Newport Place Incident

We received this email (checked with the author on the authenticity) and, again, it’s another example of why we need to do more in our city to address sexual assault.

They say bad things happen in three’s, so the good news is that you will not be getting another sad email from me for awhile.
Last night, I was attacked by a man on the corner of 21st and Newport Place.  I was walking home on 21st St. from P at 11:20pm.  I noticed a man sitting on a stoop; when I passed him, he casually stood up and then started following me.  As he started walking faster, I dialed 9-1 on my cell phone (a habit from living in Boston where I often walked by myself).  Within seconds he was behind me.  I stepped to the side to let him pass, and that’s when he grabbed me between my legs and then grabbed my chest.  I immediately started screaming and struggling away from him, and fortunately he ran off.  I dialed the last “1” to call the police.  The scary thing was that he did not run far.  As I stood on the corner talking (sobbing) to the dispatch, I could see him a mere yards away on Newport.  He was clearly out of his mind.  The cops responded quickly and as soon as the first police car arrived, I was able to point him out just down the street.  A detective arrived about 30 minutes later, took down my story, and asked me to identify the man.  It was terrible, but at least he’s behind bars now.
Friends, please, please be careful when you are walking alone.  I have heard too many stories of this happening to friends, but still never imagined it would happen to me, much less in my “nice,” well-lit neighborhood.  The police told me that they catch less than half of the f-ers that do this to women in DC.  They said it was good that I had called them so quickly.  I have to admit that I hesitated for a moment before calling–I don’t even know why.  But once I called, the dispatcher stayed on the phone with me the entire time and made me feel safe.
I wish I could relay some sort of wisdom that would keep all of us safer.  Only this: SCREAM loudly and call the police right away.  I feel terribly violated and scared, but know that I’m lucky that it wasn’t worse.  Please forward to any women you know in the Dupont/Georgetown area (or elsewhere!)–we cannot be too careful.
Please be safe.
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6 responses to “Newport Place Incident

  1. I am so sorry that happened to you, but am glad you had the foresight to call 911 and am even more glad that one less creep is walking the streets. You are brave and you will heal from this trauma in time.

  2. Is this becoming a trend? –I had something nearly identical happen 2 weeks ago. I just submitted my story to this site (using the name “B.”), so you will be able to see it within the next few days. I was walking home with a friend at night and a man attacked me from behind, grabbed my breasts, shoved his hand between my legs, and tried to insert his fingers into me over my dress. He did not at all appear to be insane– Just a sexual preditor out on a walk. And he did run fast– Fast and far. He was long gone by the time the cops got there. I am f-ing THRILLED that they caught your guy. And I’m also glad you acted quickly instead of just going into shock like I did. And I so completely feel your pain– I have utterly possessed by nervousness right now every single time I leave the safety of my home.

  3. Honey, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’ve been lucky in that most of the harassment perpetrated on me has been verbal. For everyone reading this I do have one suggestion: Do you’re best not to scream. Instead, use your loudest and most emphatic tone to yell “NO!” or “I don’t know you. Get off of me.” People in the area will often dismiss shrieking cries and screams, but respond when you are being as clear as possible. Also, don’t yell for “help,” but yell “FIRE!” In general, people run away from “help” and towards “fire.” It’s disgusting, I know, but that is the human psyche.

    I learned this stuff in my Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) class at American University. If you get a chance to take these classes, please do.

  4. Jillian– Thank you for the support. It is comforting, and the sharing is cathardic.

    It’s funny, while I don’t remember this, my friend said that I did yell out “Get off of me!” before dropping my weight to the ground. It was instinct, I guess. The worst part about my experience is that there were about 10 guys hanging out on the porch of their building a mere 2 houses away: They watched the whole thing, made no attempt to intervene, and didn’t flinch at all or come to my aid when I lay crying on the sidewalk after it was over. This, I think, infuriates me more than even the attack.

    With the exception of having my butt grabbed by 2 cyclists last year, and having some douchy UPS delivery kid send my photographs of his erection, all of my harassment has been verbal as well. So this was definitely a huge shock, no matter how on guard I always am.

    I took a self-defense class specifically geared toward what to do if someone grabs you in exactly this way from behind. They taught us to yell “No!”, reach back, grab the scrotum, pull forward, jab back into the face with the elbow, then turn around and knee their face as they are keeled over, and run.

    I had no problem doing this in the class.

    When it actually happened to me in real life, however, the shock was AMAZING, and NONE of those skills were anywhere accessible in my mind.

  5. B. –

    Definitely. You can only hope that those skills will become instinct, but what I remember most from the class was the last day. We simulated an attack. It was terrifying. During one of the simulations, granted these men are covered in bright red padding, five inches thick, but anyway… during one of the simulations, you are instructed to close your eyes while two men circles around you and taunt you, verbally harass you and threaten you. You are not permitted to touch them until they touch you. When they do, and you get into fight mode, all of the training goes out the window, now it’s just about getting them off of you. I remember taking two fists side by side and punching one of them in the face…. what move was that? Certainly none that we learned.

    You can’t control how you will react when you are violated so intensely. That’s why it’s so important that we learn not to blame ourselves when these things happen. Shock and feeling paralyzed are reaction that are just as legitimate as fighting back or doing what you can to run away.

    I pray that if I am ever physically assaulted, that my reaction will be to fight back, but if it’s not… I’ll do my best to remind myself that it’s not my fault. Because whatever I am doing at the time, whether it be walking alone at night, venturing into a “bad” part of town, listening to music, wearing a short skirt, or simply minding my own business, I am NOT to blame. The assailant did the assaulting. He or she is the only person who could have prevented it.

    Stay strong ladies, and a few gentleman.

    One day, I have to hope, these awful situations will be few and far between.

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