Elevator Harassment

I was harassed today in the elevator of my office building.

I was riding to the deli in the lobby. The door opens at the second floor and I awkwardly step out and then back in, realizing I had the wrong floor. The person getting on the elevator was a young man wearing the uniform of a certain shipping company. He laughed and said “Did I trick you?” I laughed and said “You sure did.” I thought the guy was just trying to make conversation or flirt a little.

But then he says, “You seem like a nice person who can take that kind of joke, not like someone who’s gonna like punch me in the face for something like that.” I chuckled and said “Nahh I wouldn’t do that.” He said, “I’m sure you’d be able to throw a good punch though,” and SQUEEZES MY BICEP. My arms were folded, so he was very very close to grazing my breast as well.

The doors opened and I power-walked into the deli. He followed me to the deli, which he did not have to walk through to exit the building. He joked, “I’m not stalking you, my truck is parked on this side.” I stopped at the salad counter, and he stopped behind me. “I also have to tell you that you look so beautiful today.” As he was walking away, I muttered a whispered “thanks” under my breath, too intimidated to say nothing but too shocked to stand up for myself.

I was so shaken, because that encounter went from elevator banter to him touching me in less than a minute. I wish I had the reaction time in that moment to say something. This was the first time that uncomfortable flirting, cat calling or random “complimenting” has occurred at, on or near my workplace, and this was the first time that it resulted in someone touching me. Frankly, I was scared. I told my human resources manager about what happened, and she is going to call the company to make a complaint against the employee.

I already get cat called often in DC and had an unusually high volume of unwanted and harassing male attention in OCMD this weekend. I am at a point where I’ve really had enough. I am growing increasingly angry at our patriarchal system normalizing the objectification of women to the point where we are regularly afraid or uncomfortable around men in our public spaces. We don’t want “compliments” from strangers. We don’t want to be harassed. This type of behavior is just not okay. It makes us feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and vulnerable. My body is not yours to stare at, discuss or touch.

Submitted by Anonymous on 8/15/2011

Location: Bethesda, MD @Office Building

Time of harassment: Day Time (9:30A-3:30P)

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.


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