Thank you, bystander effect

Thank you, passengers on the Kings Highway-bound F train at around 5:45 this evening, for your stunning demonstration of bystander effect when you all silently watched a man grind against me muttering about what he was going to do to my pussy and then, when I told him to get away from me, continued to silently watch as he screamed in my face, calling me a fucking bitch and asking if I thought I owned the world, grabbed my wrist and raised his hand to me, “How about if I smack you, bitch?” Thank you for absolutely not intervening while I stood there frozen like a mouse in a snake cage unable to do anything but say, “Get away from me!” while a stranger put his hands on me and threatened to hurt me. Thank you further for continuing to stare disapprovingly at me, not at him, the rest of the way while I fought back tears, except for one older lady- and thank you especially, ma’am, for approaching me not to see if I was all right or if you could help me find a police officer, but to compliment me on my hair. I hope you all forget to turn off your ovens tonight.

Submitted by Lucy

p.s. thank you also Dad, for not only insisting when I told you about this incident that it was MY fault for not walking away (even though I told you we were on a moving train and that the dude HAD HIS HANDS ON ME) and for insisting that there wasn’t anything anyone could have done to help me and that at least the lady said SOMETHING to me, but also for slut-shaming me on account of the outfit I was wearing today and then getting upset with ME because I didn’t appreciate being lectured on what I should have done when I was visibly traumatized. I’m so glad I have such a supportive and aware male parental figure in my life, you know, to whom I feel safe relating these kinds of horrible experiences.

18 responses to “Thank you, bystander effect

  1. I am sorry that nobody did anything! You deserve better allies in the world to recognize that what HE did was awful, criminal, and dehumanizing. You did NOTHING wrong. Thank you for sharing this awful story, in hopes that someone will stand by the next person they see assaulted.

  2. Oh Lucy thats horrendous 🙁 I’m so sorry you were put through that. Maybe ask your dad to read through some of the other posts on sites like this, it might open his eyes to how often these things go on and how traumatic it is for the victims. I’m so sorry noone helped you, it breaks my heart reading this and knowing that a whole carriage full of people will stand there and do nothing while someone is assulted.

  3. Seriously? You expressed this so well it did send chills down my spine of how alone you must have felt. And instead of beating up this sick sick man, they left you there to hang.

    And then to get the worst from your father–are they pretty useless as a whole, or is that just me? 😉

    So so sorry normal people like us weren’t there to wade in and smack him down like he deserved and offer you the help *you* deserved.

  4. I feel terrible for you, but I feel like the woman who complimented your hair probably didn’t know what to say either. She was probably trying to comfort you and it came out wrong 🙁

  5. Good for you for standing up for yourself Lucy and for calling him out on all of his criminal behaviour.

  6. I’m so sorry that this happened to you, Lucy. And I’m sorry that nobody stepped in to help you out.

  7. Dad’s are the worst for this kind of thing! Mine doesn’t think sexual harassment applies to me either, even though he’s stepped out of his way to help other women in similar situations.

    This really sucks and I’m glad you got out of it ok.

  8. I’m so sorry, sweetheart–you didn’t deserve that.
    That fucker, however, deserves a high heel to the nose.
    Stay strong, gorgeous.

  9. I’m so sorry that happened. Hopefully we can all keep working toward a society where that kind of behaviour is treated with the severity it deserves. And hopefully one day your father (and, sadly, mine as well) will wake up and realize how outraged he really should be that someone would treat his daughter in such a way. Maybe it’s because he’s angry with himself that he couldn’t protect you or maybe it’s because he’s never actually seen an encounter like that with his own eyes. But it’s no excuse to treat you like that. Parents are supposed to help you, not make things worse.

    1. Kitty, my sense is that you hit the nail on the head with the father’s response coming from his own sense of inability to fathom his daughter being victimized, or his sense of helplessness to protect her from the world out there (Wear a huge bubble, dammit!). Yes, parents are supposed to help you, not make it worse. But sorry, with all our best intentions, sometimes we fail.

  10. I am honestly so sickened by what happened to you! That is a really full on example of street harassment and I can’t believe (who am I kidding, of course I believe it >_>’) no one even looked up!
    Also, permission to punch your victim blaming, slut shaming father in his ignoramus! Argh!!!!

  11. First, I am so sorry for what happened to you. It is so atrocious how prevalent this kind of behavior is in society. Sadly enough there are times I can remember when I’ve acted poorly, not this bad but enough to be shameful.

    I know we men really suck at comforting in those situations. The reason we come up with slut-shaming ‘solutions’ at that point in time is the fact we don’t realize you need to be comforted and not lectured at that time. It’s just not the way our mind works, we bring our troubles to others usually when we need help, not necessarily needing any comfort. So our default reply is to tell you how to avoid that situation in the future and identify what ‘went wrong’ in the situation you were in. And, obviously it comes across as blaming you for what happened even if that is not our intent. As useless as that gesture is, we aren’t really trying to shame you as much as we do not understand how to approach the subject. We feel powerless that we were not able to protect you, or that we were not able to prepare you to defend yourself. Which we perceive as a failure on our part, but we generally won’t say that. But it will be apparent when we over compensate and try to control what you wear or where you go ‘for your own good.’ If you haven’t noticed we turn into an island, isolated and self reliant, when confronted with a serious problem, even when we have no clue or think we do about how to handle it. Your father loves you, I wouldn’t question that, but you will have to help him help you; He wants to help but doesn’t know how. Yes he is an adult and your father, but that doesn’t guarantee that he knows how to handle every single thing. He is human and he is not perfect just like everyone else. Don’t tell him that either, just guide him to help you feel better and more secure.

    1. I’m sorry, Man, your explanation as to how poor old men like yourself and her dad need to be “taught” how to “help” is horse shit. Women are not responsible for teaching men what’s appropriate and what isn’t appropriate. We’re all adults here and we learn at a fairly early age what’s wrong and what’s right. For her dad to leave out the important FACTS of what happened to her and how it wasn’t in any way her fault is fucked up and can not be excused with a “men are weak and misguided and want to protect you” speech. So when they fail at “protecting” they in turn project? I’m not quite getting the connection. It was a great attempt Man, and I’m sure some women here actually accept your “apology”? but I think it’s horse shit and you guys need to start teaching each other what the fuck is really going on and how to prevent things like this from happening. Publicly and period.

    2. Man, empower yourself to be a better father. Then empower other men to be better at supporting the women in their lives.

      You are not the victim of your socialisation, you’re an adult, with at the very least an internet connection and probably some friends. Seek out the information you need. No woman who has experienced an assault like this should have to explain to you how to respond.

  12. I am so sorry about what happened to you, nobody should have to deal with that 🙁 For what it’s worth, I would have stepped in if were there. Nobody deserves to have that happen to them.

  13. Something similar once happened to me when a guys spent 20 minutes graphically describing to me how he was going to rape me. No one on the train helped me even though I was terrified – like you, too scared to move.

    Afterwards, when the danger had passed, I reported it along with a witness to the driver who was shocked and told me that in those kind of situations you are entitled to push the emergency button and ask for police to be sent to the platform to arrest the guy at the next stop. Although they never found the guy, I reported it to the police which was a lot of trouble (had to explain what had happened in distressing detail again and again to about four/five different people, leaving me shaking and upset each time – well done for being sensitive to trauma, British Transport Police) and they never caught the guy because the train’s CCTV wasn’t working that day and the offense wasn’t that ‘serious.’

    In actual fact, two elderly ladies who were with me on the train when I asked them to be witnesses refused and told me he’s been ‘just having a bit of fun.’ Didn’t feel that fun when I was stuck to my seat in a cold sweat, too shocked and frightened to move, hands white and shaking in my lap. But there we go.

    But anyway – the point of the story is that although reporting it to the police was upsetting and led to nothing, I still would have done it even in retrospect because I refused to just accept that that happened without repercussions – if we all reported it to the police, surely people would take harassment more seriously.

    Fyi, the day that happened to me, I was wearing jeans, flat shoes and my hair was scrapped back. Who knew a pair of ballet flats would led to overpowering lust!

    What happened to you was not your fault and I hope you’re doing ok.xxxx

  14. Had I witnessed the scene you just described, it would have been hard to hold me back from intervening on your behalf as a tough old big-mouth woman. With that character, you were outnumbered on your own, but with a crowd of even one more on your side, you would have been better off because it would have diminished the perpetrator’s sense of safety and privacy.

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