Tag Archives: creepers

How To Avoid Creepers In The Gym

24 Oct

As a fitness instructor, nothing infuriates me more than hearing stories of women getting creeped on in the gym.

NOT OKAY. And you don’t have to take it. This is not a fact of life. This is harassment.

The gym is a place where you should feel safe, supported and empowered. If that’s not how you feel at your gym, it may be time to shop around.

Please consider the following:

1) There is absolutely never an excuse for you to tolerate harassment when you are PAYING for services. In a gym setting, it is the management’s JOB to keep you safe and make you feel welcome.

2) If it feels creepy, it is creepy. Don’t waste your time and energy playing the, “Is it in my head? Maybe he’s trying to be nice…” game. Life is short. You are busy. You know a creeper when you see one and it’s not your mission in life to take care of their feelings.

3) Businesses should have sexual harassment policies in place to protect both their employees and their customers. At my , our instructors watch to make sure that students treat one another with respect. When students approach any of us with concerns about classmates’ behavior, we take immediate action to deal with the situation in a way that makes the person who has been harassed the most comfortable. Usually this has involved having a conversation with the person whose behavior is inappropriate.

Once, a young man tried to bond with one of our male kickboxing instructors by saying, “I’m only here to pick up girls. I tried it before with yoga but that didn’t work out so I thought I’d give this a try.” The instructor firmly stated that the women at our studio were here to work out and that they were not interested in that kind of attention. He explained that “pick up” behavior is distracting, uncomfortable and inappropriate in this setting. The young man stopped attending classes shortly after that, and we were 100% satisfied with the outcome. We would rather lose one customer than have several people feeling uncomfortable.

Steps to take if you experience creeping or other harassment at your gym or class:

1) Report the incident to the instructor/manager. Ask if they have a harassment policy. If not, be clear about what you would like to see happen from this action. “Will someone from the gym please talk to this person and ask him not to stare at other members? Please let me know when that conversation has happened.”

If the behavior continues…

2) Try again. “You know, on (date of last complaint) someone told me they would address this situation. Did that happen? I’m still experiencing harassment and that’s not something I should have to deal with as a paying customer.”

If the behavior continues…

3) Last chance. “I’ve now complained twice about this issue and it has not been resolved. If this is not addressed I will be leaving this gym (and telling everyone I know exactly why I left).”

OR you could take the shortcut and deal directly with the creeper.

“Hey! Stop staring at me.”

 

 

 

Women and Drinking and Creepers, Oh My!

12 Jul

Not only are drunken creepers unpleasant, they can be dangerous, especially when our own inhibitions and judgment are impaired by alcohol and other drugs.

90% of all campus rapes occur when alcohol has been used by either the assailant or the victim. (, 2007)

Alcohol is, in fact, the most widely used predatory drug. Think about everyone you know who has been sexually assaulted or raped and ask yourself if they or the perpetrator were using alcohol or other drugs. I don’t know about you, but in my social network the statistic looks more like 100%.

Yes, more widely talked about drugs like GHB and Rohypnol are still an issue, but only in about 3% of cases. More commonly, we need to be watching the use of alcohol (present in 55-63% of victims) and marijuana (present in 30% of victims).

While binge drinking is harmful in so many ways (physically, psychologically, socially), I don’t feel I can convince the devoted drinkers to drink less with a blog post so instead…

Here are some tips for partying safely:

  • Use the buddy system. When you go out, make sure you have friends who you trust (and who are deserving of your trust) to be your better judgement if you overdo it. It’s a good idea to have a designated sober person even if nobody is driving. Do NOT separate from your group. You may have learned from experience that looking out for your drunkest friends can be a thankless job (I’ve had to physically fight with friends to keep them from going home with strangers) but it beats the alternative.
  • Resist the drunken “hook up”. First of all, you know it’s not going to be very good even in the best scenario (you may not even remember it well), and the worst scenario is that it may turn into sexual assault. One of my best friends had to stop one of his friends from going home with a creeper and he reasoned with them “If you two really think you have something here, then why don’t you exchange numbers and get together when you are sober.” Wise words.
  • Don’t let a man walk you (or your friend) home unless it is someone you trust deeply. In Madison a few years back, a young woman was kidnapped and violently murdered by a man who claimed to know her. The woman was drunk to the point where she was not fully functioning and this man told the bartender he was her friend and he would get her home safe. He was never found after the murder. I’ve also heard of more than one case in which a “friend” walked a woman home, then forced his way into her house and raped her.

I helped plan this ad campaign when I was a student! Remember: a person cannot give consent if they are incoherent or incapacitated by alcohol.

Now, to address The Drunk Creeper. Sometimes he is overtly predatory, but sometimes misguided nice guys who lack social skills can get a little creepy too when they get a little liquid courage.

From U of Minnesota's brilliant "The Other Hangover" Campaign

Things to keep in mind when dealing with drunken creepers:

  • Drunk people don’t recognize subtle social cues. I imagine I am talking to a cross between a naughty child/dog and someone who doesn’t hear very well. I use a firm voice, simple wording, and a clear message. “NO. Leave me alone NOW. I have NO interest in you now or EVER.” or “STOP. TOUCHING. HER. NOW. or I will get a bouncer to throw you OUT.” Not only are they not offended, they often still seem confused, like they think this might be a flirtatious game, so you may have to follow up with, “I am NOT joking. I am SERIOUS. Leave NOW. Bye!.. BYE! (*shooing away motions*)” etc.
  • Don’t try to reason with drunk people. If they try to argue for continued creeping, do not engage! A trick is to put your hand out firmly in front of their face like you are saying “STOP.” Drunk people can’t help but to stop when they see this, at least momentarily. In the pause, cut them off and resume assertive communication from the step above. “STOP arguing. GO AWAY NOW.” Or you can go away, if that seems like the better option.
  • Your friend may have an inner creep that comes out when he is drunk. Just because someone is a nice guy normally, doesn’t mean he gets a free pass to creep when drunk. Here you may take a slightly more compassionate stance with something like, “You’re not acting like yourself, and I don’t like this side of you. (Name the behavior:) You are being rude and you are making me feel uncomfortable. Let’s talk again when you are sober.” Then leave the situation.

How To Be Polite Without Inviting Unwanted Attention

2 May

You know the scenario well. You are going about your business– maybe waiting at a bus stop, maybe working out at the gym, maybe buying a drink at a bar—and you see (or feel) him coming a mile away: the creeper. Maybe this is a random creeper. Maybe this is a creeper you deal with regularly. The point is, you have no desire to enter into conversation with this person but he is not reading the signs you are sending. The situation is uncomfortable and embarrassing at a minimum, intimidating and worrisome at worst. What do you do? You don’t want to be rude, so maybe you try to let him down gently. When that doesn’t work, maybe you make an excuse to leave, or say as little as possible and avoid eye contact hoping he’ll take the hint and just go away.

This is one of the most commonly raised issues in my women’s self defense classes. We as women have largely been raised to be polite, to put the needs of others before our own, and to avoid confrontation (or else be condemned forever to wear the scarlet B!). My mother (Mary Murphy Edwards: 7th degree black belt/co-founder of SAFE Class/totally wise and powerful woman!) always used to say about politeness:

“If you are a kind, polite person—that is a strength! You are a good person for being considerate of others. Because you are a good person, you deserve to feel safe and comfortable!”

Creepers recognize your body language. Listen to your gut: If it feels creepy, it IS creepy! Creeping is an aggressive act. This person is entering your physical and social space uninvited and ignoring your signs that they are not welcome.

The answer is shockingly simple: Ask for what you want! You can do it as politely as you please. “Excuse me, I came here to work out so, unless you have a specific question about the gym facilities, I’d thank you to let me get back to it.” Or… “Wow, as you can see, I’m with my child right now and I teach him/her not to talk to strangers. I’m sure you can understand why I need to set the example right now. Have a nice day!” Or… “Oh, gee, that was a pretty good line! Unfortunately I’m not at all interested in talking to you right now, so in the interest of saving us both some time and awkwardness, I’m going to smile and walk away. Oh, and please don’t follow me. Thanks!”

Ok I’m getting a little silly here, but seriously– if you can’t leave or don’t want to leave, you need to ask the creeper to leave you alone.  Here are some specific strategies:

1)      I think ___, I feel ___, I want ___.

Ex: “ I think you are standing way too close to me. I feel uncomfortable and I want you to leave me alone now.”

2)      Name the behavior.

Ex: “I see that you are trying to come on to me, but I’m not interested. Bye!”

3)      “No” as a complete sentence.

Ex: “No.” (If they persist: “I said no and my answer is not going to change, no matter what you say, so please leave me alone now.”)

Body Language And Consent

23 Mar

Thomas from wrote an excellent explaining new research that demonstrates that a non-verbal no is as clear as a verbal no.

This is particularly important when we consider the trauma response to sexual assault. An assault triggers the fight, flight or freeze response. I know I talk a lot about fighting, as a martial arts instructor, but the reality is that in that moment of intense stress, many victims freeze. Just because someone does not fight back does not mean that they gave consent. It also does not mean they deserved to be assaulted or were responsible for the attack in any way. Yet, in the few rape cases that go to trial, the most common defense is to assert that the encounter was consensual. This defense often focuses on what the victim did not do (ex. fight back, say no clearly or loudly or believably enough, etc.). Unfortunately, what they did do (in terms of non-verbal communication) would be hard to recreate in court. This new research is just one more piece of evidence supporting the fact that victims should be believed and that creepers know exactly what they are doing.

Sisterhood– There’s Safety in Numbers

21 Feb

I wanted to write about sisterhood, because it is very important to me. When I teach women’s self defense, this subject always comes up. Some of the most dangerous situations for women– emotionally and physically– are social situations. Parties, bars/clubs, work. These are the places where women face harassment and intimidation on a regular basis. In a world where women are bombarded with attacks of many kinds (disrespect, invasion of personal space, objectification, unrealistic body ideals, etc.), sisterhood is one of the most dependable defenses we have.

When I was in college, I was standing outside a party once with some of my girlfriends. We were chatting and sort of dancing to the music we could still hear coming from inside the house. Out of nowhere, this giant drunk creeper stumbled towards me with a creepy look and a “Heeeey…” I was not interested in talking to him and I know how that song and dance goes so I calmly replied, “You know, I’m talking with my girlfriends right now. I’m not interested.” He stepped closer and slurred, “But you were moving your hips…” I put my hand up and stepped back saying, “Yes, I was, and that was not an invitation of any kind.” He looked confused for a moment, then when he realized what had just happened he said, “BITCH,” and turned to walk away. Before I had time to process what he had said, one of my most petite friends busted out of our group to confront him. She tilted her face all the way up to look at him (he was literally 3 times her size) and she full out screamed in his face, “How DARE you speak to her like that?! She was PERFECTLY POLITE to you! You should be ASHAMED of yourself!! GET OUT OF HERE!!!” His eyes just about bugged out of his head and he looked at all of us looking at him and then he took her advice and got out of there. I may have had my physical safety under control, but my sister took care of me emotionally in that moment.

Another wonderful friend of mine moved to New York to teach, and she told me that one of the things she missed most about home were her girlfriends. One night she was out with some of her female coworkers at a bar and she had to brush off a creeper who, on top of the usual creepy stuff, said something really racist to her. Not only did the other women fail to stand up for her, but one of them started flirting with the creeper saying things like, “I don’t know what her problem is.”

What a difference. If my friend had said to me, “Wow, you were kind of bitchy to him,” instead of telling him off, how would I have felt? Unfortunately women still do this to each other. What is stopping us from forming sisterhood?

As I got thinking (and talking with some of my sisters) I realized it can be difficult to put your finger on exactly what sisterhood means. I Googled it, and most of the results had to do with or . These books (later movies) as well as the HBO series do seem to capture that intangible spirit of sisterhood. But that form of supportive female friendship is what one of my friends called sisterhood “with a little ‘s’.” Sisterhood with a big “S” has to do with Sexism with a big “S”. This has to do with systemic structures of inequality, not individual interactions.

Me with some of my fab soul sisters

So what does Sisterhood mean?

I’ve learned a lot about sisterhood from girlfriends like the ones in the stories above. I turned to some of my oldest friends for advice as I was drafting this post, and as usual they had some brilliant things to say. In particular, my dear who taught me not to use the B word questioned making a distinction between the big “S” and little “s”:

To me, they’re absolutely intertwined – the impulse to be kind to a friend or go out to lunch with a group of women IS about solidarity and it does fly in the face of sexist societal structures that tell us we can’t/shouldn’t trust each other, that other women are bitchy and we should turn to our boyfriends for truly fulfilling companionship. I mean, the personal is political, right?

The kind of female friendship represented by Sex and the City or any of those other cultural examples has deep roots in history, and when women carve out a safe physical and emotional sphere together, it leads to systemic change. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were best friends; they spent hours writing letters and discussing strategy while Susan changed Elizabeth’s babies. The consciousness raising circles of the second wave womens’ movement started as bridge clubs and book groups. I talked to a group of 80 year old women from the Dane County League of Women Voters who told me they originally joined the movement because it gave them a chance to talk to adults, to other women, during the day while they stayed home with their kids. So for my money, kinship among women is revolutionary on a systemic level, even more so today when we’re inundated with reality TV depicting “catfighting” and stories of women trying to tear each other down.

The that best describes what I’m after here is:

The solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences or concerns.

Now that is interesting. Solidarity. I happen to be located in Madison, WI and working 5 blocks down from the capitol in the middle of probably the largest and most historic we’ve seen here since the .

50,000 people protested outside the capitol

It has brought tens of thousands of people to the capitol day and night for the past eight days (today is day nine). My younger sister, actually, has slept in the capitol every night since this thing started. She’s an organizer. Anyway, people are calling this an “ideological war” or a “war on working families.” It is pretty bad out there. Understandably, people are upset, so they have banded together in solidarity to do something about it. I’ve been to the capitol for the protests, and it is truly amazing to see the sheer numbers.

Protestors at the Wisconsin capitol

Meanwhile, many journalists and bloggers are commenting on a that is happening at the same time. Even worker’s rights in Wisconsin has been called a In other news, the House of Representatives just voted to cut funding for , which, in addition to family planning services, offers preventative health care to millions of women who would otherwise be unable to afford it. (No federal funding goes towards abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or immediate danger to the mother.) It is in the hands of the Senate now.

Let me just be clear, before continuing, that I am not trying to make any sort of political statement about abortion. Planned Parenthood is an organization that focuses primarily on providing information and resources that prevent unwanted pregnancy. No unwanted pregnancy, no abortion. Yes, some clinics do provide abortion services but that is a very small part of what they do as an organization. They educate people to make informed decisions about their bodies, they provide access to contraception, and they provide check ups and preventative health care like STI and cancer screenings. I don’t think I’m being overly political when I say that Planned Parenthood is an organization that has devoted 90 years to protecting women’s health and safety and, as a woman, I like to know they are here for us.

Are women hitting the streets? Are we even our US senators? Do we recognize that even if we don’t use Planned Parenthood’s services, that we have “shared experiences, conditions or concerns” with women who do, just by the nature of being women? Flying in the face of this kind of Sisterhood, I know of at least who is working to tear Planned Parenthood down. Lila Rose is a 22-year-old anti-abortion activist who has led a smear campaign against the organization. I understand being opposed to abortion. I don’t understand throwing millions of women under the bus to further your own ideology. Especially from another woman.

When I was younger I would have hated that woman. Honestly, I have to fight the instinct now. One thing I have learned about Sisterhood is that part of it means not turning against other women, even when they do things you really don’t agree with or understand. That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree or fight for what you believe in. It just means that it’s important to have compassion for other women, no matter how different they may seem, because at the end of the day you and she face a lot of the exact same experiences. I try to have compassion for women with whom I disagree, like Lila Rose. I only wish she would have more compassion for the women and families who will be left with no back up plan if Planned Parenthood is destroyed.

I guess I have to end this the way I started it– with questions. What would the women who fought for our rights throughout history think of us today? Women came together over one issue after another to fight for the common good. When I look at the shockingly high rates of sexual assault against women in this country, I know the fight is not over. But where is the Sisterhood? Why is “feminism” a dirty word? Why do women disbelieve other women who report rape? Why do women call other women words that are designed to keep women down? I’d like to see women come together again around issues that affect us all. Poverty, racism, homophobia, domestic violence, etc.– If it affects some women, it affects all women. Why? Because we are sisters. So let’s act like it.

Self Defense and “The B Word”

10 Feb

So much of self defense involves standing up for ourselves in social situations when that creeper won’t leave us alone. Can you guess the reasons why women often don’t?

  • “I don’t want to be mean.” (You’re not being mean, he is.)
  • “I don’t want to be rude.” (You’re not being rude, he is.)
  • “I don’t want to create an awkward situation.” (…You see where I”m going with this.)

All these answers and more boil down to a deeper issue that most women don’t want to say out loud:

“I don’t want to be a bitch.”

Now, why would a woman fear being a bitch when she could in the same moment fear being disrespected, intimidated and having her space invaded? I’ll tell you exactly why. Because when you draw a firm boundary with a creeper that says, “No, you are not welcome in my space,” he will either leave with his tail between his legs OR your worst fears will be confirmed. His charm will evaporate, his face will contort, he will look at you like you are a cockroach and he will spit, “BITCH!” right in your face. Even worse, he may start announcing this to anyone who will listen. “Look at that bitch over there…”

When this happens, if you are not prepared for it, you will feel your heart drop into your stomach. Your skin will crawl and you will want to disappear. It is a horrible feeling, which is why most women will do anything to avoid it.

Do not despair! You can defend yourself from the B word, and, in case this wasn’t made clear: You are NOT a bitch.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was a smart lady. She’s pretty much beat me to my whole point in one powerful thought… but since you asked– I’ll elaborate.

“Bitch” in a self defense context is code for: “You won, and being beat by a girl is bad for my macho reputation.”

Keeping this in mind, consider the following.

3 Reasons You Should Not Feel Bad That Creeper Called You a Bitch:

  1. This word has nothing to do with you. It’s about him. He’s embarrassed and he’s lashing out.  You could be the sweetest, nicest person in the universe and this jerk would say the same thing.
  2. By flatly refusing to internalize his attempt to put you down, you win FOREVER. That was the best shot he had at making you feel bad, and if that didn’t work, he’s got nothin’. Plus, you know already that he feels bad if he’s resorting to the B word, so win-win for you!
  3. You ditched the creeper– sweet! The main point is, this guy was creeping you out. Now he’s peaced out with no harm done to you, so long as you remember Eleanor’s advice.  All things considered, that was pretty easy.

Now that you’ve thought about how damaging this word can be to women even to the point of keeping them in physical danger, I hope you will consider one more step in taking this power out of oppressive hands. Please consider dropping the B word from your vocabulary when it comes to other women. Sisterhood is still powerful. Why would we use the oppressor’s tools against our sisters? He’s doing a fine job keeping us down without our help.

If you are a woman and you go out dancing, you will likely feel the need to watch your back– literally.

The scene: You are dancing at a bar or club with your friends, having a great time, when all of a sudden you feel someone has creeped up behind you. A man is “grinding” his, ahem, pelvis, into your, ahem, rear end. Sound awkward? Alarming? Disgusting? That’s because it is!! And this happens more than you might think.

Just yesterday I overheard a conversation between two young women describing exactly this.

“…Yeah, we were having so much fun dancing! But then this creepy 40 year old man came up behind me and started grinding on me– well, actually I didn’t see him because I wasn’t gonna turn around and be like, ’Hello!?’, but then my friends pulled me away so it was ok…”

Two main points stand out to me about this.

First, I’ll address the men (and some lesbians, you know who you are):

It is NOT OKAY to touch someone without their consent. It is NOT SEXY to have a stranger “grind” on you without your consent. Finally, GRINDING IS NOT DANCING, and although it can be fun, you should probably get to know someone before you grind your junk on them. Call me crazy.

If you want to impress/charm/romance a woman, or even if you just want to get a woman to notice you, the above strategy is not the way to go. You need to learn how to do 2 things: 1) Dance and 2) ASK someone to dance. Just as I was getting worked up this dancing issue, I was fortunate enough to chat with one of my best friends who had a refreshingly different experience. This young man who she has been flirting with was at a show with her, and he walked up to her and he said, “Do you want to dance?” What a man. He won BIG points for that one. And then, if this wasn’t clear, they danced. They did not “grind”. Don’t know how to dance? Take a class or learn from a friend you trust. It’s a natural form of human expression, and anyone can do it.

Now for the women:

It’s not your fault that men are doing this these days, and we shouldn’t have to constantly be on guard, but if this happens to you (and it can happen to anyone, it has happened to me many times), you have the tools to address the situation.

Remember the woman I overheard? “…well, actually because I wasn’t gonna turn around and be like, ’Hello!?’…”

My question to her– why not? What’s the worst that could happen if you turn around and say, “Hello!?”

This shouldn’t be our responsibility, and I wish things were different, but as it is– if you do nothing when a man does this to you, he learns the lesson that it is okay for him to do this to women because there are no consequences of any kind and his little friend gets some over the pants action out of the deal. Now he will go on to do this to other women, because it worked out pretty well for him the first time.

More importantly, how does it feel to stand there and let this happen? My guess is it leaves a lot of women feeling helpless, embarrassed, disgusted, and more. Can you imagine a different reality? What if it looked a little more like this?

Man creeps up behind for an anonymous grind.

Woman: (turns and makes eye contact) “Excuse me?! Do I know you? Don’t you know it is extremely rude to touch someone without asking?!” (walk away)

Personally, I just give ‘em a sharp elbow/eye contact/”Back OFF, buddy!”. Every person is different. To each her own. So think about what seems most natural to you, and if it seems scary to try in real life, practice it in your head or even out loud until you feel confident about what you would say in this situation.

Remember, if someone touches you without your consent and makes you feel creeped out, that is a RED FLAG, even if the person seems attractive in other ways. You can do better. Hold out for the one who asks you to dance.

I don’t like to pick favorites, but if I had to pick a favorite self defense tool for women I might choose eye contact.

One of my kickboxing instructors shared this totally empowering story with me this morning:

A Martial Artist Goes Abroad

This instructor shared with me that she finds she carries herself differently since learning self defense and martial arts. Most recently, she was visiting Turkey with some friends. As they got on board a train together, she noticed that a man who had been giving her a creepy vibe in the station boarded the same car. She started nudging her friend, moving them farther away from this potential creeper, only to find that he closed the distance with every move. (This, for any of you who may not yet realize, should always be a red flag.) Finally she told her friend they had to do something about this creeper. The friend had not noticed him but was willing to follow her suggestion: “We’re going to face him, and we’re going to look at him.” They did and, uncomfortable that the tables had been turned, the man exited at the next stop.

THIS REALLY WORKS!

Here’s another story from a former student, let’s call her Emily…

During a check-in time before a women’s self defense class, I asked if anyone had any relevant experiences to share from the week. Emily, a fairly quiet woman of slight build and big eyes, raised her hand. “Last week after class,” she said, “I was riding home on the bus and playing a puzzle game on my Nintendo DSi. It was late, so the bus started clearing out. At one stop, a man got on and sat directly next to me, even though there were plenty of open seats. He turned to me and said, (insert creepy attitude here) ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ At first I didn’t know what to do but then I remembered that you said to look them in the eye, so I turned and I stared him in the eye– but then I didn’t know what to say so I just said (loudly) ‘I”m playing a puzzle game on my Nintendo DSi!’ And he seemed surprised and he said, ’Well I guess I’d better let you get to it,’ and he moved to another seat.”

These are some of my favorite kinds of self defense stories. We know that most of sexual assault is committed by someone the victim knows, and that “stranger danger” is often blown out of proportion. Still, I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t (repeatedly) had the experience of being “creeped on” by strangers and felt powerless to stop it. What I hope women will see from these stories is that simple choices like making eye contact, standing up straight and speaking in a clear voice can put the power immediately back in your hands.

If you have a story you’d like to share, please comment or e-mail me at atmurphy[at]villarismadison[dot]com.

Keeper or “Creeper”?

23 Nov

85% of sexual assault is perpetrated by a friend, acquaintance or intimate partner. So how do we know who to trust? How can we tell the difference between flirtation and victimization? Here are some helpful guidelines:

1. Flirting feels fun. Creeping feels creepy.

It may sound obvious, but I often see women tolerating flirtation or relationships with “creepers” because they can’t understand why this person makes them feel creeped out.

Reasons we’re surprised they are creepy–

  • They are physically attractive
  • They are friends with our friends
  • They have not seemed creepy in the past
  • They are educated and/or have a good job
  • They do not seem physically aggressive
  • They are charming and complimentary
  • They offer to buy us things
  • Etc.

To put it simply: If it feels creepy, it is creepy. Listen to your instincts and avoid taking this situation further.

2. Respectful people respect what we say with our words AND our bodies.

If someone respects and cares about you, they will not touch you if you don’t want them to. They will listen to what you say, but you probably won’t need to say anything.  Why? A respectful person notices  if you tense up at their touch and immediately pulls away, whether or not you say you feel uncomfortable. Beyond that–they will not make you feel bad or guilty for not wanting to be touched.

Respectful people say:

“Can I kiss you?”

“Are you okay?”

“You don’t have to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.”

Disrespectful people say:

“Come on, don’t you like me?”

“What’s wrong with you? Other women like this. Loosen up!”

Disrespectful touch is often used to exert physical control. Examples of this kind of touch include:

  • Leading you around by a hand on the small of your back
  • Holding you in place with an arm around your shoulder
  • Pulling you along by grabbing your wrist
  • Pushing you up against a wall
  • Picking you up and/or carrying you somewhere

These kinds of touch might look like “play”, but the important thing to remember is the context. Does it feel fun to YOU? If yes, then you are fine. If it makes you feel scared, embarrassed, out of control, belittled, or otherwise uncomfortable, then you can be sure you are being disrespected and you deserve better.

3. Healthy affection makes you feel wonderful about yourself. Unhealthy affection attacks your self esteem.

Sincere and caring compliments sound like:

“You look nice/pretty/beautiful/wonderful/etc.”

“I feel really lucky/happy/honored to be spending time with you.”

“You know what I like most about you? You make me laugh/You challenge me intellectually/You are so caring/etc.”

Unhealthy “compliments” are often degrading or controlling:

“Ooh, lookin’ good! I bet you really know how to work it.”

“You can’t wear that in public! All the men are going to want your body, and I want you all to myself!”

The good news is that there are a lot of wonderful caring people out there who will love you AND treat you with respect and caring. Don’t settle for anything less!

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