Badass Twitter activist Mikki Kendall created the hashtag #FirstHarassed to open up the conversation about when women first begin to experience sexual harassment. Unsurprisingly, the phrase quickly went viral; also unsurprisingly, harassment starts early for most girls. Ugh.

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The anecdotes that have been accumulating on Twitter are substantiated by recent research from Hollaback! and the organization's survey on street harassment — the biggest and most international one to date. Some of their discoveries include:

  • Over 80% of Argentinian, Polish, and British women experienced sexual harassment before they were 17.
  • “The majority of women, globally, experience their first street harassment during puberty,” which the survey defines as age 11 to 17.
  • “Over 50% of women in 22 countries report being groped or fondled.” 

Of course, trolls also showed up to add their two cents to the online discussion. One guy, for example, claimed that women just needed to “speak up” and then those uncomfortable situations could have been avoided. As @WizKhalawya smartly responded, “They could also be avoided by, uh, grown men not sexually harassing pre-pubescent children.”

This (mostly) supportive online gathering of women reminds us that street harassment isn’t just happening to our sisters and friends every day, but also to the children in our lives. Rape culture begins early. It also reminds us that there’s no place that harassment doesn’t happen. From a babysitter’s house to a junior high paper route, anywhere can be a site where girls and women can fall privy to unwanted sexual attention.

Add your own story to the mix, and read many more, here

Images via Tatyana Fazlalizadeh & Twitter

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