For many women the first time they were harassed is an experience that stays with them forever. A new hashtag is highlighting these stories.
On May 28 Twitter user Mikki Kendall created the hashtag #FirstHarassed and asked people to share their stories of the first time they can remember being harassed.
I was 10 years old when I was #firstharassed & it was a much older man. How many of us were children preyed on by adults?
We tend to frame street harassment as something teenagers & adults deal with, but a lot of us are under 12 when #firstharassed
The man that #firstharassed me had gray hair. He was easily in his 50's. Old enough to be my grandfather. Ick.
Harassment can range from catcalling to sexual harassment and rape. Women shared a range of experiences with harassment, from street harassment at a young age to sexual advances from people they knew as children.
The hashtag quickly gained momentum with more and more people sharing their stories. While some men and people of other genders weighed in on Twitter, the overwhelming number of narratives came from women.
Shockingly, many women who shared their stories experienced harassment long before they had even hit puberty. Sadly, new research shows that harassment at an early age is not limited to women sharing their stories on Twitter -- it's the norm for women and girls around the globe.
A study conducted by anti-street harassment organization Hollaback! in partnership with Cornell University, looked at the prevalence of harassment around the world. The research survey included over 16,000 participants from 21 countries and found that the majority of women around the world are first catcalled between the ages of 11 and 17.
Over 70 percent of respondents said they've been followed at some point and 50 percent said they've been groped in public.
These statistics are shocking until you read the #FirstHarassed stories, and they quickly become even more shocking as they're humanized. These are women who have experienced harassment at very young ages. And after reading through the #FirstHarassed thread, it's obvious these experiences are far too common.
Here are 18 troubling and frightening #FirstHarassed stories from women on Twitter:
I was 10, walking with my cousin in a sleepy beach town, and he was a middle-aged white guy who'd had a few too many. #firstharassed
— Nicole 수정 (@nicole_soojung) May 28, 2015
— Kimberly Kinchen (@SheRidesABike) May 28, 2015
9 years old, my teen cousin and I were in my grandmother's basement. He never touched his girlfriend so he used me. #firstharassed
— Queen.Enigma (@FoxyKnoxyyy) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed at age 11, in a movie theatre, with my mother present. Harasser was her age or older.
— L.B. (@Lucie_Witt) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed at age 9. Walking to the store for candy w/my cousin. Men honked and offered us rides b/c we were "too pretty to walk"
— Lauren M. (@AngryWriterGirl) May 28, 2015
I was harassed so much I can't tell you when I was #firstharassed. That's how "normal" it was. I just know it started around age 9/10ish.
— Cirque du SoBae (@brownandbella) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed on a cruise ship by a middle-aged kitchen worker. He asked another child to lure me into his cabin. I was 10 yrs old.
— Kandake (@GoddessKandake) May 28, 2015
Men used my height as an excuse and I guess I stood out to them. They would tell me how old I "looked" to them. Terrifying. #firstharassed
— tekline, gem queen (@alketrolyat) May 28, 2015
16 years old, an evening out with friends, a guy on the streets decides to "lift me up" by putting his hand between my legs #firstharassed
— Bianca (@oculisquaerunt) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed at 12 at a park. Guy told me I had a baby face but an adult body, grabbed my hand and tried to get me to leave with him
— trillary clinton (@iamtraceyc) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed at 11 by man talking about my ass (a cuss word!) and my hair. He followed me home from the convenience store.
— Frejya Fierce (@melissapierce) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed when a class mate would stalk me on my paper route; the principal said it was my fault I was delivering papers near him
— princess vi (@lavishwitch) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed at 11 by a group of firemen, who told my mother and I they couldn't decide which one of us they wanted more.
— Samantha (@samanthadjb) May 28, 2015
In their home, his wife hired me. I was 11 and babysitting their kids #firstharassed. He had to be 30.
— Ash Ward⚢♊♚ (@BlkLightDisco) May 28, 2015
#firstharassed my bus driver told me I was pretty and how he wanted to marry a "woman" like me. I was 11.
— Brittany Meché (@BrittanyMeche) May 28, 2015
Being 10 & terrified to walk home from school because of the men who sat across the road who told me they'd "try me" #firstharassed
— glass minaj-erie (@melaninoverlord) May 29, 2015
Does being ordered by adult male strangers to "Smile - you're so pretty when you smile" count? Weekly since early childhood. #FirstHarassed
— Only Human (@leahmcelrath) May 28, 2015
I was #firstharassed when I was 5. I was left alone in a house with 4 teenage boys whose mother, my babysitter, went out to do something.
— née yasmine (@farahnadal_) May 28, 2015
There were many people who tweeted in support of the hashtag and the women telling their stories.
#firstharassed is necessary for highlighting that for most women sexual harassment begins while we are children. We're socialised into fear
— Sunny Singh (@sunnysingh_nw3) May 28, 2015
The fact that some men are discounting the stories on #firstharassed tells you everything you need to know.
— Jess Zimmerman (@j_zimms) May 28, 2015
so many men ask about why women don't trust us? read #firstharassed - for women this has existed for as long as they can remember
— #JeSuisThibs (@OTSWST) May 28, 2015
If y'all haven't seen the #FirstHarassed tweets...
Do so, especially as men. Look at our culture of fear, violence, & unwanted advances.
— Bacchus (@theonlybacchus) May 28, 2015
Head over to Twitter to read more of these important stories.