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Something bizarre and scary happened to me yesterday. I’ve spoken to the police, but there’s nothing they can do. I feel like people need to know that this happened so that, if it happens again, perhaps they’ll think more quickly than me and someone can catch the person who hurt me.
On Sunday, May 2, somewhere between 11 and 11:15 am, I was walking up the steps to the 7 train subway platform on 46th Street in Sunnyside, Queens. I noticed a man who I felt was walking too close to me, but didn’t think much of it.
I then felt a burning and a thick dripping on the back of my right thigh. This is gross, but the only way I can explain it is it felt like I’d shat my pants and it was aflame somehow. I reached back and felt that my jeans were not wet but had become partially solid. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it didn’t make sense to me either. All I could think was “someone threw hot wax on me” or “could something in my jeans have spontaneously melted?” I looked for the man who had been too close, but he was gone. I was alarmed, but mostly confused.. I can’t really explain what it felt like, but all I kept thinking was “why did someone throw wax on me?” and wondering how they could have done that, short of carrying around a lit candle.
I was traveling to the LIRR station at Woodside to commute to work on Long Island so I couldn’t go home to change my pants. I was extremely uncomfortable the entire ride and when I got to work I told a friend what had happened. He pointed out that if my jeans had a polyester content, a flame or acid could have caused them to melt and solidify. His first guess was that someone had held a lighter or cigarette to my pants. When I took off my pants I found two raised singe/burn marks on the back of my leg. There was no hole in my jeans. I believe that someone threw a chemical on me which burned me through my pants and also caused my pants to melt/solidify where the chemical had been.
I didn’t get back to the city until around 11 pm and so couldn’t call 311 until this morning. When I told them what happened they forwarded me to 911 who sent two officers to my apartment. The policemen agreed that it seemed like I’d been attacked with a chemical. They said that I was welcome to file a report but that since I didn’t actually see anything it didn’t make a lot of sense. They said what they usually do in such a situation is spread the word through their precinct so that people will keep their eyes and ears open.
Much as I wish they’d taken my pants to forensics or something, I do agree that filing a report is kind of pointless beyond recording that it happened, and I’m frustrated and confused. All I can think to do to make myself feel better is to spread the word myself. Maybe if another woman feels a strange burning through her clothes, she’ll think faster than I did. It was just such a strange thing (whose pants burn and solidify as they walk down the street?) that I couldn’t even process that this was any sort of attack until I was able to remove my pants and check my skin.. but unfortunately, by that time it was hours later and I was in another county.
I wish I had been paying more attention to the guy (not that I can say for sure it was him, but I don’t know who else could have done it..), or snapped him with my camera, or something.. he was almost completely nondescript: mid-height, mid-weight, probably in his 30s, wearing a red shirt. I’ve attached pictures of my jeans, and also one of my burn (which has proven virtually impossible to photograph.. the attached photo is after I removed my bandaid).
Thank you so much for helping me warn other women!
Submitted by Shoshanna
Reposted from Gothamist:
Horrible story: The Post reports two men were arrested for allegedly “raping an unconscious woman on a West Village park bench. A witness told cops the victim was out cold in Jackson Square Park on West Fourth Street at about 11:35 a.m. Monday when the men approached her. She was lying face-down on the bench when one man allegedly got on top of her and took off her pants.” The witness called the police and both men, Anthony Torres (who has a previous arrest for rape) and Stanley Drayton, were charged with rape.
Around 5:30p.m on Saint Patrick’s Day, I was on the 5 train to meet up with my sister after work. The train was pretty empty but had (mostly men) around 10 people spread out, sitting down. These two boys get on, I say ‘boys’ because they seemed to be around the ages 16-19, both had hoodies on, both were African American with short black hair. They sit across from me and immediately say loudly, “Why do you have green nails for?” (my nails were painted a dark green), I ignore them and mess with my phone. This obviously pissed them off because then they start saying, “Why she wearing so much makeup? That’s too much makeup.” Well then, mascara and concealer must make me a whore. At this point, my whorish self, couldn’t take it anymore and I said, “I’m not deaf and I don’t like to be disrespected.” This seemed to shut them up for about 10 seconds, that’s when the insults started pouring out. I was called a, “white bitch”, “racist”, “ugly bitch”, etc. I ignored these while trying to swallow my increasing anger. The one guy then thought it would be fun to rap about me and how I should, “suck big black dicks.” They both laughed, but one of the boys got up, walked towards me and tried to touch me. Good thing I saw this coming and was able to push him away before he laid a finger on me. This was the last straw, so I took out my phone to take a picture of them. That’s when the big, tough boys showed their true colors…they cowered behind their hoodies. While doing this they proceeded to call me a ‘bitch’ and tell me to, ‘fuck off’. I got some words in by saying, “What’s the matter? Are you scared of having your picture taken? You sure didn’t seem scared of harassing me?” Both of the boys got up, while covering their faces, to get off the train and I kept my phone pointing towards them. But, before getting off the train one of them spit at me and they both ran off. Luckily, it missed me by 10 miles.
What really upsets me about the situation is that no one on the train did or said anything. And most of the people on the train were older males. They literally just stared at me as I felt anger, sad, and humiliated. These boys didn’t know me nor did I do anything to deserve such treatment. I wanted to cry after what happened and felt so ashamed that I got off of my train so I can switch to another 5, just so the people who witnessed what happened wouldn’t see me anymore.
Submitted by Kat
Reposted from Gothamist:
A man attacked and possibly raped a pediatric nurse in a bathroom stall in the midtown bar Social, police said. The perp fractured the 30-year-old woman’s skull, and broke her eye socket and nose after she reportedly refused to dance with him in the three-story Eighth Avenue bar and lounge.
According to the Times, the attack occurred at around 2:30 this morning when the Connecticut woman declined to dance with the perp. After “she rebuffed his advances,” the attacker followed the woman into the ladies bathroom, kicked open a bathroom stall door and assaulted her. Law enforcement sources believe she might have been raped because her pants were partially off when she was found.
One of the nurse’s girlfriends discovered the victim unconscious in the bathroom stall. She was taken to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where according to ABC, she underwent surgery. Police are trying to find video of the man entering or leaving the bar.
Reprinted from Metro New York, written by HOLLAhero Amy Zimmer:
Georgia Warren felt “disgusted” with what she witnessed on a Brooklyn-bound N train as it pulled into Pacific Street around 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 1: A man shoved his crotch against a woman and touched her shoulder. The man then walked toward Warren, but she shouted, “Don’t you f—ing touch me, you pervert.”
She alerted the conductor as two “good Samaritans” blocked the man from boarding another train. Police arrived 20 minutes later but said they couldn’t do anything because the man was “crazy,” Warren said. Despite subway PSAs encouraging riders to report lewd behavior, they didn’t take a report, she said. The victim left before police arrived, but Warren and another witness were willing to give statements.
“I just wanted to make sure this guy is not still out there touching people,” Warren, 24, said. “They released him — even as he fondled himself in front of them.”
Warren said the incident was reported to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
The NYPD’s Transit Bureau chief last year said subway sexual harassment is the “No. 1 quality of life offense on the subway” and officers are required to take reports. The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.
According the Post, a man is accused raping his ex-girlfriend at the Fulton Street Station on November 13th. The ex-con allegedly pulled her hair, punched her in the face, ripped her pants off and raped her.
As station booths close and the number of underground police are on the decline, it is no accident that subway crimes have risen. Subway stations have become safe havens for violence against women.
We deserve better. Join us at New Yorkers for Safe Transit to make a difference.
By now the story of Cyan Brown, the 16 year old who fatally stabbed a man on Thursday, has been heard around the city. Chased by “seven or eight” men who were trying to drag her off the train and sexually assault her, Cyan had two options: fight back or get hurt.
Like all of us, Cyan had probably been harassed and maybe even assaulted before. She knew what it meant to have lewd comments made about her body. Perhaps she had been stalked before, or been the unwilling witness to public masturbation. Like all of us, Cyan knew very well what the long term emotional impact of harassment and assault felt like, and this time she wanted a different ending.
When we ask our readers why the ‘hollaback,’ the most frequent response is that they were tired of “doing nothing.” This makes sense. Harassment and assault are on a spectrum of violence against women. A study of rape victims found that the ones that fought back – even if they were unsuccessful – were less likely to be depressed or have PTSD afterwards. Fighting back, it seems, is good for you. The problem is – we shouldn’t have to.
While we at HollabackNYC do not support violence in any form, Cyan had no other options. When violence is the only answer, something is terribly, terribly wrong with our city.
We stand in solidarity with Cyan and her family during this difficult time.
This is an update to the post “I didn’t think he’d be able to get one past me” from December 4th.
WOW. I just wanted to write and give an update to my story. As I said, I was so shaken up that I didn’t have the mind to get off the train after the assault and find a police officer. I knew that I would definitely report it but the man was pretty non-descript and got off amidst hundreds of other people so I didn’t think it would matter if I reported it right then or the next day.
It happened on Wednesday evening during rush hour and I found the number for the NYC sex crimes hotline (212) 267-RAPE finally yesterday and called. They were so nice and called me back after having spoken with the transit precinct in my area that would handle the situation. She asked me if I would be willing to go out there and look through some mugshots and press charges. I was beside myself–I felt grateful someone had even answered the phone, let alone that they were taking the situation seriously. I said absolutely and took the train straight out to the precinct, which is actually located in the Van Wyck Blvd. subway station in Queens.
The officer was expecting me and got some initial information and had her partner take the full report. I described the guy to the best of my ability–I gave estimates of his weight and height and I could remember some of the details of his face and what he was wearing. She asked if I would be able to pick him out of some photos and I said sure I would try. She asked why I didn’t report it after it happened because there had been an officer on that platform at that time and it could have facilitated the process. I just told her because I was shaken up and didn’t think it would make a difference. I just wasn’t prepared for something like that to happen and didn’t want to get off at the same stop as the creep, either.
The two detectives I needed to speak with had gotten called out to something so she said unfortunately I would need to come back to look through the photos and I said that wasn’t a problem and her partner offered to walk me out to the train. As we were walking out the two detectives walked up and I was elated. I couldn’t believe the good fortune. They took me into their office and apologized for having me repeat the story but they needed to get as many details as possible. They set me up on a computer and offered me water and asked if I needed to use the phone since there wasn’t any cell phone reception down there. We entered some search parameters in the database and I began clicking through dozens of pages of criminals. There were whole pages of people who looked nothing like my assailant and I just clicked through. Given the nature of the crime I wasn’t so sure he would be in the system–because he hadn’t committed a rape or outright exposed himself and I know that “smaller crimes” like public groping and indecency are reported, let alone prosecuted, with much much less frequency.
I asked how advanced the system was and if I could set aside certain photos that were more similar than others just to kind of give them a more general idea of what he looked like but unfortunately that wasn’t really possible. There were thousands and thousands of photographs and so another detective entered some more specific criteria and revised the search while another brought out a new binder with print outs of criminals that have been arrested more recently. I was pretty sure the mugshot efforts would be futile but I was so grateful for the incredibly respectful and smooth experience I was having with reporting such a gross and heinous, albeit sometimes shrugged off, crime. I really couldn’t believe it.
I opened the binder and started flipping through a few pages while the detectives pulled out even more binders that I could look through next. I had maybe flipped through about 10 pages and I turned a page and my heart just nearly stopped. My legs went absolutely limp and I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my body. My heart started racing and my hands were shaking and I said “omigosh–my heart is racing and my legs are limp and there’s adrenaline pumping and I don’t know why I would have this experience if this weren’t him” And the female detective laughed and said “Well that’s a pretty good sign.” And I said “that’s the guy.” And the male detective asked me with what percentage of certainty I could say that it was him and I felt so surreal, couldn’t believe I was actually picking someone out of a book of mugshots and that out of a city of 8 million people, this perp was actually in the book, and I said “100% that is the guy.” He had been arrested only once before, three years ago, within a week of the crime against me, for something similar. His physical statistics matched what I had given them in my report almost to a T. In the report I had remembered some freckles on his nose and we zoomed in to the photo and sure enough-little brown freckles.
So there’s a search warrant out for this guy and one of the officers had just seen him on the train the day that I went in. He’s definitely out there and no stranger to NYC’s pervy little world. They said that if and when they pick him up they’ll bring him in and I’ll stand behind a glass window and I’ll pick him out of a lineup. I have no idea what to make of the situation–filing the report for my own personal sanity and reponsibility and having an officer take it down and not shrug it off or tell me there was nothing they could do about it was beyond my own wildest expectations. That all this has happened as a result is absolutely incredible and mind boggling. If this creep is picked up and released or picked up and questioned and it makes him think twice about prowling around and spreading his misery and disease to others I will be happy. If this creep is picked up and I am able to press charges…well I have no idea what kind of effect that would have on me. But a big amount of justice took place yesterday and for that I am happy.
In today’s AMNY: Transit cop charged with raping teen. Thanks to Heather Haddon, one of our HOLLAheroes, for reporting this awful crime. When station booth attendants are being cut left and right, every man counts.
“A 29-year-old transit cop charged with raping an 18-year-old woman is scheduled to face a judge on Wednesday.
Shawqi Ahmed, an officer since January 2006, was arrested by the NYPD Friday. Ahmed allegedly met the woman at a Brooklyn club on Thanksgiving and raped her in an apartment later that night, according to published reports. The NYPD would not confirm the details of the incident yesterday.
“It’s particularly a travesty considering this was someone people depend on to keep them safe,” said Emily May of Holla Back, a Web site documenting harassment and sexual abuse in New York City.
The case will go to a grand jury at Kings County Criminal Court, a DA spokesman said.”
Sunday December 6, 2009 6:28 PM By Heather Haddon
I’ve never felt unsafe before. That may be surprising, as I live in New York City, but I’ve never really feared for my physical safety. I’m a big lady and I’ve always felt comfortable walking or biking or taking the train at any hour of the day or night.
Last night, two men on a dark street stripped me of that sense of security.
I was riding my bike home from my friend’s house around 1:30AM. I had dressed up for Shabbat services in a cute, short dress and was feeling a little chilly. I was riding mechanically slowly, really only looking forward to getting home so I could curl up in my warm bed and watch some dumb recorded tv shows.
I ride through some pretty desolate areas on this route. Keep in mind, I’ve ridden this route several times a week since I started biking. I’ve ridden it at four in the morning before. It is the only way I use to get home when I’ve gone anywhere east of Prospect Park.
I approached the overpass of the D train on 39th street right near my apartment and passed two men. All of the sudden I heard someone running behind me and I turned around to see one of them chasing me on my bike. He was running full out only a few feet behind me. I screamed out “What the fuck are you doing?” and started pedaling as fast as I could. They screamed “bitch” at me and threw a glass bottle which shattered near my tires.
I was three blocks from my home.
I rode at full speed the last three blocks. When I got to my house, my hands were shaking so badly I could hardly lock up my bike. I was terrified that the men would have followed me home. I ran up my stairs and locked the door, finding an empty apartment. I sat on my bed shivering with fear, unable to really process what had just happened.
When I looked back at that man chasing me, I truly thought that he would overtake me and pull me off my bike. There aren’t a lot of street lights in that area and even less people out on the street. If they had wanted to take my bag, they could have. If they had wanted to sexually assault me and slit my throat, they could have. These are the thoughts that kept me awake as I huddled in my bed, to scared even to cry.
I don’t know what they’ve left me. I ride my bike every single day. I ride it to work, to friend’s houses, to the grocery store, to rehearsal, to meetings, to parties, and anywhere I want to go. I haven’t bought a monthly metrocard since June. My bike is an essential part of how I interact with the city. It’s my life. Yet now, when I think about riding in some of the areas where I travel on a regular basis — I am terrified. What if this happens again? What if next time I’m not fast enough? What if they do get me off my bike? I’m so scared, but I’m not allowed to be — I need my bike.
How can I reclaim the sense of physical security that they’ve taken from me?
Submitted by Emma