I live in Washington DC and go to school in Cleveland, but unfortunately neither of these places has functioning HollaBack sites, so I hope you'll accept this anyway. Chicago is only 3 hours from Cleveland...
I was living in Little Italy last year, my senior year. While I'd experienced some street harassment in previous years, this was the worst.
My roommate and I once had two guys follow us down the street for five blocks, just yelling at us about our butts and telling us to slow down and come talk to them! It got so that I was afraid to wear shorts or a tank top, despite last summer being unusually hot and long in Cleveland (and I worked in the Printmaking department at my school, which was like a greenhouse) for fear of being followed down the street or having something shouted at me. Some guy unloading a truck once shouted out at me "Hey, who're you supposed to be, Lara Croft?" I'm usually a friendly person, liking to smile at strangers and such, but I've had it backfire at me so often that I don't dare do so anymore.
The worst was this one older guy, in his fifties probably, who worked as a doorman at one of the Italian restaurants on Mayfield that I had to walk past to get home. I smiled at him one day, when I was in a good mood, and he took it as an invitation to start talking to me. I stopped and chatted with him a little about the weather and then moved on. Every single time I passed him after that he felt the need to come over and talk to me, sometimes physically insinuating himself into my space in order to force me to stop. He even grabbed my arm once, out of the blue, and on several occasions tried kissing my hand. He'd always tell me in a really patronizing, 'talking to a child' kind of way, how beautiful I was and how much my smile made his day. I started taking the back way as often as I could, when I didn't have so much to carry that it was really inconvenient.
Near the end of the semester (he knew I was a college student) he started getting really pushy. One day he stopped me and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I said "yes, I have a fiance." He congratulated me. A few days later, he stopped me again and said "God forbid he should get cold feet at the altar, but if he did... I'd marry ya!" Yeah. Should my fiance abandon me, I REALLY need a creepy old guy my father's age as a replacement! 'Cuz you know, I'm just not a valid woman without a marital prospect! I walked away. Fast. I told one of my roommates about him once, and she said "Yeah, that guy's pretty creepy...I usually go the back way or ignore him." He even tried catcalling me in front of my parents a few times... ugh... He is one thing I do not miss about college.
It feels really good to get that all out. Senior year was stressful.
~Submitted by Lisa