Inspired by author Elizabeth May's bold tweet, we asked women of the BuzzFeed Community to share the terrifying things that've happened when they turned down or ignored a man's advances. Here are 21 of the 150-plus stories from people who bravely shared their own scary experiences:
Trigger warning: This post contains mentions of sexual harassment, assault, and violence.
"I was walking home when a truck pulled up beside me. The guy kept cat calling me but I ignored him...until he yelled 'What are you, stupid or something?' That's when I told him to piss off. He left when the light turned green, but then reappeared a few blocks later, screaming that he was going to shoot me in the head before driving away. I was 10 blocks away from home, so took a detour by a bar where I used to work, just in case. Luckily he didn't come back."
"When I was in high school, I turned a guy down and he threatened to strangle my dog with barbed wire and leave her body on my porch."
"When I was 13 and at my grandmother's house, her next door neighbor—my older brother's friend—asked me to hang out. I said no, but he ended up chasing me into my house and pinning me to the wall, forcing my arms above my head. He stared at me for what felt like forever before eventually letting go and leaving. No one believed me."
"I was walking into Walmart one night. My face was glued to my phone and I didn't hear this guy trying to talk to me. He proceeded to call me a bitch and tell me he was gonna wait outside for me and rape me. Like why is that even necessary to say? How do you feel that's an appropriate response?"
"I was stalked in my early 20s by a guy who would often come to my job and flirt with me. I declined dating him because he was 15 years older than me and I wasn’t interested. He proceeded to follow me at my two other jobs, making insulting/degrading comments about my body in front of my coworkers under the guise of 'joking'. He somehow got my number and texted me saying I was a cunt and a bitch and telling me he knew where I lived. I have no idea if he was bluffing."
A guy I used to take the same bus with tried to hit on me a couple of times. We had the same exit stop but always left in separate directions. When I finally told him no, he began silently walking behind me from the bus stop and following me home. He did this more than once. He was in his twenties and, even though at the time I might have looked older, I was 12.
"A guy who I was texting with got mad that I wasn’t responding fast enough (while I was at work), so he sent me a picture from outside of my apartment building."
"I was bar hopping and bumped into this guy who was a friend of a friend. He followed me to at least three bars and we ended up making out consensually. He asked if I wanted to have sex in his van in the parking lot, and I said no. He seemed pacified and bought us more shots. He asked again and I still said no, that I was too tired and wanted to call it a night. He got angry, claiming I'd been leading him on all night and saying, 'You know what? We’re doing this.'
He proceeded to physically remove me from the club and drag me toward his van. Luckily, my mom was just finishing having dinner at a restaurant in the same shopping complex, saw a strange guy dragging me by the arm and shouted, 'What are you doing with my daughter!?' He freaked out and drove off after my mom gave him the scolding of his lifetime. Thanks, Mom."
"My ex-boyfriend threatened to send dirty pictures of me to my family after I said I didn't want to have sex with him."
"After our serving shifts, my sister and I would get food at a local 24-hour cafe attached to a cheap hotel. It was sketchy, but we were young, hungry, and naive. One night, a group of guys loitering in the parking lot asked us to hang out. We said no thanks and kept walking, ignoring their requests to party in their hotel room. They got angry and started following us and cussing us out for being rude.
They surrounded us at our car and tried to stop us from getting in by grabbing us and holding the doors. We managed to break free and lock the doors. If we had parked further away or not been together, this story would have a much worse ending. Every time I think of it, I immediately think of what I should have done differently; how I could have prevented the situation. That's bullshit. I was an 18-year-old girl being verbally and physically harassed by six or seven middle aged men, and that's not my damn fault."
"When I was 17-years-old, an ex used to threaten to harm himself when I would turn down his sexual advances. Those threats led me to stay with him much longer than I wanted to. After I finally broke up with him and turned down multiple requests of his to get back together, he texted me a picture of him lighting a photo of me on fire and called me a 'cold-hearted bitch' for refusing to get back together. Later, when he found out I was dating another guy he texted me that he was going to find the new guy and 'put him in the hospital.'"
"After I politely turned down a classmate in college, he made the class we shared hell for me. He physically confronted me along with two of his friends, all three of whom were twice my size, and threatened to hit me. He began showing up at events that I attended with friends outside of school, and once even followed me out of the classroom all the way to the parking lot. Eventually I began skipping that class a lot to avoid him. To make matters worse, very few of my male friends understood how his behavior was problematic or terrifying. My mom even said that I should have just given him a chance."
"I was at a club on my birthday and this guy approached me to dance, which I did for a minute or so then stopped and walked away. He later came back over while I was sitting on a stage, stood in between my legs and forcefully started kissing me. I yelled at him to get off and tried pushing him away. He said stuff like 'Aww come on, baby' and 'Whats wrong?' while still trying to touch me. Seriously DISTURBING! At that point I was screaming and cussing and shoving him off. He eventually gave up and walked off."
"It was 9PM and I'd just left a party, so was wearing a dress and heels. I was walking up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan when this man in a suit approached me, saying I was the most gorgeous girl he’d ever seen. I thanked him and kept walking. He said, 'I’m serious. I stopped my car for you,' and motioned to a car parked along the avenue. He asked me out and, feeling a little uncomfortable, I told him I had a boyfriend.
He instantly became angry and screamed 'No you don’t, you’re racist!' He kept yelling and backed me against a nearby wall. I debated running away in my heels, but he decided he'd had enough and went back to his car. FYI NY-based women: the Safe Trek app is great for moments like these. I've used it ever since."
"I was on a date with a former co-worker and got the sense he thought we were something serious when I did not. I told him I'd just gotten out of a really bad relationship and wasn't ready for another one, but was cool with us dating casually if he was. Well he started freaking the fuck out! He got out the car and started screaming, calling me a liar, crying, laughing, throwing rocks, and kicking plants.
I would have driven off, but it was his car and he had the keys. I considered making a run for it but I didn't want him to chase me down and make matters worse. He eventually got back in the car and, still screaming, drove me home. The next day he acted like it never happened."
"I once told this guy who liked me that I just wanted to be friends with him, but apparently that wasn’t enough for him. He threatened to use his illegal gun not only on himself and me, but anybody else in my life who got in the way of his love for me. I couldn’t go to certain places without him showing up, so I never went out alone. Even his friends who insisted that I 'give him a chance' wouldn’t leave me alone with him. He finally stopped after I said I'd get a restraining order, but he still sends me threats via new social media accounts from time to time. I block every last one."
"During my freshman year of high school, I danced with a cute junior at homecoming. The next time I saw him, he gave me his number and asked me out. I told him that I couldn't because even though we had fun, I had found out he had a girlfriend, plus I wasn't allowed to date until I turned 16. That's when he became an obsessive stalker, doing things like dumping his girlfriend for me, breaking into my locker to write his number in permanent marker so I 'wouldn't lose it,' and locating and driving past my house.
I told my parents and the principal, but there wasn’t much they could do because I knew so little about him (we didn’t share any of the same classes). He eventually lost interest, but I still worried about seeing him in the halls or even checking the house mail for fear he’d be waiting for me."
"I was 23-years-old at my sister's bachelorette party. A large group of us were dancing in a bar when a visibly drunk man came up and put his arms around me and my sister, grabbing and pulling us. I brushed his arm off, which made him back off and retreat to the bar. Later, I felt a hand slide up my back and grab my neck. I spun around, saw him, and pushed him as hard as I could, telling him not to touch me or my sister. Thankfully, his friend saw what happened and pulled him away. The worst part was that a bouncer was standing next to our group and did absolutely nothing. I still get sick to my stomach every time I drive past the bar."
"I was studying abroad in a different country when a fellow student told me he had a crush on me. I turned him down because I wasn’t looking to date abroad, but we stayed friends for the rest of the semester. Then he started telling people things that made me uncomfortable (like being in love with me and wanting to go to America for me), so I cut ties when he left in the winter.
However, he returned in March and spent an entire week waiting in my dorm building, outside of my room, attending my classes, and constantly harassing me via text. This eventually culminated in him trying to break into my dorm room and threatening me. I never felt safe going anywhere alone after that, and even now that I’m home, I can’t help but worry that he’ll try to come here and do the same thing."
"My freshman year of college I was at this guy's apartment with a few other people having some drinks and playing games. I slowly realized that everyone was trickling out until he and I were the only ones left. I was uncomfortable with this and tried to get up and leave, but when I told him I wanted to go home he backed me into a corner and said 'Don't be like that' and started kissing me. I pushed him away and told him again that I wanted to go home, but he pushed me back into the wall. I ended up giving in and sleeping with him because I was afraid of what might happen if I tried to leave."
"I was 14-years-old at the park with a friend when two middle aged guys approached us. One looked at me and said 'Oh you're a rebel! Drinking!' I replied 'Yeah, soda, because I'm 14', which didn't bother them at all. So they just kept talking to us and getting closer and closer, no matter how many times we explicitly said we didn't want to talk and asked them to leave. They started getting angry and defensive and wouldn't leave us alone until an older girl at the park saw what was happening and threatened to call the cop. It's been many years, but I'll always remember this day and the girl who stepped in and helped us."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
If you or someone you love has been affected by sexual violence, check out the resources available on the National Sexual Violence Resource Center or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to talk to a trained professional.