I was harrassed this morning on the red line train between Bethesda and Dupont.
I entered at White Flint at approximately 9:20 a.m., and took a seat in the uncrowded third car, next to a window. At one of the next three stops a powerfully built man wearing grey sweatpants and a black ski vest got on, paced slowly up the aisle, and sat next to me. He seemed to be leaning on me, but I ignored him an read my Express like a good metro rider. At about Friendship heights something caught my eye and I realized he was stroking himself himself through his sweatpants and pointing his erection at me. His jacket was large enough that the person across the aisle probably couldn’t see. I tried to get out of the seat at Cleveland Park but he pushed against me harder, blocking me in while continuing to stroke. I focused on my newspaper and said nothing, amazed at how powerless and frozen I felt, trying not to let him know that I knew what he was doing. If you’d asked me a week ago how I would have handled this, I would say that I’d have screamed at the top of my lungs. But I was mute.
Eventually at Dupont enough people got up that I was able to do the same. It wasn’t my stop and I felt lost and unsure of what to do. There were no transit police nearby, and the station attendant had a line at her door. What would I tell them anyway? I don’t have a description of the man that anyone would recognize. I called my husband, got back on the train and continued to metro center, where I saw him again. Again, instead of screaming or catching anyone’s attention, I ran. Jumped on the nearest train, going the wrong direction, and ran.
I am often called naive in my belief that people are good. I don’t lock my car doors, have confidence in new situations and regularly give people the benefit of the doubt. I used to be upset at people who sit on the aisle seat and leave the window seat open when riding the train. I’m feeling better now but in the five minutes I was held hostage by this sexual predator, I truly saw a different side of this world. I’ll be hogging the aisle seat from now on and promise myself not to remain silent in the future.
Location: Red Line between Bethesda and Dupont
Submitted by HY on 12/8/2009
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