The previous story is worthwhile for commentary because it is a fairly common example that illustrates a number of important concepts.

The 1ST important concept to grasp is that the primary reason the woman doesn’t respond to the man is due to FEAR OF NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES of her taking action.  There may be a multitude of secondary reasons, but they all boil down to fear of something- fear of embarrassment, fear of being wrong, fear of confrontation, fear of a physical attack, etc.

As a result, she has determined (consciously or unconsciously) that the safest course of action is to ignore the man.  In this case, “safest” means the response that is least likely to cause negative consequences.

Every problem (threat) such as this one has multiple possible outcomes. The “best” response is to solve the problem (choose the response) that has the greatest possibility of minimal negative consequences combined with the greatest possibility of positive consequences.

What are some of the possible negative consequences?

1.       She could be physically attacked and killed or seriously injured.

2.       She could be physically attacked and moderately injured.

3.       She could be physically attacked and slightly injured.

4.       She could be verbally abused, berated, insulted, threatened, etc.

5.       She could be publically embarrassed or humiliated.

6.       She could be suffer flashbacks from a previous traumatic incident.

7.       She could suffer regret and feelings of powerlessness as a result of the incident.

8.       There are more, but these are the main ones that come to mind.

What are some of the positive consequences?

1.       No negative consequences.

2.       She responds in such a manner that she becomes more empowered.

3.       She responds in a manner that encourages other women.

4.       She responds in a manner that discourages other potential offenders.

5.       She responds in a manner that leads to the arrest and punishment of the offender.

6.       As with the negative consequences, there are more.

All of the above bring us to the 2nd concept of TRADE-OFF.  Everything we do has a positive and negative associated risk or cost. Nothing is either completely positive or completely negative. Thus nothing is absolutely right or absolutely wrong. It all depends upon the circumstances.
For example, the moment we get behind the wheel of an automobile, we subject ourselves to the negative consequences of a car accident which could result in serious injury or death to you or to another person(s). But the majority of us do it anyway because the positive consequences of driving are greater than the negative consequences of not driving. Even through the severity of the negative consequences are high (injury and death) the odds of the negative are small enough to be out weighted by the positive, hence, the Trade-Off.

The Trade-Off exists in everything we do, but most of the time we either don’t notice it, or have become accustomed to the associated negative so we disregard or accept the negative.
The 3rd concept is PROBABILITY. A major component of the Trade-Off is the associated chance of something positive or negative happening. Nothing is 100% certain. The goal is to make decisions (solve problems) based on educated probabilities of outcomes (solutions).

The 4th concept is DOMINION. A dominion is a place, an area, a society, a sociological group, where certain behaviors are commonly practiced, or follow certain patterns, or there are “rules”.
Getting back to the woman on the train. Those that are familiar with the DOMINION of the subway in most western civilizations know the following:

1.       Men who grope women are counting on being able to violate their victims secretly.

2.       The offenders need to locate and target the “silent victims”.

3.       Secrecy depends upon the victim NOT responding in any type of assertive manner or drawing attention to her being violated.

4.       The offenders do NOT want confrontation because confrontation will draw attention to their actions.

5.       The offenders rarely engage in violence as part of their violation. Engaging in violence brings with it a high risk of both bystander involvement and institutional punishment.

6.       The offenders’ greatest tool for success is capitalizing upon their victims’ FEAR OF NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES. The offenders are relying on their implicit ability to engage in violence even through the PROBABILITY of them engaging in violence is actually low.

The woman in the story was unfamiliar with the DOMINION of the subway.  As a result, she decided not to respond because she believed the TRADE-OFF of the PROBABILITY of negative consequences was greater than the PROBABILITY of positive associated consequences of her taking assertive action.
In my opinion, she didn’t take into consideration the multiple negative consequences of her not taking action. As a direct result of her not responding and being a “silent victim”. She regrets her inaction. She feels more powerless. She feels she is NOT as assertive as she had previously believed. She sees herself as having more of a victim personality. She is unsure of how she will respond in a more dangerous situation. These feelings are magnified by stories of women who dealt with similar violations in an assertive manner.

I feel that the course of action that would have provided the most positive overall result would have been for the woman to set (Communicate) a verbal boundary with an assertive phrase (Verbal Fence). That puts her Offender on notice that he needs to stop his actions immediately or she will escalate her response (Enforce) as needed. In this case, her escalated response would have resulted in the immediate intervention of the undercover officers in the vicinity.
It is by understanding the rules and behaviors of the DOMINION you are in, and by practicing (training) responses that you are able to execute the action most likely to create the greatest positive outcome to any threat (problem).



The 12 Axioms of Respect, Communication, and Enforcement

1. More Respect requires less Enforcement.
2. Less Respect requires more Enforcement.
3. Effective Communication helps create Respect.
4. Poor Communication requires more Enforcement.
5. Under-Enforcement reduces Respect.
6. Over-Enforcement reduces Respect.
7. Just-Right Enforcement creates Respect.
8. Violations of the Rules are Willing or Knowing.
9. Willing Violations are caused by Lack of Respect.
10. Willing Violations are reduced by Enforcement.
11. Unknowing Violations are caused by poor Communication.
12. Unknowing Violations are reduced by effective Communication.

Why make the Infograph and the Axiums? Why not just tell men to stop harassing women and call it a job well done? Because it is not that simple.

My nine year old sees a "conflict" and immediately wants to know "which one is the good guy?"
To her it all boils down to good vs. evil. But my eleven year old has figured out that it is not that simple. Like "beauty", many times the perception of right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder.

If you want to change someone's or a group of people's behavior, just saying "stop" is not enough. You need to know why they are exhibiting the behavior in the first place. Is it from lack of respect or from lack of understanding. That knowledge will be the key to formulating the most effective response.


This message seems pretty simple. The message is that it is harassing to whistle at women. Women don't appreciate it. The method to show your disapproval is to ignore it. Over 55,000 LIKES on Facebook and 7,000+ SHARES.

But if you take a look at the 1,200 COMMENTS, it becomes obvious why the issue of street harassment is so difficult to resolve.  There is a tremendous amount of confusion and disagreement as to what actions constitutes street harassment, whether certain acts are disrespectful or not, and what the best response is.

There is a wide division between male and female viewpoints, and also among those of the same gender. Each person seems convinced of his or her "rightness" and many have a personal story to prove their point.
This is not my opinion. Read some of the comments for yourself to confirm.

These widely differing opinions show that the Rules of Behavior are not well defined. Rules that are not well defined are both difficult to Communicate and difficult to Enforce.

Therefore, lowering the overall rate of street harassment first requires focusing on the behaviors that the vast majority of people agree are unacceptable and definitely a Violation of the Rules of Behavior.

Even if YOU know what constitutes Street Harassment, if THEY don't know, then the Rules have not been clearly defined and well Communicated.

In my opinion, it is Street Harassment to do or say anything to another person, irregardless of gender, race, disability, or sexual orientation, in a public place, that makes the other person feel uncomfortable or is likely to be unwanted.


The concept of Victim Blaming is well known and has been written about extensively.
Most writings, marches, and protests that oppose Victim Blaming do an excellent job of describing what Victim Blaming is and how it is detrimental to the Victim.  Unfortunately, they usually don't offer an alternative other than to blame the Perpetrator.

Victim Blaming is an integral part of an Insecure Culture. In terms of sexual assault, an Insecure Culture is also a Rape Culture. It has the following characteristics.

The Three Signs:
General Under Reporting of sexual assaults by Victims and Society.
General Under Enforcement of sexual assaults by Society.
General Under Respect exhibited by the Perpetrators and by Society to the Victims of sexual assault.

The Three Signs of Insecure Cultures combined with Victim Blaming create the perpetuating cycle of Rape Culture. While the idea of blaming the Perpetrators maybe satisfying, it doesn't easily lend to a plan of action. The opposite of Victim Blaming is NOT Perpetrator Blaming. It is victim and potental victim Support.

In a Secure Culture, there is no place for sexual assault. Victims and potential victims of all types of violations are supported by Society. This support creates an environment where all violations are reported. This same support by Society leads to greater enforcement and punishment of Violators. The application of appropriate enforcement builds a culture of societal respect and an intolerance for violations of the rules of behavior.

The Three Pillars of Security: Communication, Enforcement, and Respect minimize violations and build security in Society.


Keep It Simple and Straightforward with Progressive Boundary Setting

Street harassment is a complex issue. Solutions to complex issues require a means to help conceptualize and convey them.

Societies are based upon rules a/k/a boundaries that limit unwanted behaviors. These rules must be COMMUNICATED. If the rules are not RESPECTED, then they must be ENFORCED. Rules are enforced by the use of Progressive Responses a/k/a escalating actions by individuals and policing authorities. Responses must be Just Right a/k/a appropriate for the situation, neither too passive nor too aggressive. The use of Just Right Responses creates respect for rules and boundaries of society.

If Street Harassment is COMMUNICATED to both individuals and society as an unwanted behavior, then those that engage in it lack RESPECT for the rule of polite interactions. Therefore, this boundary must be ENFORCED by targets, bystanders, and society through the use of Progressive Responses that are Just Right for the situation.

In terms of society, violations of rules are ENFORCED by social pressure and policing authorities. In terms of individuals, violations of personal boundaries are ENFORCED by the Progressive Responses of body language, assertive phrases, and physical actions. Progressive Responses that are Just Right for the situation create RESPECT for the individual.

The collective effect of Just Right Responses by individuals COMMUNICATES societal social pressure to ENFORCE the end of street harassment. ENFORCEMENT by policing authorities COMMUNICATES the rule of RESPECTFUL interactions. It encourages targets and bystanders to engage in ENFORCEMENT of this boundary through the use of Just Right Responses that are neither too passive nor too aggressive in response to Street Harrassment.

Progressive Boundary Setting by targets, bystanders, and society is the means to conceptualize the end of Street Harassment.


Global Warming has the RRR: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, a three step plan to lowering an individual’s and society’s carbon footprint. It works because it can be implemented on both a small and large scale, from children to multi-national corporations.

CER: COMMUNICATE, ENFORCE, RESPECT is a three step plan that can be implemented by both society and individuals as a method to end street harassment.

It all starts with COMMUNICATION. The behavior of street harassment must be clearly communicated to society that it is an unwanted behavior and outside the boundary of acceptable social interaction. Clear communication leaves no room for the excuses and claims of “I didn’t know…”, “I didn’t realize…”, “I didn’t mean …”, etc. Therefore, those that engage in street harassment will undeniably be breaking the rules of society.

Individuals and organizations such as Hollaback, Slutwalk, and others that make people aware of the existence and problem of street harassment are engaging in the 1st step of COMMUNICATION. They are communicating that street harassment is unacceptable behavior and against the rules of society.

COMMUNICATION takes many forms such as using social media, websites, blogs, protest marches, talks, discussions, speeches, Letters to the Editor, Op-eds, books, articles, flyers, posters, handouts, rallies, and more. On an individual level, COMMUNICATION involves body language, assertive phrases, and actions.

The 2nd step is ENFORCEMENT. Those that break the rules, lack RESPECT for the rules. COMMUNICATION depends upon RESPECT to be effective. Therefore, the next higher level is ENFORCEMENT. Institutional ENFORCEMENT comes in the form of law by government and actions by policing authorities. Societal ENFORCEMENT also comes from collective social pressure and cultural norms. Individual ENFORCEMENT comes in the form of assertive phrases and physical actions.

ENFORCEMENT has the short term goal of limiting harassing behavior. But it also has the long term goal of creating of building a culture of RESPECT. RESPECT is created from appropriate responses that are neither too aggressive nor too passive. That means individual responses to street harassment play an important part of creating RESPECT.

Passive responses to street harassment such as ignoring it and/or being overly fearful do not create RESPECT. On the other hand, overly aggressive ENFORCEMENT responses, such as yelling, screaming, punching, and kicking also do not create RESPECT. In order to make this distinction, street harassment is defined differently than sexual assault. Therefore, it is important for both men and women to receive education on appropriate methods to respond to street harassment as either targets or bystanders.

The final 3rd step of RESPECT involves maintaining both newly created RESPECT, and the RESPECT that already exists in society. RESPECT is not permanent. It is transitory. RESPECT must be continually earned or it will be lost. Since, RESPECT breeds RESPECT, and disrespect breeds disrespect, men and women in society must receive education and training on how to have respectful interactions.

Generally speaking, men need to learn how to respectfully interact with women and maintain limits on their behaviors. And women need to learn how to respectfully COMMUNICATE and ENFORCE behavior limits and personal boundaries.


Why the Debate Over Victim Blaming is a
Misunderstanding of the Difference Between Threat and Risk.

Threats cause Risks in the same way that Diseases cause Symptoms.

The ultimate goal of society is to irradiate threats and diseases. In the meantime, risks are managed, and patient symptoms are treated. Sexual assaults are symptoms of the social disease of Gender Violence.

A threat is a unwanted event that can happen. Threat management means reducing the presence and number of these threats. Risk management deals with taking safety precautions and preventive measures to reduce the occurrence and consequences of these unwanted events.

For example, people who drink and drive are threats. Awareness
campaigns designed to make drinking and driving socially “unacceptable” and revoking the driving licenses of offenders are threat management
actions. Being extra vigilant while driving on Friday and Saturday nights
is risk management. Wearing a seat belt is risk management.

In this example, being in an accident with a drunk driver is a symptom or a risk of the social disease (threat) of drinking and driving. Eliminating the practice of drinking and driving (threat) would also eliminate the risk of being hit by a drunk driver.

In terms of sexual assault, risk management involves women taking specific actions and measures to reduce their own risk of being assaulted. But these actions do nothing to reduce the over all threat caused by Gender Violence. Threat management involves changing the culture of how women are perceived and treated in order to irradiate Gender Violence in society.

It is essential to understand the difference, and the relationship between threats and risks in order to make sense of the discussions that revolve around sexual assault victim blaming. The subject of victim blaming arises when people question what the victim did or did not do before the assault. But the entire debate that centers around blame and responsibility is the result of a misunderstanding of the concept of threat and risk management.

The blame for sexual assaults rests completely on the attacker and the culture that gives rise to this type of behavior. The presence of men who sexually assault women in society represent the threat of Gender Violence. On the other hand, the behavior of a woman prior to an assault relates only to risk management. Therefore, the question of victim blaming is really only pertains to risk management.

The goal of risk management is to reduce risk. Therefore, it is possible to be completely blameless for an assault and still be faulted for poor risk management. It is possible to practice excellent risk management and still be assaulted. Risk management only minimizes risk. It does not make the threat go away. Threat and risk management are not mutually exclusive. It is possible for both of these methodologies to coexist and work together towards a common end.

In order for women to be both free of the danger of sexual assault and free of the burden of risk management, the threat of sexual assault most be eliminated. This result will only come from irradiating Gender Violence from society. But this worthwhile goal, along with the goal of eliminating all human violence is not on the immediate horizon. In the meantime,
practicing risk management while also demanding societal change is the best method to reduce the chances and consequences of a sexual assault.

In summary, Slutwalk, Take Back the Night, and other protest marches are intended to eliminate the threat of sexual assault by changing society. Self-defense classes, preventive measures, and police safety talks are intended to reduce the risk of sexual assault. Both of these methods are complimentary. Understanding the concept behind these different
methods is essential for people to be able to focus on the common ground as opposed to arguing over the differences.


The majority of street harassment that is either visual or verbal and comes from men whose intentions range from seeking your attention, provoking a reaction from you, involving you in a visual fantasy, intimidating you, to testing your suitability for predatory behavior.

The problem with this type of harassment is that it makes you feel powerless and not in control of the situation. The problem with a knee jerk angry reaction such as “Fuck you, asshole”, is that it has the potential to escalate the harassment further. It also requires you to be angry in order to say it. In addition, “Fuck you asshole”, would seem out of place in response to the commonly used comment of “Hey, smile baby!” and is not appropriate around children.

Therefore, what you need is simple phrase that works for almost every situation. You need a response that puts you in control and in the position of power. It must be predetermined response that you can say quickly without having to formulate a sentence. A response that lets the harasser and any bystanders know that you are:

Not interested in talking to him.
Not interested in what he thinks.
Not interested in what he does.
Not interested in how he feels.
Not interested in seeing his actions.
Not interested in what he has to say.
Not interested in being victimized by him.

Not interested in explaining why you are not interested.
Not interested in becoming upset by him.
Not interested in feeling violated by him.

The response of “Not interested” is natural to say because it is most likely how you feel. Therefore, you are assertively communicating your feelings. “Not interested” is an unambiguous rejection of whatever the harasser has to offer or communicate. Therefore, you reject his "compliment" in the same manner that you reject his insult. You reject the harasser and his ability to have power and control over you. You let him and everyone else in the immediate vincinity know it.

Your statement of “Not interested” informs potentially helpful bystanders of the true nature of the situation and creates an opening for their intervention. Your statement allows you to refute the harasser and continue moving away from him. There is no need to stop and confront unless you choose to. You can simply look at the harasser coldly, say "Not interested" and continue on your way. "Not interested" is the first step of physical assertiveness.

Let’s see how “Not Interested” stacks up to commonly used harassing phrases and situations:

“Hey mama!” - “Not interested.”
“Do you need a ride?” – “Not interested.”
“Why don’t you smile baby?” – “Not interested.”
“I like the way you walk.” – “Not interested.”
“I’d like to hit that!” – “Not interested!”

For added dramatic effect, you can add a dismissive wave of your hand.

Kissing noises, hooting, hissing – “Not interested.” (dismissive wave)
A car honking next to you as you walk – "Not interested.” (dismissive wave)

Feeling witty? You can add a second sentence.

Going my way?” – “Not interested. You’re not going anywhere.”
Can I be your boyfriend?” – "Not interested. Not in this lifetime anyway."
“I just want to say hi.” – “Not interested. I just want to say - bye.”
“Why don’t you smile, beautiful?” – “Not interested. It's because of people like you.”

Masturbating in public. - "Not interested. But the police will be." (as you take his picture)

“Hey honey, come suck my dick!”

Feeling angry and aggressive and want to throw caution to the wind? You could always add an insult qualifier such as:

Not interested. You piece of shit.”
Not interested. Dickhead.”
Not interested. You low life creepy fool.”

(NOTE: Using an insult is NOT the suggested response. These are examples that demonstrate the flexiblity of the "Not interested" response. Safety must always be your first priority.)

“Not interested” can always be followed by a verbal warning such as “Back off!"

Come here and let me touch your sweet ass!” – “Not interested. NOW BACK OFF!!”
Ah, come on over here, baby.” - "Not interested. I SAID I WAS NOT INTERESTED!!”

Find yourself in a work related or social situation and don’t want to come off too strong?

“Boy, you are beautiful.” – Not interested. Let’s focus on the getting the job done.”
“Wow! You look fine.” – “Not interested. I don’t need compliments."

"Not interested" also works for non-street harassment situations.

Annoying phone calls. – “Not interested.”
Aggressive sales people. – “Not interested.”
Pesky men at a bar. - “Not interested.”
Unwanted invitations – “Not interested.”

Not interested” is your one stop, all purpose, predetermined, first response to street harassment. It puts you in control. Because it takes no conscious thought to say, you can say it quickly and while under stress. With a little practice, “Not interested” will become your automatic assertive response to most forms of street harassment.

Try it today and then pass it on!


They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.


What is Street Harassment?

Behavior that is disrespectful, inappropriate, and threatening to women in a public setting.

Specific behaviors include public and unwanted staring, leering, whistling, catcalling, commenting, hooting, hissing, propositioning, following, embarrassing, humiliating, exposing, self-pleasuring, touching, groping,threatening, stalking, assaulting, and more.

Street Harassment is a form of Bullying
Street harassment is a form of bullying and sits along the continuum of sexual assault. These behaviors depend upon the existence of an imbalance “Power & Control”. Implicit with this imbalance of power and control is an underlying “threat level” of violence. The Harasser depends upon this implicit threat in order to intimidate the Target of Harassment into not responding assertively.

Why is it a Problem?
Street harassment has the effect of causing women to feel unsafe and less confident as they go about their lives in public streets. The most common response to street harassment is to ignore it. Therefore, young women are literally being “conditioned” to not to respond to being bullied and humiliated. This constant “victimization” has a negative carryover effect and makes women less assertive in other parts of their lives.

What Can be Done About it?
The long term solution is to make street harassment culturally unacceptable. But in the mean time, women need to be provided with proactive response when they are harassed. In order for the response to have maximum effectiveness, the response must be executed in a calculated manner. It should not be a knee jerk reaction.

Won’t Responding Make the Situation Worse?
One reason that the street harassment is so prevail ant and “successful” is because the Harasser is counting on the Target either to not respond out of fear, or react out of anger. Either way, the Harasser has “controlled” the situation and exerted his “power”.

How Can I Formulate an Effective Response?
An effective response is about increasing your power and control of the situation while simultaneously lessening the Harasser’s power & control. Every situation of harassment must be approached differently. You must be able to determine what factors are providing power and control to the Harasser, and how to best undermine them. In many cases you will find that the Power is simply a matter of physical strength. Being male provides the Harasser with more physical strength. The Control is the intimidation created by the Power.

Power & Control
When a man harasses a woman, he is in effect saying “I can say or do anything I want, and you cannot do anything about it”. The reason he feels this way is that he feels that he can rely on his physical strength keep him safe. His ace in the hole is his ability to become violent to be victorious in the encounter. But is this really true? Can he really assault you without recourse?

The reality is that in a vast amount of situations, if the man attacks you, he has just crossed a major line. One that could put him in jail, cost him thousands of dollars in legal fees, cause him to lose his job, or the respect of his peers. He could be labeled as a sex offender. His power in the situation is only temporary; the real power lies in the aftermath. Refute his power and he has lost control.

That being said, there are those that harass specifically to get a reaction. They know you would never engage with them voluntarily. Therefore, they force you to acknowledge their existence. These men need to be handled a little differently. But the strategy remains the same. Determine the source of their power and control and formulate a calculated response


The 3A’s of Street Harassment Disruption are a plan to deal with Street Harassment as it occurs. They are designed to provide the Target of the harassment a strategic response. The response is designed to have an effect on four entities.

1. Target- Provide the Target with a response that will make the Target feel better.
2. Harasser – Provide the Harasser with a response that discourages this type of behavior.
3. Bystanders – Provide a response that encourages Bystander support of Target.
4. Community – Provide a response that discourages Street Harassment in general in society.

ACKNOWLEDGE – It is important for the Target and Bystander to acknowledge that she or someone else is being targeted for harassment. That this behavior is harmful not only to the Target, but to all those that witness it. Adolescents are most at-risk.

ASSESS – The Target and Bystander need to rapidly assess several factors in order to formulate the most effective response.

Assess what type Harasser is involved and what is the Harasser’s immediate Intention.
Assess the environment for intervening and mitigating factors such as other supportive Bystanders, police, or more Harassers.
Assess the Target’s and the Bystander’s realistic ability (strengths & weaknesses) to confront the Harassment.

ACT – If there is no immediate threat to personal safety, the action should let the Harasser know that his behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. To avoid escalating the situation, this message should not to be conveyed with anger , but with a strong voice and body language that leaves no doubt about the inappropriateness of the behavior. "Not interested!", “Stop harassing women.” . “Don’t touch me.” “Move away.” “Back off!” are examples of assertive phrases designed to deter some types of harassing behavior.

Response actions can be divided into three main types:

1. Visual - A signal from the Target using body language.
2. Verbal – Calculated words or phrases from the Target in response.
3. Physical – Physical movements from the Target in response.

The most effective responses will usually be Compound Actions and use multiple types of Actions.

The idea here is to understand WHAT type of reaction the Harasser WANTS and give him one that is the most opposite to what he WANTS. For example, if he wants to shock and disgust you, you show amusement and contempt for his “ability” to shock and disgust.


There is a wide variety of types of street harassment. Therefore, the different types need to be identified. It is important to recognize and categorize the behavior in order to be able to conceptualize it and discuss it. Each type of harassment has a different delivery method. The harassment can be delivered visually, verbally, or physically. In addition, each type of harassment situation contains an implicit “threat level” of possible violence. The following behaviors are group by the Harasser’s intention and listed in order of increasing anti-social behavior.

Understanding the intention and motivation of the harasser is important in order to create the most effective response. By understanding why he is doing it, you will be in a much better position to determine what type of response will act as a deterrent for future harassment, but also will not escalate the situation towards violence.

Visual Fantasy – Engaging in forbidden mental imagery with Target as subject of fantasy.
1. Staring
2. Leering
3. Picture Taking

Seek Attention – Attempting to get noticed by the Target or by bystanders.
1. Flattering
2. Whistling
3. Honking
4. Catcalling
5. Commenting

Provoke Reaction – Attempting to get some type of strong response from Target.
1. Hooting
2. Hissing
3. Propositioning
4. Following
5. Embarrassing
6. Heckling
7. Humiliating
8. Exposing

Self-Pleasure – Engaging in physical touch with self or with Target as subject of fantasy.
1. Masturbating
2. Touching
3. Groping

Fear & Intimidation – Attempting to induce fear into the Target
1. Threatening
2. Intimidating

Predatory Testing - Purposefully observing and/or interacting with the Target to determine if she is a suitable victim to attack.
1. Stalking
2. Rape interviewing


Why did he do that? What’s he thinking? Profiling Harassers.
Profiling the harasser is useful because it provides the Target and the Bystander a means for determining what type of harassing person they are dealing with. This knowledge helps take some of the fear out of the encounter. It also enables a vocabulary for conceptualizing and discussion.

The dynamics of all human conflict are based on power and control. This dynamic motivates Street Harassment too. But, it is by understanding the immediate intention that Target and the Bystander are able to formulate a response that is counter to the Harasser’s expectations and desires.

The Harasser’s Intention is to engage in a Visual Fantasy. He usually expects to be ignored.
Public Voyeur – This person does a lot of staring, leering, takes a picture, etc.
The Creep – His very presence gives women “the creeps”. He usually knows it and uses it.


The Harasser’s Intention to Seek Attention. He is forcing you to recognize his existence.
Car Driving Baboon – Honks, hoots, and hollers at you as he drives by. A “hit and run” tactic.
Charmer Wannabe – Comes on too strong, does not listen to “No”, thinks he is “God’s gift to women, might follow you, engages in bantering and “compliments”. Attempts to control the encounter.
Working Stiff – Harasses you while on the job. Looking for entertainment. Usually in a group.
Peacocking Showoff – Playing to the crowd. Looking to be the entertainment. Wants attention.


The Harasser’s Intention is to Provoke a Reaction. Expects to be ignored or get an angry reaction.
Dirty Old Man – You know him when you see him. Many times goes after the young and innocent.
Drunken Asshole – Has alcohol fueled courage, no inhibitions, exhibits poor judgement, etc. Sometimes starts out as the Charmer Wannabe.
Crude Oaf – Makes especially vulgar and disgusting comments directly to or about you.


The Harasser’s Intention is Self-Pleasure. Uses his repulsive behavior to control the situation.

The Pervert – Engages in flashing and public masturbation like activities, etc.
Touchy Feeler – Gets close to women and tries to rub against or touch them inappropriately whenever possible. Utilizes public transportation to his advantage. Can be sneaky or obvious.


The Harasser’s Intention is Fear & Intimidation. Uses the threat of violence to control the situation.
Overgrown Bully – Uses threatening, derogatory, angry language, impulsive behavior, etc.
Anti-Social Intimidator – Uses violence as a tool at the slightest provocation. He is dangerous.


The Harasser’s Intention is Predatory Testing. He is actively looking to find a suitable victim.
Predatory Stalker – Follows the Target seeking opportunity for further victimization.

Opportunistic Predator – Harassment is a means to test/interview for potential victimization. He sometimes uses the techniques of the Charmer Wannabe. He is dangerous and needs to be deterred with the use of strong physical assertiveness and a Not Me!!! attitude.



This example provided in only designed to show how to use the 3A’s of Acknowledge Assess Act. The ACTIONS depicted are not necessarily the best responses. They are shown here to illustrate the concept of using a Visual, Verbal, or Physical response to a particular type of harassment from a particular type of harasser.

You are walking down the sidewalk during the day and a man starts complimenting you on how good you look. You continue ignore him and continue walking, but he starts to follow you and continue his verbal banter.

STEP #1:
ACKNOWLEDGE – Yes. He is directing his attention at you. What is happening is flatterying, commenting, and following harassing behavior.

STEP #2:
A. ASSESS the Intention - What is the Intention of the Harasser? Seek Attention - He wants to engage with you.

B. ASSESS the Harasser – What type named harasser does this type of behavior? Charmer Wannabe.

C. ASSESS the Environment – Other people around, but no one else is paying attention.

D. ASSESS yourself – You are NOT afraid or intimidated. You want to respond to and take control of the situation.

A. ACT with a Visual Response – You look at him directly and coldly.

B. ACT with a Verbal Response – You make a statement to the effect of "Do not bother me!"

C. ACT with a Physical Response – You look at him directly and coldly, you put up your hands and make a "move back motion".

The most effective response is a compound action that involves the combination of (A), (B), and (C).

These actions demonstrate Physical Assertiveness designed to deter the onset of aggression.

The ACTUAL response will vary depending upon the circumstances and the nature of the people involved. The idea is to provide a FLEXIBLE STRATEGY as opposed to a canned response.


This example provided in only designed to show how to use the 3A’s of Acknowledge Assess Act. The ACTIONS depicted are not necessarily the best responses. They are shown here to illustrate the concept of using a Visual, Verbal, or Physical response to a particular type of harassment from a particular type of harasser.

You are walking down the sidewalk during the day and a man opens his coat and exposes himself in your direction.

STEP #1:
ACKNOWLEDGE – Yes. It was not a mistake and it was directed at you. What just happened? It was Exposing harassment behavior.

STEP #2:
A. ASSESS the Intention - What was the Intention of the Harasser? Provoke Reaction - To shock and disgust you, thus providing power to the Harasser.

B. ASSESS the Harasser – What type named harasser does this type of behavior? The Pervert.

C. ASSESS the Environment – Other people around, but no one else saw it.

D. ASSESS yourself – You are NOT afraid or intimidated. You want to respond to both make yourself feel better and make the Harasser feel worse.

A. ACT with a Visual Response – You look at him with contempt and make the universal sign of a “tiny penis”. You chuckle as you walk away.

B. ACT with a Verbal Response – You look at him with contempt and say “Pathetic”. You chuckle as you walk away.

C. ACT with a Physical Response – Take a picture and chuckle as you walk away.

The ACTUAL response will vary depending upon the circumstances and the nature of the people involved. The idea is to provide a FLEXIBLE STRATEGY as opposed to a canned response.


Reading comments and discussions about Street Harassment seems to confirm a number of factors.

1. There is wide disagreement as to what exactly constitutes Street Harassment with the behavior discussed ranging from asking “How are you doing?” to physical assault.

2. The majority of women seem to be bothered by Street Harassment. Some don’t mind it. A minority seems to like certain aspects of it. The most common response is to ignore it.

3. The most common fear is that it will escalate into “something worse”.

4. When a woman does respond, she does it out of anger. She has reached the “breaking point”. But after responding she seems to feel better about herself and the incident.

5. The most common thought is that men do it to get attention.

6. When Seeking Attention men make a “compliment” and get an angry reaction, they sometimes react with anger.

This discussion on Street Harassment is similar to a self-defense discussion session where someone asks “What is the best move for self-defense?” What follows is lots of back and forth suggestions and comments, but no one seems to realize that there is no “best move for self-defense”. Just like there is no “best color” or there is best “temperature”. It is all relative to the particular circumstances.

When it comes down to it, a woman is bothered by Street Harassment when she feels a man is being disrespectful, inappropriate, or threatening to her in a public place. She is usually not bothered if she feels the man is being polite and respectful. In this case the definition of disrespectful and inappropriate is any behavior that would be considered by society to be disrespectful and inappropriate in a “controlled social setting”.

This definition avoids the issue of what exactly was done and why it was done. Male or female, we all know when someone is being disrespectful to us and we don’t like it. Most of the times it is not the exact words, it is the voice tone and body language that determines whether we feel someone is being disrespectful.

Therefore, if the greeting of “Hey baby, looking good today!” is disrespectful in a controlled social setting, then it is disrespectful in the street and therefore it is Street Harassment. Threatening is also defined in the eyes of the beholder. If you feel that someone is threatening you, then they are. Regardless of what that person says his intention is. This definition easily encompasses all public sexual acts which are forbidden in controlled social situations.

This definition is also very understandable to men. Men are known to fight and kill each other over minor “disrespect” on the street. It is something they all can relate to. If Seeking Attention men were to understand that their actions were being perceived as being disrespectful, they would also understand why women don’t like it and why some react with anger. Therefore, the woman’s anger would be considered “justified” as opposed to “unjustified”. This knowledge would make it less likely that the man would escalate with his own anger. This is no different than understanding male road rage. Few things bring on more male anger than the feeling that someone is “unjustly” disrespecting him on the road.

Why does the Seeking Attention man use sexual comments? I think it is because he is “throwing as much mud against the wall as possible and hoping the something will stick.” He knows that the vast majority of women are not interested in interacting with him. He is trying to find one that will respond in a positive manner. It is simply a numbers game. It might be one in one hundred, but he is looking for that one. Catcalling is a tactic for avoiding outright rejection. He can still feel like he is in control. He is basically forcing women to acknowledge his presence and existence.

The next question leads us to the Provoke Reaction man, the one who is purposefully being to be rude or touches you in order to get a reaction. Why is he doing it? I suggest looking at the Provoke Reaction man as someone suffering from a very serious case of the Sour Grapes. This man might be a failed Seeking Attention man, or not. He knows that the Target woman would not be interested in interacting with him no matter what he said. As a result, the best he can do is to make inappropriate and threatening comments to make him feel that he has some ability and power to over the Target.

The Self-Pleasuring man is sort of a more perverted and less verbal version of the Provoke Reaction man. But if Self-Pleasuring man is engaging in some type of public masturbation, he is demonstrating significant anti-social behavior. Therefore, he has the potential to exhibit other possibly violent anti-social behaviors.

Predatory Testing is the most dangerous of the types of intentions. The Street Harassment is being used as a tool to locate suitable victims for attack. It is also a means for him to gain experience with using different techniques and strategies to manipulate women. This type of person must be dealt with strong physical assertiveness. It is important to be able to distinguish this person from the less dangerous Seeking Attention man even though they may appear to exhibit similar behaviors.

The majority of the Street Harassment discussions seem to make no mention of the different types of intentions involved in the scenarios described. It is for this reason that no one is able to come up with the best response to Street Harassment. Just like self-defense, there is no best response. Everything depends upon the particular circumstances.


The implications of Street Harassment on Personal Safety for Women

Street Harassment has a direct effect on reducing the personal safety of women and increasing their risk of sexual assault. The reasons for this is as follows:

1. Effect on Women as Targets of Harassment

A. Self-Worth – A major element to personal safety is directly related to the potential Target’s feeling of confidence and self-worth. When women’s feeling of self-worth are lowered by Street Harassment, they are at greater risk of being victimized

B. Intuition – Listening to your intuition is considered an extremely important aspect of personal safety. Intuition has a number of names; spider sense, threat alarm, sixth sense, inner voice, etc. Regardless of the name, responding to the warning of intuition is designed to warn people of impending danger. Upon receiving the warning, the person is supposed to either “flee” or “fight”. The problem is that the experience of numerous incidents of Street Harassment has conditioned women to ignore their intuition.

It is neither practical nor advisable to “flee” from or “fight” every instance of Street Harassment. Therefore, women learn to silence their intuition and endure the harassment. As a result, when faced with a real threat to personal safety, a woman may ignore her intuition believing that she is “merely” being harassed. This decreased ability to distinguish between Street Harassment and the prelude to an assault makes women greater risk of being victimized.

C. Vocal Assertiveness – The use of a laud and powerful voice to ward off an attacker is another cornerstone of personal safety. Street Harassment conditions women to be silent. Due to the implicit threat of violence that comes with Street Harassment, women learn to ignore the behavior and not respond. They are afraid that if they respond with vocal indignation, they will escalate the situation into violence. Being conditioned to be silent to abuse puts women at greater risk of being victimized.

D. Situational Awareness - Being aware of one’s surroundings is thought to be the most effective means of personal safety. Awareness is a deterrent to assault. But the existence of Street harassment makes situational awareness ineffective. It is not possible to use awareness to avoid Street Harassment. Street Harassment occurs regardless of if the woman is “aware” or not. In fact, a “conditioned” defense to Street Harassment is the use of headsets to not hear comments, looking down to avoid eye contact, and other techniques to appear oblivious to Street Harassers in hopes of not catching their attention. These factors put women greater risk of being victimized.

E. Avoidance – Avoiding potentially dangerous situations is the complement to awareness. But it is impossible to avoid Street Harassment. Street Harassment by definition occurs in public places where women want and have a right to be. Constant exposure to Street Harassment “conditions” women to believe that they are unable to avoid abuse. Therefore, avoidance as a concept of personal safety loses its value. This loss of confidence in avoidance puts woman at greater risk of being victimized.

F. Personal Space – The practice of maintaining a safety perimeter of no less than five feet is another important concept of personal safety. The concept is that by keeping strangers from bring in close proximity; a woman will have more time to respond to an attack. Street Harassment makes a mockery of this practice. Street Harassers are constantly breaking into this safety circle in order to get close to their Target. As a result of women’s inability to regularly maintain a safety circle and keep abusers at a distance, they are at greater risk of being victimized.

G. Conditioning – All of the preceding factors mentioned and more have the effect of lessening the women’s confidence in and ability to apply the concepts of personal safety. Because being subjected to Street Harassment begins in for women in adolescence, women are in effect being operant conditioned over time to be targets of abuse. This conditioning makes women at greater risk of being victimized.


EXAMPLE CASE #1 – The Charmer Wannabe with the intention of Seeking Attention

Harasser: “Looking good honey!”
Target: “Fuck you asshole!”
Harasser: “Oh, ya? I’ll fuck you bitch!!”

There are many profiles of street harassers. There are many types of street harassment behaviors. This writing will address dealing with harassment from Harassers whose intention is to either Seek Attention, Provoke a Reaction, or to create Fear & Intimidation. Rather than having an intention of a Visual Fantasy, Self-Pleasure, or Predatory Testing.

The goal of disrupting an incident of street harassment is to provide a response that has the direct effect of the following:

a. Providing the Target a means to assert her displeasure with the behavior.
b. Provide the Harasser a response that deters future harassment behavior.
c. Provide Bystanders with actionable information in order for them to support the Target.
d. Provide society with one example of how to effectively deal with street harassment.

Referring to the incident above, the Harasser is most likely a Charmer Wannabe. The intention of the comment is to Seek Attention from the Target. He feels that his only means of exerting Power & Control to make the Target recognize his presence is by making forced sexual comments to her.

The Target on the other hand most likely has been victimized by these types of comment over a long period of time. She is fed up. She considers the comment to be disrespectful and an insult. Therefore, she reacts to the “insult” with angry profanity. This reaction satisfies (a) above. She has voiced her displeasure. But it is possible that this satisfaction is only momentary as the Target reviews her reaction.

Referring to (b), the Harasser now feels that he has been unjustly insulted. He had “offered a compliment” and received an insult. Therefore, his reaction is also anger. He now escalates the harassment with the intention of now making the Target feel Fear & Intimidation. The response has not deterred his behavior. The Harasser has only changed his method of harassment.

In regard to (c), Bystanders who observe this interaction see mainly an angry confrontation with no clear aggressor or victim. Therefore, the most likely response will be to not get involved.

In regard to (d), the simple fact that this incident has escalated towards violence is proof that it is not an example for Society to follow.

A response that satisfies (a), (b), (c), (d) is a verbally assertive response combined with strong body language that conveys to the Harasser in no uncertain terms that his behavior is:

(a) Unappreciated and disrespectful to the Target
(b) To women in general
(c) To others who are forced to see and hear it.

The response does not need to be a lecture. It can be simple and quick, something along the lines of:

(a) “Don’t say that. Women do not like it”.
(b) “Learn to be polite. Next time just say hello”.
(c) “Stop harassing women.”
(d) Any phrase that comes across as assertive and not angry, but still conveys how you feel about the comment.

Based upon the initial comment, it is reasonable to assess that the Harasser’s intention is Seeking Attention. Most likely, he is a Charmer Wannabe or a Peacocking Showoff. Despite the ineffectiveness or illogic of his method he is hoping for some type of “ego boosting” response from the Target.

Therefore in his mind, the angry reaction from the Target is more than just a rejection, it is an uncalled for insult. He reacts with his own anger. His intention is now to create Fear & Intimidation in order to teach the Target a Lesson. The Target on the other hand has reacted in exactly the same manner. Her reaction was also designed to teach the Harasser a lesson. These two diametrically opposed viewpoints now collide and escalate the situation.

An assertive response is not an insult, nor is it designed to teach a lesson. It is a statement of fact and perception. When used properly, it de-escalates situations. It clearly conveys your message and feelings. If the Harasser’s denies his behavior or attempts to defend it as being a compliment “Aw, can’t you take a compliment?”, you need to recognize that the Power & Control dynamic has just flipped to your favor. Terminate the encounter with a statement such as “It is disrespectful behavior.” and leave.

Every situation of street harassment contains a different Power & Control dynamic. There is no one response that works every time. But invoking anger means losing control. It is very hard to gain control over a situation when you are simultaneously are losing control too.

EXAMPLE CASE #2 – The Crude Oaf with the intention of Provoke Reaction

Harasser: “Nice tits!”
Target: “Fuck you asshole!”
Harasser: “Your ass looks pretty good too!!”

In the example above, it is most likely that the Harasser is a Crude Oaf with the intention of Provoking Reaction. The Crude Oaf knows that there is no chance of him getting a positive response from you. Therefore, he makes his presence known with an undeniable offensive remark. If you ignore him, he has proven his dominance. If you react with anger, then he knows his that tactic works. Therefore he gives you another offensive remark.

The Crude Oaf is a tough nut to crack. But the undeniably offensive nature of his comments will also alienate him from Bystanders. Since he wants either an angry or intimidated reaction from you, he should get a cold, cool, calculated response. One that states that is behavior is weak and pathetic and therefore by extension so is he. You are effectively denying his ability to have Power & Control over you.
(a) “Your behavior is pathetic.”
(b) “Stop harassing women and go home!”

As before, use any phrase that comes across as assertive and not angry, but still conveys how you feel about the comment. Unlike the Charmer Wannabe or the Peacocking Showoff, the Crude Oaf can’t deny his intention or pretend it was a compliment. Therefore, he may be shocked into silence, or he may morph into an Overgrown Bully. In either case, you need to firmly exit the situation. Do not continue to engage against the Overgrown Bully.

EXAMPLE CASE #3 – The Overgrown Bully with the intention of Fear & Intimidation

Harasser: “Nice tits, bitch!”
Target: “Fuck you asshole!”
Harasser: “Oh, ya. I’ll fuck you, bitch! Now!!”

The Overgrown Bully makes his intention clear with his comment. He wants to threaten and intimidate you. An angry reaction just gives him more incentive to raise the stakes. As with the Crude Oaf, your reaction of anger or intimidation is a confirmation of his power. The Overgrown Bully is actually threatening you. Therefore, your response needs to deter the onset of further aggression. Your response needs to be calculated to end the threat and make Bystanders aware of your situation.

(a) “Stay away!”
(b) “Back off!!”

These statements must be combined with powerful body language. You must use physical assertiveness to convey a “do not mess with me attitude!”

Your goal should be to end the encounter and to exit the situation. This is not the time to express your anger or indignation. Exit, and go to the police. Tell them you were threatened on the street.

Fortunately, encountering the Overgrown Bully at the outset is much rarer than the other types of harassers. It is important to realize that all harasser’s have the potential to morph into the Overgrown Bully or worse. Therefore, regardless of your right to be angry, your goal is to avoid reacting with anger.
When it comes to confrontations, anger is the accelerator, assertiveness is the brake.


No writing on street harassment is complete without an examination of the role of male bystanders. In this case, the bystanders are defined as being neither participants, nor friends or associates of the harasser. The bystanders are strangers with no ties to either the Target of harassment or the Harasser.

The question of why “no bystanders, especially men, took any action to intervene during or after an incident of harassment” is quite common. The typical feeling is that the male bystanders either don’t care or are afraid to get involved. This answer may be fundamentally true, but it avoids the deeper questions of “what will make the bystanders care more, and what will cause them to overcome their fear, and thus get involved.”

In order for a bystander to take any kind of action, he first needs to have a clear indication that action is needed. While the harassment may seem very obvious to the Target of harassment, to the bystanders the situation is much less clear. If the harassment consisted of a one time event such as a disrespectful comment or unwanted touch, the bystanders may have been completely unaware of it’s occurrence. Even if the harassment involves a continual invasion of the Target’s personal space, it still may not be clear to the bystanders that there is a definite problem.

It is important to examine the event from the male bystanders’ prospective. In general men need a concrete signal that their intervention is needed and wanted. They need to have confirmed in their mind that the Harasser has bad intention. And even after they have confirmed the Harasser’s bad intention, they need a trigger event to cause them to act. Without these elements being present, most likely the bystanders will remain in the internal indecision loop of deny, delay, and do nothing.

What also needs to be understood is that while a situation that requires bystander intervention may seem incredibly obvious to a woman, it may seem harmless to a man. The man may perceive that the Target is in no immediate physical danger, therefore there is no need for him to intervene. The Target on the other hand, may feel threatened and is looking for both moral support and physical backup.

The male bystander is uncertain as to exactly what has or is happening. He is uncertain as to whether there is some type of unknown relationship between the Target and the Harasser. He is uncertain as to whether his offer to intervene will be desired or will be rejected by the Target. He is uncertain of what he should do if he intervenes. He is uncertain as to whether is his intervening will escalate the situation even further. He is uncertain as to how the other bystanders will react to his intervention. All of this uncertainty compounds into a generalize fear of not intervening. As a result, the easiest action to take is no action at all.

It is very easy for a male bystander to take the position that “whatever happened” has “already happened”. Therefore, it is too late to do anything about it anyway. The Target on the other hand may be looking simply for a confirmation of her feelings about the inappropriateness of the behavior from the bystanders.

Male bystanders are more likely to intervene in a situation of street harassment when the Target of harassment makes it clear as to what has happened, why it is a problem, and that bystander intervention is desired. This information will provide the male bystander with confirmation of the Harasser’s bad intention along with the trigger necessary to cause him to act. This information can be provided by an assertive statement from the Target directed to the Harasser stating “Stop harassing me. I don’t like it.” This statement is actionable information and removes a large number of uncertainties.

On a personal note, I believe that the statement “Stop harassing women. No woman likes it.” is less likely to induce male bystander intervention. I feel the reason is that this statement is more of a general reprimand. The Target seems to have the situation under control. Therefore, maybe no male intervention is needed or desired.

In any case, the two main uncertainties that remain are what exactly should the Bystander do, and will his intervention make the situation worse? The first one can be eliminated by an additional command from the Target to the Harasser such as “Leave me alone!”, Move away!”, or “Back off!”. The Bystander now knows that his role is to physically create a barrier between the two, or to add an additional supporting command of his own such as “You heard her, move away from her!”

We are now left with the final uncertainty. The one that all harassers depend upon to keep both targets and bystanders in fear. It is the implicit fear that the harasser may at anytime erupt into violence, that the harasser uses to his advantage and it enables him to gain power and control of the situation initially.

It is for this very reason that it is important to profile and assess the Harasser in order to determine the likelihood of his escalating the situation into violence. It is not true to say that “all harassers are bluffing” because they are all not bluffing. But, when confronted with an assertive Target and supportive bystanders, most harassers are bluffing. When confronted in this manner, the Harasser needs to make a choice, he can either escalate the harassment to threats thereby risking an angry mob of bystanders, incurring criminal penalties, or he can back down.

In the event the Harasser backs down, the Target has won. Both the Target and the Bystander need to stand firm and allow the Harasser to make his exit. Over intervention on the part of either the Target or Bystander may change the dynamic of the situation so much that now the Harasser is the one that feels threatened and reacts. This type of situation should be avoided.

If the Harasser does not back down when faced with both an assertive Target and Bystander, the Harasser may be an Overgrown Bully, Anti-Social Intimidator, or worse. This type of person is comfortable with the use of violence to gain advantage. Therefore, the Target and Bystander need to jointly disengage and exit from the Harasser in an orderly manner. Upon creating a safe distance, it is an excellent opportunity to alert the police as to the nature of the incident.

In summary, male bystanders are not necessary uncaring or afraid. They may simply be uncertain as to when and how to proceed. If they are provided with clear indications and directions, it is much more likely that they will intervene on behalf of the Target in a situation of street harassment.


Defeating street harassment requires a 3 Petal Plan that involves a combination of actions represented by the petals of Society, Targets of Harassment, and Bystanders. While each petal has a different role, they must all work together in order to create a lasting effect.

1. Society must create a culture of intolerance for street harassment in order to eliminate the behavior.

2. Targets of Harassment must learn strategies and methods to directly voice their disapproval when harassed.

3. Bystanders - must learn strategies and methods to intervene and mitigate when observing incidents of harassment.

Every situation of street harassment is different. Each situation requires a different response. But the overall strategy is the same: Society, Targets, and Bystanders need to communicate that street harassment is unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated.


Despite widespread fear of stranger danger, the majority of assaults against women are perpetuated by men that are known to the woman victim. Those that are initiated by strangers typically follow two methods of operation.

The first method is to engage the woman in some type of a verbal interaction in order to get close enough to launch a surprise attack. The second method is to use to launch an “ambush” style attack from concealment. In either case, the element of surprise provides the attacker with a huge advantage. Reducing or eliminating this element of surprise is why “awareness” is critical for self-defense.

In the case of The Pervert, The Creep, and the Crude Oaf, if a man exposes himself, publically masturbates, or calls out an offensive comment to you, he has effectively lost the element of surprise. He no longer has the ability to launch a surprise attack. He has just provided you with a key piece of information. You now know that he has a “bad intention”. By eliminated your uncertainty, he has made it easier for you to act with conviction. Any overtly aggressive movement by him towards you is your Trigger to Act and for you to escalate your defensive response.

The rattle snake can be extremely dangerous to humans. It stalks his prey silently. Therefore, it is not in predatory mode when it is rattling its tail. It is in threatening mode. From a self-defense prospective, now that you have been warned of its presence, you don’t need to run away, you just need to avoid coming too close to it.

The same is true for The Pervert, The Creep, and the Crude Oaf. Their overly threatening actions are inconsistent with enabling a predatory surprise attack. Therefore, while these types of harassers may look and act scary, their behavior is more bark than bite. Since they do not have the element of surprise they are less dangerous than the Opportunistic Predator and the Predatory Stalker who typically disguise their true intentions.


Inner Armor is the confidence, conviction, and competence required to keep you safe. It is based on the synergy of having the confidence that comes from knowledge and planning, the conviction that comes from eliminating all doubt and uncertainty, and the competence that comes from preparation and training. Inner Armor can be represented by a 3 Petal Plan. It is built by simultaneously developing each Petal.

Having Inner Armor means that you have replaced fear with knowledge and power. When harassed, you have the self-assurance to stand up for yourself at the time and place of your choosing. As a bystander to street harassment, you have the empathy to stand up for others who need your help. And as a member of the community, you have the motivation to make a difference in how society views and responds street harassment.