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Today I was reminded why New Media can be kind of awesome. I had two terrible experiences this weekend.
The first one initially seemed harmless – I was stopped by a limo of men on the celebrating a bachelor’s party on the pretense they were asking for directions to a club. Midsentence one of the groom stopped me and said they were just checking out my ass the entire time. I let it slide and walked away – this kind of thing happens. For them, it was socially acceptable.
But this afternoon I had an experience that upset me a lot more on the TTC. A man was shouting about how he was American and picking on an old man for his clothing choice. He started chanting red, white and blue. Then his eyes got mine. He held it, and said “pink.” He proceed to make lewd gestures and suggest what he would “like to do to me.” I held his gaze until I got off the train, and he didn’t stop the entire time. Nobody did anything. Neither did I.
I realized later that these two incidents were actually the same, even if I felt more directly threatened by one. All these men saw when they looked at me was my gender (my clothes weren’t even an instigator as they were for the older man, though I am not suggesting he deserved to be harassed either). And these things were said to make me uncomfortable, and to make them feel powerful. Yet the first case is unfortunately common and for some aspects of our culture (Pickup Artistry?) acceptable.
But the shame is that this is so often faced with silence. But we don’t have to. And that’s the beauty of this website. (Thank you)
I was coming home on the train to Astoria around 4am from Union Square. I had two or three drinks at a bar, so I was leaning on the window frame instead of sitting up strait. I believe this is when my attacker noticed me. I first noticed him when there were few people left in the train besides he and I. He was seemingly around 24 or 25, slim, wearing a long grey coat and a hat with a brim, slacks and loafers. He seemed like a young professional also returning home.
He was sitting down in the seat slumped against the wall of the train, as though he was sleeping, so that I couldn’t see his face because of the brim of his hat. I now realize that he didn’t want to show me his face because he had probably already picked me out for attack. When we got to the 35th street station, there were only he and I left in the train. I got out, and he got out onto the platform with me, behind me. It was December and there was snow on the ground.
I felt a little bit creepy with him behind me and tried to walk as fast as I could to the stairs to get to the turnstile and the clerk in the booth. All of a sudden, I heard his feet running behind me. I thought he would run right by me, that he was in a hurry. I was wrong.
He tried to tackle me to the ground from behind, encircling my arms and the top half of my body. I am deceptively heavy and strong, so he was unable to take me down. As soon as I felt this, I began screaming at the top of my lungs “Noooooo you don’t! Oh noooooo!”. I twisted about 4 or 5 times and broke his grip on my upper body.
I stood straight up and tried to see him, but he was out of my view. I had no time to do anything else because he jumped toward me and began punching me in the temples. I was struck about 5 times hard in each temple, as though he were a boxer and my head the bag- just that fast. I was stunned for a second in which he grabbed the collar of my jacket from behind and pulled me to the ground. I felt myself going down and shrieked the loudest scream of my life that went on for over a minute. I rolled on my back and kicked over the top of my head towards him, and he jumped away. I flipped my legs down and continued to scream and scream. Finally I was silent, just looking at him. I got my first glimpse of his face- he had the hood of his coat over the upper part of his face, but I could see the lower part of his face. He had huge lips, that was the only distinguishing feature I could make out.
When I went silent, he stood looking at me and then said in a quiet, wooden tone “shut up, bitch. shut up.” He then reached down and grabbed my purse which had fallen on the ground, and then trotted away with a gait that I swear looked like a jackal.
Luckily my house keys had fallen to the ground in the scuffle, so I still had them. I grabbed them off the ground and walked down the stairs to the booth with the subway clerk. I said “I just got attacked, didn’t you hear me scream?” The clerk didn’t say anything to me except “I call police” and then let me sit in a small room. I was shaking uncontrollably, and crying. My boyfriend at the time came to get me.
The police showed up and asked for the guy’s description. They drove me around the block once but didn’t see him and gave up trying. They were a joke. They then called the ambulance which came to pick me up, and I was charged $500 for this, to go 3 or 4 blocks to the hospital. I couldn’t pay the bill and it’s still on my credit rating now. I know I should have applied for it to be paid by the city but I couldn’t do that at the time because I went into a deep depression after this happened.
I was taken to the hospital and X rayed, and it was found that I was ok except for bruises on my temples. The guy had been trying to go for a knock-out blow, that much is clear. What would have happened if he had succeeded? I don’t want to think about that. I will always feel deep in my gut that this attack was sexual in nature, because if it was just a robbery or an assault, why knock me out? Why the push to get me on the ground? I think it was a rapist who wanted an unconscious victim.
I am an artist so I drew a picture of the lower portion of my attacker’s face that I saw. I brought it with me to the police station when I went in. They refused to accept it. They said it would draw all kinds of suspects who were not responsible- WTF??? There’s not too many men out there with lips, jaw and nose exactly that shape, and that particular color and that weight. It’s unbelievable that they wouldn’t accept my drawing.
They also classified what happened as a mugging, not an attempted rape. They said there was no evidence. I couldn’t believe what jerks they were. I looked for him in a book of suspects but didn’t see anyone I thought looked like him. I was never called back about this by anyone- but I was harassed for months about the bill for the ambulance, X-rays, etc. I never paid them.
I had anxiety for three years after this happened, but after a period of about 6 months of extreme good health and yoga every week I was able to alleviate that. It took a lot from my life but I reclaimed my life. But every once in a while when my head is tilted as it was when I was on the ground looking up at my attacker, I get a stab of anxiety. That head position will trigger it.
I have fantasies of seeing my attacker on the street and bashing his head in with a pole or bat, or zapping him with a stun gun and then kicking his head in. He definitely deserves it. What was he going to do if he knocked me out? Carry my body somewhere? Assault me and then roll me onto the tracks? This man deserves Hell, and I will surely give it to him if I ever find him.
If you believe in calling sexual harassment what it is, stand with us as we demand accountability from law enforcement and invest in a future where women and men are safe on the streets, Click here!
This was a few years ago when I first moved to NYC. I lived in the East Village was walking to Union Square like I did every morning. A guy walking towards me sidled up beside me as I was walking by and said “I can see your pussy” under his breath and really close to my ear…I was horrified. This never happened to me when I was living in Boston. I was actually shaking after it happened, but I continued on my way. BTW – I was wearing capri pants, a large tank top and sneakers – hardly a revealing outfit. Strangely, the guys that do this to me in Union Square were always sidling up to me and saying “tsst” “tsst” “tsst” – it is so gross. They get so close to you that you FEEL like you’re being assaulted.
Submitted by Alie
Responses were mixed; surprisingly, the overwhelming majority were positive. One girl, who appeared on the verge of tears, said “Your work here is pretty hard to swallow, but it’s effective.” Others weren’t so supportive; one man said he liked what we were doing, but that the comments being projected from the recordings were “harsh”. Our response? “YEAH, THEY ARE. That’s why we’re here.”
This was taken at the Union Square 14th St station. My friend and I were waiting for the 4 train and were dressed up for Halloween. She was fighting with her boyfriend and also quite inebriated so she sat on the platform (ew, but what can you do?). I crouched next to her to comfort her. That’s when I noticed some a**hole on the opposite platform zooming in on my friend’s crotch and his flash go off. He actually walked to the edge of the platform and bent to get her crotch. I tried to alert her, but she was too drunk to move. I pulled my camera out, and he immediately hid behind a metal pillar. I snapped the shot as fast as I could and shouted some choice words at him. He hid behind that damn pillar until the next train came. I wish the photo was less blurry. I was shaking with anger. It had already been a bad night and though I’ve been harassed before, no one’s ever aimed a camera at me. It felt so violating that someone I don’t know has a picture of my friend’s crotch, and possibly me, is showing his stupid friends, and maybe posting it on the internet somewhere. He was a young guy, mid-twenties, with short black hair. He wasn’t wearing a costume, but a maroon track jacket and jeans. It was so frustrating to just stand on the other side of the platform while that perv looked at his camera. At least there’s Holla Back.
Submitted by Tara
On Sunday afternoon a random stranger attacked my friend. He came up from behind us with no warning and when I asked him why he claimed that she had bumped into him and not apologized. He knocked her teeth loose and she is covered in bruises and scrapes from how hard she hit the ground. I followed him several blocks up University Place and when I grabbed his shirt to try to keep him from running away he punched me multiple times and bit me before several guys wrestled him to the ground in front of the Whole Foods in Union Square. That’s when I got these photos.
Submitted by Cori
My girlfriend and I were reading in a cafe in Union Square. I leaned over to give her a kiss and this perv starts taking pictures with his camera phone. My girlfriend has a camera phone and suggested I take his picture. This isn’t the first time a man has taken pictures of us when we are out together. He’s definitely one to keep an eye out for if you’re gay and out with your girl.
Was on the 4 train downtown from union square the other day around 9am and this 40ish year old white man in a nice looking coat kept looking at me he then got up from his seat when the train got crowded. I thought I had moved away from him but then I felt something on my leg and turned around to have his hand going up my dress. He quickly pulled it away as I yelled you’re disgusting. He said gimme a break, come on and picked up his bag as I moved away from him and got off the train.
Submitted by Anonymous.
I feel so violated and confused! This morning, I got on the 5 train at 14th Street, and the train was crowded, but I was running late for work, so I go on. Right before the doors closed, a large man pushed in and pushed another guy right into me. I was sandwiched between two people, a woman in the front and the guy who was being pushed by someone else. The train started moving, but then I felt something else moving on my ass. I figured it was just because the guy behind me was pushed into me, but it felt like he was rocking with the train.
I started getting nervous and was trying to look around, hoping it wasn’t his hand and him getting a rather rude feel. But then I realized he had one hand on the pole in front of me and was holding his briefcase with his other hand. Now I started to feel really violated cause I think he was pushing his crotch into my ass. I could not believe it!!!! This guy was dry humping me right on the train before work, right in the middle of a crowded subway! The fucking nerve of this guy! I feel so disgusted. At first I felt bad for this guy cause he was pushed by someone else, and then he took it upon himself to rub against me! I did not get a pic, but I was even more shocked as we both got off at 42nd St, and he was dressed rather nicely in a suit! I feel so confused, angry and guilty.
Submitted by Melissa
I got on a Brooklyn bound L at Union Square; it wasn’t very crowded (for rush hour) but I was still lucky to find a seat. Or so I thought.
I sat between this asshole and another guy. As soon as I sat down, though, this guy (who is obviously pretty large) squeezed closer to me rather than making room. He had plenty of room to move over, but instead sat smugly in place. Just you’re average dick, I thought, until he started rubbing his arm against my ribs, and resting his hand between our thighs. Giving him the benefit of the doubt I asked politely, “Could you move over just a bit?”
“No,” he said, at which point I realized what his other hand was doing, “I like letting bitches know that they shouldn’t sit where their big asses don’t fit. At that a woman across from us said, “You’re taking up more room than her and him [the guy next to me] combined!” I don’t know if she or anyone else noticed what was going on in his pants. I snapped a blurry pic (I was upset) as I got off at the next shop, and congratulated him on making the site. But I didn’t feel the winner in the situation. Sometimes even such a great outlet as Holla Back just isn’t enough.
Submitted by Hannah