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I’ve had more experiences with sexual harassment than I can even count, but this one stands out in my mind in particular.
I was eighteen years old, taking the Metro from my apartment in downtown DC to New Carrolton to meet my sister. She needed help with a charity event that her non-profit organization was putting on, and I’d agreed to paint faces of the children in attendance.
It was about 10 am on a Sunday morning, so the train was pretty empty. The only other person on the car with me was a male, approximately 35 years old, about 5’10″, 180 lbs. He was wearing a dark red dress shirt, a patterned tie, and black slacks. I was sitting at the far end of the car, and he was sitting in the middle, talking on his cell phone.
He got on the car at Stadium Armory, but I’d been on since Foggy Bottom. For the first few minutes he sat down while talking on his phone, but then got up and started pacing the car. Every time he got to the end of the car where I was seated, he would linger, blocking the aisle from my seat, and leaning over me. This creeped me out, so I got out my phone and started texting my sister and my boyfriend so that I would look busy and he would hopefully leave me alone.
My seat faced the rest of the car. There was another bench in front of me facing the same direction, than a space for the doors, and a bench facing me. He sat down on that bench, so that he was facing me. I tried to keep my head down and look engrossed with my phone, but I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was staring at me.
I detected movement, so I glanced up for a second. He had his penis out and was masturbating, still staring at me, still talking on his phone. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. I immediately felt EXTREMELY uncomfortable and unsafe. I didn’t know what this was going to escalate into, I felt endangered all alone on the train, and I wanted to cry.
I pressed the emergency intercom button that goes to the conductor which was right behind my head. The conductor asked what I needed, and I said that there was a man exposing himself on my car. At the next stop, the conductor came down to the car, but by that time the man had plenty of time to leave.
So, no police report or anything ever came of it.
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