Appalachian Ohio, Athens GA, Atlanta, Berkeley, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbia MO, Des Moines, Fredericksburgh VA, Jacksonville NC, Los Angeles, New York City, NYU, Philadelphia, Palo Alto, Portland ME, Richmond VA, Rutgers University, San Francisco
On Sunday, 30 September 2012, around 6pm, I was walking home through the sunny Parc de Bruxelles, filled with young people having picnics and families running around with children. I was wearing jeans and a sporty shirt. I passed a group of young people sitting on a bench. Three guys and a couple making out. Two of the guys started throwing the usual suggestive comments at me. I have recently had many discussions with my friends about this issue because I have felt it more and more in Brussels (I have lived here for more than a year). The one and single advice that came out of these discussions was that the safest thing in such situations is to just ignore them and walk away as quickly as you can. So that was exactly what I did. I intentionally did not react to their calls in the slightest way, didn’t even turn my head or frown. And then, after I was about two metres away, I felt something hit me, really hard, on the back. It was a chestnut. One of the guys had thrown it at my back full force. When I turned around shocked and furious they were laughing. And when I shouted at them that I would call the police, they started getting angry (they!) and annoyed that I was “disturbing them”. I ran home crying and locked the doors to my flat as hard as I could. I still have a bruise from that chestnut hitting me. But the psychological bruises are going to stay much longer. All I’m thinking now is: it started with words, it continues with throwing things, and one day is it going to be rape? Apparently for these men all is allowed, we are not human beings, just objects. As much as I love Brussels for all it has to offer, I do not want to stay here anymore.
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