From annoying whistling and catcalls to unwanted touching and stalking, street harassment is a serious problem, one that can become even more distressing when you feel like there’s nothing you can do to stop it. This might help. On Tuesday, Stop Street Harassment (SSH) joined forces with Defend Yourself and Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to launch a 24/7 hotline aimed at helping victims of this gender-based violence.
The first-ever national Street Harassment Hotline will provide confidential support to those impacted by this form of violence and intimidation in both Spanish and English.
“Street harassment can be really upsetting and many people are unsure what to do about it or who to turn to for help. This may be doubly true for persons who are not native English speakers. We want to be sure that both Spanish and English speakers can find the help they need on the street harassment hotline in the language that is most comfortable for them,” said Holly Kearl, the founder and executive director of SSH, a nonprofit dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide.
Both SSH and Defend Yourself trained RAINN staff, who also operate the National Sexual Assault Hotline, on how to assist callers to the Street Harassment Hotline who are wondering if or how they should respond to the harasser, what their rights are under law and how to offer emotional support.
The issue of street harassment is of particular importance to Latinas, who report experiencing higher rates than many other racial or ethnic groups.
“While street harassment affects persons from many demographics, a 2014 national survey on street harassment showed that Hispanic people face some of the highest rates of street harassment, especially compared with white people,” Kearl said. “Most notably, Hispanic respondents were more likely than any other racial demographic to say they had experienced street harassment before age 17. So it is important that the people most affected by street harassment can find help in the language they know best. Street harassment is already upsetting enough without having to also worry about language barriers when seeking help.”
Call the Street Harassment Hotline toll-free at 855-897-5910 or use its secure online IM chat option, which will be available on August 10.