I am a California native, and I’ve been living in Washington, DC for the past 3.5 years. I have been astounded time and time again by the level of street harassment that goes on here, as well as the type: It is not just excessive in terms of frequency, but it is also usually very verbally aggressive and hostile, in addition to overly vulgar.
From the moment I arrived in DC, I began attracting an excessive amount of negative sexual attention from men on the streets. I have had an abundance of uncomfortable experiences, ranging from simple, sexually explicit comments thrown my way, to men exposing themselves to me and masturbating to the sight of me in the park, and guys grabbing my butt while they ride past me on bikes. I am a 32 year old, 5’’8 female with a curvy figure. I am attractive, but no more than any other female in this city. I do, however, seem to generate far more harassment than my friends, and I have to attribute it largely to the curves. Whatever the reason, the frequency has concerned everyone in my life.
On the night of Thursday, August 12th, just slightly after midnight, I was walking with my friend back to her apartment in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. We only had a 5 block walk to go, and we were together, so we didn’t think it was necessary to take a cab. We were carrying groceries in both our hands. A mere half a block from her building, I heard a sudden rush of footsteps behind us, then felt someone’s body slam into my back. I then felt myself 100% bound, as the person wrapped their arms solidly around me in a strong bear-hug hold.
Because the brain does not process things normally when in shock, the first thought both I and my friend had was, “Oh, whose that? Is that a friend I know that’s just surprising me with a hug?” We had just said goodnight to a friend, so I thought perhaps it was him.
The attackers grip suddenly changed, and though he still had me bound, his hands suddenly gripped my breasts very hard. My arms were pinned to my side. I could not move. And to be honest, I didn’t even realize just what was happening to me.
–That is until his left arm shifted to hold me in place while he shoved his right arm between my legs, placed his hand over my vagina, quickly rubbed it aggressively and then attempted to shove his fingers inside of me over my dress. I heard an utterly disgusting sound of sexual arousal leave his mouth in that moment– I think that sound disturbed me even more than the molestation. It has certainly been the part of the experience that has haunted me the most.
It was only then that the shock gave way to an understanding of what was happening to me. According to my friend, I screamed “Get off of me!,” then dropped my weight to the ground. I don’t even remember doing this. And that’s when she realized just what was going on. Even as my body fell away from his grip and onto the ground, he was still struggling to hold onto me. When he let go, I looked up to see my friend struggling with him and pushing him away from me. He grabbed her hair, yanked her head back, shoved her and ran away.