My sons ask if a man has ever hurt me. Not really, I lie | Hadley Freeman

Living in fear of harassment is a universal female experience. This is my own story, in 10 parts

A recent YouGov survey found that 86% of women aged 18-24 in the UK have been sexually harassed. This statistic shocked me: did the other 14% not understand the question? To live in fear of harassment or assault is such a universal female experience that many of us don’t even think about it, having learned to accept it from an absurdly early age. It doesn’t break you but it shapes you, like a rock face getting battered by strong waves. This is my own story, in 10 parts.

Aged seven: my friends and I are in the park when a bush next to us trembles. A man climbs out holding his penis towards us, as if he’s offering a special on the menu. This is the first time I’ve seen a penis, and it is disgusting and terrifying, an impression it takes decades to shake.

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