I was at the Bethesda metro station on my way back home from work. Ordinarily, I would only have to wait a couple of minutes to catch my train, but track maintenance was causing delays of up to 20 minutes between trains. I was sitting on the bench, texting a friend, when a man sat down next to me, uncomfortably close, and started asking a flurry of questions, like what my name was, if I had a boyfriend, what was I doing in Bethesda, etc. I was stunned, and so I answered that yes, I did have a boyfriend, hoping that it would make him back off. Instead, he started asking if I had any female friends that would want to date him, if I was “in love, or just playing around” with my boyfriend, and if I thought he was attractive. Other passengers waiting around were looking at us, but made no motion to interfere, even though I’m sure I looked visibly uncomfortable. I gave him only negative answers, that no, all my female friends had boyfriends, yes I was in love and didn’t want to date him, but he still persisted.
I thought it would be over when the train arrived, but when I found a seat, he sat down right next to me and began asking me for my phone number. My phone was still in my hand, and when I said no, he grabbed my phone and put in his number and called himself. At that point, I was too shocked to do anything. This guy was clearly not getting the hint, and he had no respect for my personal boundaries. I left the train at the next stop (Thankfully it was mine!) and he said he would call me. I didn’t give any indication that I had heard him.
I felt panicked the whole way home. I kept checking behind me as I exited the station, and I practically sprinted until I reached my front door. I relayed all this to my boyfriend, and he was furious. When the man called, as promised, my boyfriend chewed him out about harassing women on the metro. I felt so weak that I had to have my boyfriend stand up for me, but at the time, I was just so confused and shocked that I felt powerless to do anything, let alone hollaback. I’ve learned a lot from this experience, namely, that this treatment is absolutely unacceptable, and other people won’t get involved; you have to make a stand for yourself.
A note to any unaccompanied female metro travelers in the DC area: If a man in his early 30s named Carl or Carlton approaches you like this, remind him that his harassment is unwelcome and unwanted!
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