'They started shouting at me about my weight at first'
PORTLAND, Ore. - Folks are using Twitter and Tumblr to get the word out about a woman who was harassed about her appearance while she on her way home from the grocery store.
Olivia, who did not want her last name publicized, recently moved and thought she had left the rough part of town behind.
"I love the sense that when I have a visitor, for once they come to my apartment and they are overwhelmed," she said. "It's like 'oh, wow, Olivia lives in a nice place.' "
But now she's wondering if her new neighborhood isn't just as bad.
That's because Tuesday evening, Olivia was accosted on the sidewalk - just steps away from her building on Southwest Stark Street. It was a simple trip home from the store - she said she was carrying heavy bags of groceries when a group of young men, at least six of them, started yelling at her and calling her names. She said they shouted insults about her weight and race and one of the men hit her in the shoulder and another threw a can at the back of her head.
"They started shouting at me about my weight at first and I thought 'I'm just going to ignore them because I don't want to agitate them,' " she said.
But ignoring them didn't change anything - Olivia said the young men continued to harass her and she fought back tears trying to get away from them.
"You never like to think of yourself as being the extreme," Olivia said. "You're so fat that people are going to attack you on the street. You're so dark that people are going to comment on it. You're so the extreme that someone has to comment and do something about it."
Surveillance photos show the men yelling outside the glass doors of Olivia's building just before they started in on her. She posted the photos on Tumblr, some friends posted them on Twitter and her story has gone viral. Olivia is hoping someone will recognize the men in the photos.
"Help me figure out who these people are," she said. "Then maybe they could come to justice and they won't be able to attack somebody else. Or they'll learn that it's not OK."
Police said if caught, the men could face charges ranging from harassment to assault.
Meanwhile, Olivia said she is thinking about carrying pepper spray or something else to protect herself.