Leah’s Story: Holy land isn’t so holy

I was in a gap year program in Jerusalem last year, and one day I went on a day trip to Tel Aviv with four(female) friends. On the bus ride back I was sitting in a window seat. It was a pretty crowded bus and I didn’t think anything of it when a man sat down next to me, I just continued listening to my ipod and staring out the window. Some time into the bus ride I felt something on my leg, the man had his hand under my dress and was rubbing his knuckles in a circular motion on my thigh. I looked up at him shocked. He looked surprised, I guess he wasn’t expecting me to notice! and then quickly dropped his hand and pretended to be asleep! seriously! It was the first time I had harassed physically, and I felt panicked. My first instinct was to get away from him, which was actually pretty difficult. I had to climb over him because I was in the window seat, and it was such a crowded bus that there were people sitting on the floor. I managed to make my way towards a clearing in the middle of the bus though, where I was able to collect myself somewhat. When the bus stopped in Jerusalem and everybody got out, I waited by the door for the man who assaulted me. He was maybe in his late twenties, tall and lanky wearing, a white button down shirt with the top buttons undone and black suit jacket and dark pants, he had a buzz hair cut, five a clock shadow, bags under his eyes and a shifty expression. He just looked seedy. When he got off I followed him and said to him loudly that he was “a dirt rotten pervert.” I didn’t know if he understood English and I didn’t care, I was furious. When he mumbled “what’d I do” in  English I told him where he could go and I hit him with my bag. I’m glad I spoke up, I hope that maybe I embarrassed him enough that he will fear his next victim will also raise a fuss. At the time I was really distraught though, I felt sick every time I had to get on a bus for a long time after that. I bought a can of pepper spray and almost used it a couple of times, but I’ve never quite felt safe in a public place since that day.

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