Street harassment has become a reality of our society, that it seems 'normal'. We are angry, and perplexed as to what to do with this anger. Meet Hannah Michelle, who's channeling all her anger and energy to illustrate numerous accounts of catcalling, victim blaming, and harassment that women are subjected to, on a regular basis.

According to Huffington PostHannah Michelle is a 23-year-old illustrator, whose project, 'Cats Calling Back' invites people to share their accounts of harassment. She illustrates these accounts in a peculiar style, that are jarring and empowering enough.

“the first time I was exposed to harassment on the street, I was 12 years old. I was walking in my home town on a busy street with some girlfriends of mine. we were walking to an ice cream shop. we were honked at, whistled at, and hollered at by not one, not two, not three, but four vehicles containing adult men. It’s about a 10 minute walk from my house. I haven’t walked to that ice cream spot since.” – @originalilly Send your stories to [email protected] or DM me! Thank you everyone for your support and for sharing your stories! • • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #streetharassment #harassmentstories #notyourbaby #timesup #metoo #femaleempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerment #catscallingback #notyourbaby #catcalling #catcallingisnotacompliment #ibelieveher

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New York-based illustrator, Hannah, posted her first illustration after Donald Trump won the elections in 2016. According to Huffington Post, it was a portrait of a young woman with “I am a powerful woman” written above it. 

On receiving positive response from her followers on Instagram, Hannah was encouraged to channel her anger regarding predicament of women in society into illustrating the living hell out of them, so that people know, this is what women endure. An empowering act, really, this also helps victims process their trauma.

“The summer after my freshman year in college, I had my first internship in LA. I took the bus to and from work every day. So far I had only had a few looks, but I had never been touched. One morning, I was sitting in a window seat and an older man came and sat next to me. Which was pretty normal since it was rush hour and the bus was filling up. He read his newspaper while I listened to music. All seemed normal. When my stop was coming up, I tapped him on the shoulder and told him, “This is my stop.” He nodded and smiled, but made no effort to move. As the bus started to come to a stop, I made my best effort to climb over him without touching. The old man took BOTH hands and cupped my butt. Once I got into the aisle, I looked at him in shock and then at everyone around me. People were looking, but didn’t say a word. I ran off the bus, worked all day, and cried when I got home and told my mom.” - @natalieeeeblair I’m trying to figure out the best way to present these stories. I know I definitely don’t want to draw the perpetrators or give them faces. My new take on it was to just draw the woman in a frame of some sort to center her and bring power to her, instead of presenting her as just scared. Let me know what you think. • • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #empoweredwomen #womenempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #femaleempowerment #catcallingisnotacompliment #catcalling #catcallcollective #stopstreetharassment #harassmentstories #womenarestrong #feminist #feminism #sexualassault #mybodymyrules

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On deciding to take up the project, 'Cat Calling Back', Hannah told Huffington Post,

"Shock, society, and obligation often force us to move on so quickly after events like this … and we deny that trauma its full time to exist... We deny ourselves proper time to heal. We are just forced to accept it, normalize it, and pretend it doesn’t hurt. But many of us don’t want to accept it or normalize it, and we are hurting from it in our emotional, mental, and social lives.”

“About a year ago I was traveling home from NYC on the LIRR and I sat down by myself in a two seat! I looked up and accidentally made eye contact with a man (maybe early 30s?) who quickly rushed through the aisle to grab the seat next to me. There were PLENTY of empty seats around, so I definitely found this suspicious but I let it go. A few minutes later this man fell "asleep" but his right hand kept wandering onto my legs and getting increasingly closer to my vagina. I felt really embarrassed and extremely nervous, but I thought maybe he was asleep and really had no idea that his hand was in an extremely inappropriate place. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt...sometimes I feel as women we are SUPPOSED to give men the benefit of the doubt...but I kept convincing myself that what he was doing wasn't deliberate. I pushed his hand to the side and he didn't even budge. I stared to panic that maybe he wasn't really sleeping after all. A few minutes later his hand wandered in between my legs AGAIN and I started to panic. I didn't know what to do, he was a big guy and I didn't want to cause a scene. His hand was on my left thigh, then slowly kept moving until it was directly between my legs. My face was red and my blood was RUSHING!! I was really freaking out. I felt so vulnerable and stupid...I saw a man across from me giving me a strange look and I wish he would’ve said something. I pushed his hand away AGAIN and he didn't budge. I didn't get up to move my seat because I felt so scared and frozen? I was trying to process what had happened but I was just in shock. A few stops later the guy next to me got up and off the train...he didn't even look at me. I just keep remembering that moment we accidentally made eye contact and this scary smirk he had on his face. I was sexually assaulted on my way home from school and UGH I could scream thinking about it.” - Maria @thesugarmag • • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #harassmentstories #streetharassment

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Her post allows women a space to share their stories. The caption of her posts comprise of accounts of harassment, cat calling, and victim blaming.

“i have lived in cambridge for a little over a year now, and i’ve luckily had very little experience with street harassment since I have lived here. however, when it does happen, it completely shakes up my mood and my day. i had been in town for two days last week when a construction worker said a few comments about my legs/my butt while i was walking to class. it was nearly ninety degrees out, and i was livid. every time i’m catcalled, i am even more angry than the last. last spring, it was the first warm day and I decided to wear shorts. according to a truck driver across the street, that was his invitation to yell “hot damn baby.” i was terrified to cross, so i b-lined in the opposite direction of my dorm.” - @brit.shipman • • • • #catcallingisnotacompliment #catcalling #femaleempowerment #womenempowerment #streetharassment #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #womanpower #catsagainstcatcalls #empoweredwomen #empowerwomen #done #stopstreetharassment #harassmentstories #womenwhodraw

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The magnitude of these accounts are a signifier to the number of adjustments women make in their lifestyle, way of talking, dressing, sitting and what not. How they have become accustomed to this lifestyle that now it all seems 'normal'.  

If you have a story of street harassment, catcalling, or anything related that you’d like to share, please send me a DM. I want to start collecting stories to illustrate and put out there to validate women, and spread awareness. You can choose to remain anonymous or not. Up to you. This one was a little hard to post for a lot of reasons. It feels personal, it feels scary, and I know women who have had it way worse than I have. But I want to give validity to all the women who have experienced street harassment or sexual assault, no matter how minor you may think it was. • • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #streetharassment #catcallingisnotacompliment #femaleempowerment #womenempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerwomen #sexualassault #feminist #feminism #catcallcollective #harassmentstories

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She told Huffigton Post, that she wants to give proper acknowledgement to these accounts, and that she believes them.

“I want to be able to let each person who shares a story with me be relieved of their burden for just a moment. I want them to know that I am handling their story with the compassion and attention it deserves."

Hannah understands where the insensitivity of people stems from. If a person has not experienced something, that doesn't mean a certain phenomena is baseless. She wants to educate people and provide them clarity, 'for the very well-meaning, lovely, smart, open-minded people in this world who just don’t know', she told Huffington Post.

“I’ve had some horrible experiences in New York. Assaulted, etc. But lately I’ve been so disheartened by the harassment I’ve been getting while running. I’m training for the nyc marathon and literally can’t step out my door without being screamed at. I often run in shorts...because, uh, sweat? Heat? Comfort? And I am SCREAMED at. I’ve been literally called a whore for wearing a crew neck t shirt and running shorts. But mostly it’s catcalling. I love running so much but it’s become so scary in the city. Guys will jump in front of me and block my move, like shadowing me from the front so I can’t move past. They’ll like grab themselves. All that shit. Obviously it could be worse but I’m so frustrated bc running is my world and it’s been the best thing in my life, and it’s like not even safe anymore. I’m actually moving to Ct this weekend, and that was the biggest factor in my decision to do so.” - @k_shilling Send your stories to [email protected] or DM me. Also, I wrote an article about why I’m doing these drawings, and the link is in my bio!• • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #streetharassment #harassmentstories #notyourbaby #timesup #metoo #femaleempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerment #catscallingback #newyork #running #womenwhorun #runnersofinstagram #catcalling #catcallingisnotacompliment

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“The first catcalling experience that I distinctly remember was when I was about 12 or 13. I was leaving my grandparents house late afternoon after a day of swimming. I was dressed in casual shorts and a tank top. The house across the street was being built and was full of construction workers. As I walked out to the car to leave I began hearing whistles and smooching sounds. Boos and hollers as well. They made kissy noises and shouted “hey baby.” I, being the firecracker I am, flipped them off with both hands. I knew at that young age it was inappropriate and it made me mad. Who were they to degrade me like that. Side note: I am tall and was probably already 5’7 at that age, blonde, thin, with a dancer body. I thought “I’m sure they think I’m older than I am.” And then realized it didn’t matter my age. NO WOMEN OF ANY AGE DESERVES TO BE TREATED THAT WAY!” - @feather.rae Send your stories to [email protected] • • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #streetharassment #harassmentstories #notyourbaby #timesup #metoo #femaleempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerment

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“I was at Harlem 125th trying to take a new route uptown. It was crowded. I was wearing skinny jeans and heels. And I felt stares. I saw about three different guys looking at me. I kept telling myself I was being dramatic. But as I got on the train, and we were all being squeezed in, someone reached out and pinched my butt. I turned around and all three guys were behind me. And I was stuck next to them on the train. After a few minutes of people continuing to try and squeeze their way onto the train, I had a panic attack, and fought my way off the train. Once I went above ground and was safely in an Uber, my first thought was “it’s your fault for wearing those skinny jeans and heels.” - @mccakes6 Send your stories to [email protected] or DM me. And be sure to check out the article I wrote about these drawings! Link in my bio. ❤️ • • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #streetharassment #harassmentstories #notyourbaby #timesup #metoo #femaleempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerment #catscallingback

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“It happened in the New York Public Library. I glanced up from my computer and made eye contact with the man sitting across from me. He took this as an invitation to hit on me. He told me I was beautiful and asked me for my instagram. I lied and said I didn’t have one. He asked me if he could get my number so we could hang out. “Sorry, I have a boyfriend.” I told him, returning to my computer. The next time I looked up I saw the man staring at me while he masturbated. I got up as fast as I could and told the nearest librarian but by the time he called security the man had left. “Are you okay?” The guard asked me, taking notice of the tears that were starting to form. “I’m fine, just embarrassed.” I told him. I didn’t go back to the library for the rest of the summer after that.” - @rliebs7 • • • • #positivelife #ipadproart #illustration #illustratorsofinstagram #sketchbook #womenwhodraw #procreate #procreateart #womenofillustration #creativelife #creative #girlssupportinggirls #girlpower #girlgang #streetharassment #harassmentstories #notyourbaby #timesup #metoo #femaleempowerment #womenempoweringwomen #womenempowerment

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The act of using words, symbols, and illustrations functions to transfers power back to the person, who endures harassment or any kind of atrocity for that matter. 

A word, after a word, after a word is power. It's true. And Hannah's project is commendable as it ventures to undo the normalisation of cat calling and victim blaming.

Follow Hannah, here.