This happened earlier this spring. It was a Wednesday evening; I was taking the train from Friendship Heights, where my dance studio is, to my home in Silver Spring.
While on the train I was reading a book about polynesian culture and I was sitting on the inside seat. The train was fairly empty. Out of nowhere a large man in a green coat came up behind me and sat on top of me. I was shocked and thought it was an accident, so I ignored him. He began mumbling and I realized he was making comments about the book I was reading. The more he spoke the more the comments escalated; he began by saying things like, “You think you’re Tahitian? Tahitian chicks are hot,” which led to, “I’m going to put my penis in that tiny white vagina of yours.” That’s when I turned to him, looked him in the eye and sternly said, “Stop talking to me RIGHT now.” The guy became angry that I rejected his advances and immediately replied, “this is a free country. I can do whatever I want.”
He turned his music up loudly and began burping in my face. His burps and belches were coming every 10 to 45 seconds and they continued for the next three to five minutes. Because I was in the window seat, I was afraid that if I stood up and tried to move he would grope me. I tried to think of something to say and I tried to scream, but I just froze. I couldn’t get anything out. Finally, another passenger–a man–asked the harasser to have some respect. This again made the harasser angry, but instead of retaliating he left the train at the next station.
When I made it to Silver Spring, I reported the incident to the Metro Police. They came out with rape kit test and when I told them I had not been sexually assaulted, only sexually harassed, they told me what had happened was not a crime and essentially lectured me about turning mole hills into mountains. I tried to explain that if this guy did this to me, he’s probably going to do it to other people and it will probably escalate, but they didn’t seem to take note or even care. They did at least take a description of the man.
Submitted by Jonna on 10/29/10
Location: Friendship Heights Metro.
Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.