All packed up and heading to the airport to watch my little brother graduate from high school, I walked from Adam’s Morgan to the Columbia Heights metro. I took the back way through my neighborhood to avoid being catcalled by the men generally hanging outside the Christ House on Columbia Road. Even though I have a few friends who live on that street and I like walking on the busy street in hopes of running into them, I often take the back way to avoid the calls.
Heading to DCA, I boarded the yellow line heading towards Huntington at Columbia Heights. Somewhere between there and U Street, two boys who had entered the train moved to the empty seats directly behind me. I could barely understand them and I only started paying attention because I could feel their words aimed at me. I had headphones in, listening to an album made by a friend for my birthday with my nose in a magazine. Their words got louder, the tone more arrogant and threatening. What were they saying? I started getting nervous. Did I turn off my music or could I suddenly just hear their voices, my mind no longer able to hear the music in my ears? I’m not sure. And then I heard, “[something, something] BABY doll. Yeeeah girl you know you can hear me. Awwww you playin all ignorant and shit?” I could feel his breathe on my neck. “Yeah, I’m going to cut you, make you have my baby. Aw bitch you just ignorin me. Imma make you ha ve my baby.” It continued.
I felt panic take over my whole body. A thick spike of fear raced through my spine, into my arms, through my stomach and down my legs. Their voices continued booming into the back of my ear. I never looked up but I am certain they were talking to me.
A small part of me was screaming to get up and tell these boys off. But I didn’t. I was too scared. They were talking about raping me and doing it openly in public. Right there in the middle of the metro. Remembering how WMATA has a poor history of not keeping women safe from sexual assault and knowing the amount of violent crime that occurs in the area, I decided on the safer choice to remain silent and concentrate all my energy on ignoring them. Besides, I had heard them mention something about Shaw and that stop was coming soon.
Pulling into the station, my eyes beating into the magazine, my face shaking with concentration and fear, the boys got off the train. Then my fear turned into rage and my eyes darted frantically back and forth between the young man sitting in front of me and the middle aged man in a suit sitting next to me. I searched for even an ounce of recognition. Did you just see that? Did you just hear them? My eyes and face pleadingly inquired. Nothing. The young boy sheepishly glanced over at me and quickly glanced away. There is no doubt he was petrified too. He just didn’t know what to do.
I turned again to the older man, my stare pounding and filled with anguish wanting to shout, Why didn’t you say anything???
But I didn’t. I just sat there silently. What good would it have done if they had said something anyway? If these boys were as dangerous as I had thought, sticking up for me probably could have put their safety in jeopardy too. I thought further and concluded that what these men could have done was acknowledged what had happened to me and let me know that it is not okay. That would have been the best and safest reaction to what had happened.
But they didn’t. And I don’t need them to anyway it just would have been nice. Anyway, I already had my mind made up that I would write a Holla Back DC post, so instead of wasting time thinking about what these men could have done for me, I spent the rest of my ride pulling together this post. Thanks for existing.
Submitted by Jeanne Brooks on 6/6/2010
Location:Yellow Metro between Columbia Heights and Shaw
Time of Harassment: Day Time (9:30A-3:30P)
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