Ewa’s story: Streetcar creep

About half an hour ago I got on the back of the Spadina Streetcar at Spadina Station. A short (5.6″) man wearing jeans and a dark jacket was sitting in an aisle seat. He followed me to the back of the streetcar, sat down, spread his legs with one on the seat in front of him and began touching his genitals through his pants while looking over at me. This only lasted a few seconds before I looked him in the eyes getting ready to yell. He saw the provoked expression on my face and took his hands of his crotch and put his legs in front of him. I kept looking at him until I was sure he would not begin masturbating. Other male passengers got on the back of the streetcar and this pervert kept his eyes off me and his hands at his sides.

This man got off at College Street. To add to the above description, he looked rough: his hair was messy and he had stubble. He also talked to himself at one point in a South Asian accent.

I chose not to call the police because my previous experiences of reporting to the police were not satisfactory. I have experienced sexual assault and harassment many times in Toronto. In one instance, after being assaulted by a group of teenage boys, I had the experience of being intimidated by a police officer as he took my statement in my apartment: he kept inching closer to me until I was pressed up against my oven feeling unsafe. On another occasion I had police show up 20 minutes after a 911 call even though there was a police station less than 5 minutes away. The two officers who showed up appeared not to have any training around sexual violence and could not give any information about witness safety to a woman who was experiencing partner violence and stalking. I had called 911 on behalf of this woman after I had tried to help her, and after her partner nearly hit us with his car.

Regarding the man on the streetcar today, if you see this man masturbating on the TTC do not let him get away with it. If he touching himself (for more than a few seconds as in my case) and there are people around I would yell at him and draw others’ attention to him. I would also tell the driver. If you feel comfortable dealing with the police then place a call to them right away before this man leaves the streetcar. I understand that some people would not feel comfortable yelling, in this case just tell the driver and/or call the police.

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  1. Eden says:

    When I was teenager groups of us girls would gather at the local shopping mall for an afternoon of wandering about together. When the mall closed we would wait outside on a patio while a line of cars bustled through with parents to pick us up.

    One night, while we were waiting, a car motioned me and a group of girls over to “help him” …He was in the driver seat with passenger window down – we were in a lighted area with lots of other people – so we felt safe approaching the car. He had a surprise for all of us… though I was with 4 other girls and there were about 15 of us about to witness what happened – no one but me spoke up. I began to very loudly voice what was going on in the darkened cab of his car. “Get back – he’s jacking off and wants you to watch – he is trying to expose himself to you!” To which he drove off furiously fast.

    I was too disgusted and dumbfounded at 13 years old to think to collect such information as a license plate and too savvy to know that MY rights to come in public alone would be taken away if I told an adult what happened. “Mom will never let me out of the house again.”

    - The group I was with was at first silenced and then a cacophony of giggling and squealing stereotypical of excited young teenagers. No harm – no foul, right? WRONG

    We endangered ourselves, by our silence, for fear of losing our privileges that he had exploited to put us in danger. What puzzles me most, years later, is that other parents with car windows down were witness to my yelling – no one came to my aid – no parent reported it to the police either. The man drove away – free to repeat his performance or worse.

    Raise your voice – Raise the alarm – You are in the right, so don’t be embarrassed! Think of your own safety and the safety of others – take a big deep breath and tell it like it is!

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