While walking to Dupont with two colleagues – S, a woman, and K, a man – a gaggle of various express buses blocked the path across H Street NW from 14th Street. My colleagues and I, attempting to hold a conversation and navigate the crowded intersection, became caught up in the confusion and I, in particular, was not as aware of my surroundings as I would normally be.
It was at that moment that I felt a vague tickling sensation towards the bottom of my butt – too close to my crotch for comfort. At first, I thought perhaps I had backed up into someone or that one of my friends was playing a joke on me, both poor ideas since I had only been moving forward and the friends I was traveling with were from work and not nearly close enough to me to be so physical. Quickly dismissing those scenarios, I spun around to see a haggard man with few teeth in tattered grey clothing snickering at me. Suddenly, I felt dirty.
Then I lost it. I can’t remember exactly what I said in my rage, but I know I told him to “never fucking touch me again,” that what he did “was harassment,” and called him some variety of “fucker” name on several occasions. The man just made kissy-faces at me and laughed before staggering off to the other side of 14th Street.
“Yeah, go ahead and fucking laugh,” I shouted after him, sounding angry but feeling weak and defeated.
If anything good came out of this whole situation, it was that I discovered how much other people are disturbed by harassment, too. A lady near me asked what happened and responded with “That’s disgusting” when I explained. A man, also standing nearby, muttered something about “belting that guy.” S and K also asked me if I was ok several times on our way to Dupont. Receiving sympathetic responses from bystanders instead of apathy was heartening.
Still, I was violated by a stranger and I feel disgusting. Melodramatic as it sounds, it’s almost enough to make me not want to be touched by anyone for a long time.
Submitted by @sweetpearacer, aka Obie on 11/20/2009
Location: 14th & H St NW
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