Taking Back My Power: My Floral Dress

On my way to run a HOLLA workshop.

On my way to run a HOLLA workshop.

Trigger warning for talk of sexual assault.

I have a dress that I like to wear when I go to Hollaback! Boston events. I’ve worn this dress to facilitate several workshops and to an event or two. On the surface, this makes sense, because the dress is Hollaback! colors and fits with my personal style very well. But there is more to the story about why I wear this particular dress when I do work for Hollaback! Boston. You see, I was sexually assaulted at a club while wearing this dress.

I was standing at a bar, trying to order a drink, when I felt something against my leg. I moved over slightly and didn’t think much of it, as the club was very crowded. But then I felt it again. I turned around and there was a man standing behind me, trying to shove his crotch up under my dress. I could feel his erection against my leg. I screamed at him to go away and he did. I was shaken up but it was my friend’s birthday and I didn’t want the incident to ruin my night.

The night of the assault.

The night of the assault.

Later that night I was dancing with my friends when I felt someone come up behind me again. This time the man had his penis out and was attempting to penetrate me under my dress. I tried to tell  my friends what was happening but they couldn’t really hear me over the music. I freaked out and ran off of the dance floor. One of my friends followed me outside and I told her what had happened. We went back in to find security so that I could identify him and hopefully have him kicked out of the club. But when I told security my story they told me that there was nothing they could do and that I was making too big of a deal out of it. “It’s not like he was able to get it in.” I was LIVID. I left the club in tears and sobbed the whole way home.

Today, I refuse to let the dress be tainted with memories of that night. I wear that dress as a way of taking back my body, my power, and my wardrobe. I wear that dress while I do work to help end street harassment and empower women as a “fuck you” to the man that assaulted me. I’ve never mentioned to the audience the story behind my dress and the reason why I’m wearing it as I stand before them, but I’m sharing it here. If you come to one of our events in the future and you see me wearing my pink floral dress, you’ll know– I’m refusing to be silent or to let the patriarchy keep me down.

And that’s the story behind my favorite floral dress and why I wear it when I do.

-Britni

Have you taken our three-minute survey on the state of Boston’s streets? Please do, and share it with your networks – the more we know, the better we can serve our city!

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We actively denounce the notion that street harassment is culturally accepted and that victims somehow "deserve" it. Through raising awareness and sharing experiences, we hope to put an end to catcalling, groping, stalking, public masturbation, assaults, racial slurs, and other forms of street harassment. Because we believe we have the power to create a world where we can feel hot, confident, and badass, while still feeling safe!

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  1. […] being active bystanders in the face of harassment! Their blog was very active this week, with a personal post from Site Director Britni about reclaiming a dress that she was groped in. They also introduced the […]

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