To be a hero, you only need three words: “Are you OK?”

I was riding the C train from work late a while ago. When the train reached Penn Station a bunch of rowdy guys in their late teens/early twenties hopped on. They were looking at me and talking about me, my hair, etc. I was, needless uncomfortable.

I moved and, like an idiot, I meekly smiled at the person who was sitting across from me- a man with a kind of badge around his neck (something that may have indicated he was developmentally challenged). I think I just wanted to look for a connection in another passenger. Big mistake.

When the train stopped at Spring street I noticed the guy whom I sat across from was behind me. I tried to go through the turning exit but he stopped the gate from moving. He held me there with his forearm. I was frightened and tried to call for help. No one in metro station seemed to be alert. But a voice came from the far end of my platform. “HEY!” a youngish man yelled “Are you okay?”. With that, the guy who had pinned me looked shocked and jumped on the next train that was passing by.

Just someone noticing helps so much. In so many of these stories no one noticing, no one baring witness, is a common theme. Having just one person bare witness to accosting can make such a great difference.

How can people be living, working, traveling about in a city and not pay attention to what is going on around them? Maybe assault on someone else is just too surreal for many people to grasp or feel they can affect.

Submitted by Sarah

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