Maddison Westcott was deeply embarrassed.


As the 19-year-old student explained in a series of tweets on Twitter, she overheard a man at the gym make sexual remarks to a female gym-goer, compelling her to intervene.

Westcott herself had been subject to off-putting comments from “really creepy guys” at the gym before and had always wanted someone to defend her. She wrote, in part:

…The first time I started going to the gym older men would compliment my figure and say really weird things that would make me uncomfortable. I always wanted someone who intervine (sic) because I KNOW people were hearing this. But no one ever did. Luckily for me comments were the furthest it went.

As a result, when Westcott heard a man say: “You look nice in those leggings, can I take you out some time?” she decided to step in to protect a girl she thought was being harassed. The maneuver was simple. Westcott simply asked the girl:

“Are you ready to leave?”

Much to Westcott’s surprise, however, the man was actually the girl’s boyfriend. Westcott explained the charade between the couple had her convinced the girl was being bothered.

She wrote, in part:

I could hear what her boyfriend was saying & he really didn’t sound like her boyfriend. To me it sounded like she was getting hit on and from her reaction, which looking back seems like she was just annoyed with him pretending, was unwanted[.]

Although she was “embarrassed,” Westcott said she was relieved to know the situation wasn’t what it seemed:

While I was extremely embarrassed as Terry and Shannon laughed at me, I was honestly happy that he was her boyfriend because I knew she was safe and wasn’t getting harassed and something bad wouldn’t happen to her.

The girl, Nicoletta, tweeted about the incident in a show of gratitude, prompting many others to share personal stories of strangers thwarting unwanted attention.

Men, too, shared experiences of interfering in awkward situations:

However, the interaction between Westcott, Nicoletta, and Ricky wasn’t entirely perceived as an act of sisterly courage. Some commenters thought Westcott went too far by assuming the worst in Ricky.

One Twitter user tried to clarify the situation by explaining Westcott was simply giving another female an “out” if she had needed it.

For Westcott, her choice was clear. She wrote:

All and all I thought it was appropriate because I didn’t want another girl to be uncomfortable. I would rather be mortified with embarrassment than to have her in danger.

She added: “Embarrassment goes away pretty quickly, having someone assault you doesn’t.”

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