Among respondents under 40 years old, 85 percent said they have taken a different route home in order to avoid potential harassment, while 72 percent said they have chosen a different mode of transportation. Nearly 70 percent said they decided against attending a social event, like a party or a movie. Sixty-six percent said they felt pressured to change how they dressed. Thirty-five percent said they’ve either moved or considered moving to a different house to get away from the harassment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “non-contact unwanted sexual experiences” — which is a category that includes catcalls from strangers — is the most prevalent form of sexual violence experienced by both men and women. Last year, research released by the advocacy group Stop Street Harassment estimated that 65 percent of American women have experienced unwanted attention from strangers on the street.
it’s not uncommon for women to encounter violence after they turn down men’s romantic advances. There are well-documented instances of street harassment resulting in physical attacks against women… When you think about street harassment on the spectrum of violence against women, it becomes clear that women are expected to police a lot of different areas of their lives in order to avoid becoming a victim… there are a lot of ways that women are also told to change their behavior to prevent rape. Women are told to dress more modestly, drink less alcohol, travel in groups, and carry a gun in order to avoid sexual assault. There’s an entire industry dedicated to anti-rape apps that women can download.
By placing the weight of prevention on women themselves, women’s lives quickly become consumed by constant efforts to keep themselves safe. Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, told ThinkProgress “as a woman, I’m told not to go out alone at night, to watch my drink, to do all of these things. Rape isn’t just controlling me while I’m actually being assaulted — it controls me 24/7.”