Here’s What Happened When The Author Of “Everyday Sexism” Asked People About Their Experience Of Being Masturbated At In Public

Laura Bates’ Twitter timeline suggests it’s not as rare as you might think. This post contains distressing tweets.

1. Yesterday Laura Bates, the author of Everyday Sexism, retweeted one woman’s experience of being masturbated at.

She then began to receive more and more replies describing the same experience.

2. Within the space of two hours, she’d received over 400 anecdotes.

4. The replies came from all over the world.

6. And the incidents happened in all sorts of different public places.

.@EverydaySexism 18, in pub with friends. Strange man sat next to us, put his hand down his pants & started masturbating. No one helped.

— Winter Skill (@Winskillfull)

@EverydaySexism Man flashed me on a train at night. Reported to the police who arrested him but charges were dropped as my word against his.

— Rio (@riokaeleigh)

8. Laura tells BuzzFeed: “This is a perfect example of the kind of sexual offence that many women experience on a regular basis, yet many men would be shocked to hear about.”

@EverydaySexism 3 times. Two of the men on several occasions, police involved never caught either.

— Plain Jane (@janeagallagher)

@EverydaySexism during a concert right in the crowd. Not three weeks ago. Moved away as fast as I could.

— A Strange Case Of (@avodkaincident)

10. “It highlights how invisible the problem can be, because there is so little awareness and victims are often made to feel ashamed or afraid, which prevents them from feeling able to speak out.”

.@EverydaySexism happened to me at 14, I'll never forget. Thank goodness for a sweet bus driver who sheltered us and called police. #awful

— Stephanie M (@NotSteph)

@EverydaySexism @guardian My mum was in her 20s, walking home when a man did this on the street. When she told male friends they laughed.

— Rosie Tallant (@RosieTallant)

12. “The tweets we received highlighted that this happens to victims of all ages, all over the world.”

@EverydaySexism first night out in London, got lost, ended up sat at Oxford Circus on my own, guy stood 3m away staring and masturbating.

— Maccers (@ok_macdonald)

@EverydaySexism Busy city park daytime, man sat on next bench & wanked. I confronted, he bolted. Then I worried he'd take it out on another.

— Please, call me Dr. (@trenchologist)

14. “For many women it has happened on several different occasions.”

@EverydaySexism It has happened to me no less than three times, in three countries.

— Katherine Stanley (@Stealinghome)

Car next to me at a stoplight. Male driver caught my eye by waving; once he had my attention, he pulled it out of his pants. @EverydaySexism

— Theo Leigh (@1000DaysOfRain)

16. “Many don’t realise it is a criminal offence that can be reported.”

.@EverydaySexism Fell asleep in ER waiting room, awoke to man stroking my hand and forearm with one hand and the other hand down his pants.

— Alana Massey (@AlanaMassey)

@EverydaySexism At 12, mom took me for a haircut. Stylist rubbed erection along my arms the whole time. Didn't go again for 20 yrs.

— Bryn Smith (@BrynSmith5)

18. The responses continue to flow in to her timeline.

I'd say most of my female friends have experienced this. It happened to me for the first time on a public bus when I was 15. #EverydaySexism

— Kate O'Brien (@aplaceforkate)

@Polgaras @scattermoon @EverydaySexism last happened to me at a bus stop a year ago - rush hour, loads of ppl saw, no one stepped in

— CN Lester (@cnlester)

20. In the Guardian, Laura writes: “Looking at the Everyday Sexism Project database, I realised that in the past two years, 525 women and girls have reported this particular experience. “

@EverydaySexism - An old neighbour wouldn't stop, even after I put a sign in my window reading "please stop masturbat" (I ran out of room)

— Lisa DeBruine (@lisadebruine)

@EverydaySexism On a crowded bus last week, guy sat next to me openly started going for it. No one did a thing. I just bolted at next stop.

— Seija (@La_Raconteuse)

22. “Certain words jump out from the entries, repeated again and again: “frightened”… “horror” … “frozen” … “fear”.”

@EverydaySexism @guardian I was 21, waiting for a bus in the middle of university town Lund, Sweden. He was right behind the glass shelter.

— Mechtild (@tildor)

@EverydaySexism @becsplanb happened twice to me, once on a tube in London and once on skype with someone I met on internet.

— OldLadyPants (@oldladypants)

24. “If you think that being masturbated at is a rare experience, today’s torrent of tweets should change your mind.”

@EverydaySexism I was 13 a guy came sat next to me & a friend in a shopping centre with his hand down his pants. Happened again at 15 & 16.

— Jess Owen (@thatssojessica)

@EverydaySexism on Monday. In Sydney. Well dressed, groomed, 30s. Staring & wanking. Stroked my bag. Got off at same station. Terrified

— The Harlot Blogger (@Harlot_Blogger)

@EverydaySexism on a train from school when i was 12. only recently the police think they identified a suspect. still afraid to travel alone

— poppy (@poppiesarepunk)

@EverydaySexism I was sunbathing on lawn. Private backyard lawn. Neighbor saw lurking stranger masturbating and apprised me, after. Creepy.

— A Personal Opinion (@SableViews)

@EverydaySexism I looked up from reading my book on a beach to find a middle aged man masturbating in front of me. I was 14 years old.

— Delia Marjoribanks (@DeliaMarjoriban)

@EverydaySexism when I was walking to school a guy wasdoing it in his car, school didn't report /warn anyone about it , he went past twice

— SaRah Bowd (@_Saaaaaraaaah_)

@EverydaySexism A man in a trench coat on the opposite Tube platform from me at Gloucester Road station, 2012-ish.

— Karen James (@kejames)

@EverydaySexism I was on a subway platform and a guy was giving me the creeps. Told myself he was harmless until he started masturbating.

— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff)

BuzzFeed has contacted everyone whose tweets have been used in this post for their permission.

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Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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