app to try and not be too noticeable. I felt disgusted at how he had been recording me and probably zoomed into and past my personal space. I never felt so sick because of a human, I quickly left and after I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about what he was going to do with the footage. I even am scared to wear short shorts now. I feel so violated.

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New submission from a bystander: Jason

3am on a Friday night: I’m walking down the sidewalk to a 24 hour gym and a woman yells at me to slow down. I glanced in her direction and see a couple figures outside a bar, she’s half running towards me but I pay her no mind thinking it’s just drunk people. She continues yelling at me, singling me out by what I’m wearing. There’s a couple guys across the street outside another bar and they don’t seem concerned. She begins cursing at me to stop while I’m walking away. Her insistence intensified but there was alarm in her voice so this time I stopped and she caught up with me.

She’s mid to late 20’s tells me to keep walking and quickly explained that there was a guy following her home and she just wanted to be taken to the front door of her building. She was so matter of fact about it but clearly relieved. I walked her to her building and she politely thanked me and we exchanged first names.

It happened very fast and there wasn’t much time for Q & A I just wanted to say I was very proud of this girl for how she handled herself (I forgive the swearing and insults) and really all I did was just not make the situation worse she didn’t ask anything of me other than a short escort home. I’m glad I was there, though.

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New submission : Bee’s story!

I live near Dundonald Park, and while it has been better lately (sadly, it may have to do with Pokemon Go bringing more people there late at night) I had another bad incident recently.

Last night I was walking home down Somerset at around midnight when two guys started following me and yelling at me to slow down and talk to them. I ignored them for a block and then I turned around and yelled at them to go away, that I was not interested and to stop talking to me. Their harassment turned to insults (c-word, b-word) and they started walking towards me faster.

I was scared for a second but there was a group of people on the corner playing Pokemon that I walked through and the guys turned around when they saw that. It didn’t stop me from checking behind me and taking a longer way home just in case they were still following me from afar.

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We all deserve to feel safe in public spaces

As an organization dedicated to ending street harassment and making public spaces safe and accessible, Hollaback! Ottawa would like to offer our public support to everyone affected by the arrest and death of Abdirahman Abdi. It was a horrific and avoidable situation.


It is very clear that police interactions with people struggling with mental health issues requires immediate re-addressing and rectification. It is evident that anti-black racism exists within Ottawa Police Services and needs immediate acknowledgement from its top ranks. What is also clear to us is that when police assistance is required to deal with instances of sexual harassment and/or assault, the victims should not be blamed for attempting to ensure their protection and wellbeing.


Women reported being harassed and assaulted by Mr. Abdi. We believe them. It was also reported that Abdirahman Abdi’s family had made a concerted effort to put de-escalation and community-based measures in place to ensure both his mobility in the community and the safety of others. We think measures such as this are incredible and vital to creating safer and more empathetic communities.


In the absence of such measures, the onus is on individual women to decide whether to prioritize their own safety or the safety of their community. We reject an either/or solution.


It’s completely unacceptable that women are expected to sacrifice themselves to abuse, over and over, for the good of their community. We don’t want to tell women they aren’t allowed to ask for help if they’re afraid. We don’t want to tell bystanders they can’t ask for backup if they’re overwhelmed. Calling the police was an act of desperation in an escalating situation, not meant to be a death sentence.


We all deserve to feel safe in public spaces.


The police’s failure to handle this call with the care it deserved does not rest upon the Bridgehead employees’ shoulders, individual women who were targeted, Abdirahman Abdi or his family.  We should not be afraid to call the police, yet due to their storied history of revictimization, racism, ableism, misogyny and escalation of violence of those most in need, we all too commonly are.


We condemn the Ottawa Police’s treatment of Abdirahman Abdi and extend our deepest sympathies to his family for their loss. We are here for you. We also support the women who were harassed and assaulted by Abdirahman Abdi and extend our support to them. We are here for you.


We can, and should, hold both these thoughts at once. Doing so is the only way we’ll create a safer community together.


In solidarity and resistance,

  • The Hollaback! Ottawa Crew


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New submission : Sarah’s story!

I was leaving the gym, which is right across from my apartment. I only have to cross an intersection, so I usually just carry my keys and wear my gym shorts. On my way out of the gym today, I’d already crossed the street and was in front of my apartment when I heard someone say “Hi” from behind me. I turned around and said hi, to be polite. There was a very tall man in his mid twenties. He said his name (which I now forget) and asked me what I was doing. I said I was going home, and tried not to make it obvious I lived in the building beside me. He asked if I would play rock paper scissors with him “you win, I get a high five, I win, I get to kiss you”

I felt pretty vulnerable in my gym shorts, and hate that he saw me go into my apartment, and now knows where I live.

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New submission from anonymous

Was walking home on the Trans Canada Trail towards Lincoln Fields Station when a man on bench tried to engage me in conversation. When I didn’t respond he started swearing and calling me a bitch. There was another man and a woman with him and they did nothing in response.

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New submission : Shvaugn’s story!

I was walking to the grocery store when a man on a bicycle screamed ‘Nice tits’ to me as he went by.

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New submission: T-Kat’s story

Outside of Casa Nicastro at Preston and the Queensway is a grotesque and consistent street harassment setup. The men will sit in lawn chairs (that they brought?? that they keep inside the deli? I’m, assuming the owners are chill with this whole production) on opposite sides of the sidewalk and dramatically leer at women as they walk past. They don’t even try to hide it, it’s like a big game to them. You could stand on the other side of the street and film them doing it and they wouldn’t notice or care. We gave them the finger as they stared and one of them said “fuck you!” Some men do it from their front stoop. Some men do it randomly in public. But some men let their buddies do it in front of their place of business and someone that’s even worse.

We walked past around 10pm on a Monday night, so I can only imagine the hot weekends.


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