Credit: Disney Channel

We live during a time when catcalling is, unfortunately, the norm. When women step outside of their homes, they may get catcalled, they may be left alone. Basically? It’s a major problem —it makes women (and men!) feel uncomfortable and feel unsafe.

Even the women we see on the silver and small screen aren’t immune. People reports that Girl Meets World actress Rowan Blanchard is one such example, having experienced catcalling for the first time when she was only 12 years old.

“I remember I was at a movie with my friend, and we were both in skirts,” now 14-year-old Rowan told Interview Magazine. “We were waiting outside the movies for my dad to pick us up, and this grown man came over and was like, ‘You guys need a ride anywhere?’ I was 12 years old and my friend was 15. And I just remember sitting there feeling my heart sink into my stomach.”

While this specific incident affected Blanchard and her friend – the resulting feeling is one all women can recognize. It is the type of sentiment that completely changes how you view the world, which is exactly what it did for Rowan.

“It was such a surreal moment because I always see that happening in front of me; I always see girls getting catcalled. But up until that point, I hadn’t experienced it. And it was like I was out-of-body for a second,” the actress explains. “I had seen that in movies, on TV, on the news. But when it happens to you, it’s like, ‘Oh, crap, this is real; people look at me this way. And people look at other girls this way.'”

Rowan touched upon another symptom of catcalling that’s not often talked about: guilt. She states, “I went home that night and didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t tell my parents because I was ashamed that it was what I was wearing. I was like, ‘Gosh, I shouldn’t wear a skirt next time. What am I doing?'”

At the time, Blanchard’s little sister was 10 years old and she recalls thinking of her. She remembers hoping that catcalling wouldn’t worm its way into her young, impressionable life. “Once it happens to you, you see it everywhere,” asserts Rowan. “When you’re watching your favorite TV show, you see a joke that maybe would have gone over your head a month ago. You can’t escape it. There’s really nothing you can do except endure it and try and speak out about it.”

In speaking out about experiences such as catcalling, Rowan’s main goal is to support other women. She wants to prevent them from feeling as alone as she did when she was first catcalled. “When girls would come up to me and be like, ‘I watch your show,’ I would think, ‘Has this ever happened to this girl? Of course it’s happened to this girl, because it happens every day,'” reveals Blanchard, adding that she aspires to be there for these girls and many others.

“I didn’t want them ever going through that,” says Rowan, referring to her honest discussions about all things womanhood on social media. “I just started [talking about it] because I couldn’t bear it anymore.”