Nicola’s Got Nerve | Issue 1

Dear Hollaback! Readers,

My name is Nicola Briggs, and many of you may have heard of me from this website. In late November of 2010, a video of me confronting a sexual predator on the subway was posted on YouTube, and Hollaback! published this video, which has now been seen by well over one million people. This recording, made by an anonymous bystander, was of a very intense and difficult moment for me. I had just realized that a man standing behind me had been trying to rub himself against me, and when I turned around, I saw that he was completely exposed, wearing a condom. At first, I thought I was seeing things, it was so surreal. “Could this stranger really be standing in front of me like that? This can’t be happening to me…” Then the creep tried to cover himself up with his messenger bag, but I needed to make sure I wasn’t going bonkers ~ so I grabbed the strap of his bag, and yanked it away from his body, and there it was again, in all it’s little glory.

When the perpetrator saw the expression on my face, he knew it was on, and hastily mumbled “I’m sorry.” But his sociopathic reaction, which showed no understanding whatsoever of the gravity of his actions, was the final catalyst for me to respond in the way I did. As many of you saw from the video, I announced to the entire subway car what he’d been doing, and let him know that he wouldn’t get away with it, and was going to prison. (Insert numerous expletives.) I also enlisted the support of other passengers to help me detain him, and shame him, all of us taking pictures with our cell phones. Upon exiting the train, the perpetrator was immediately arrested by transit police. He was then convicted, is now a registered sex offender for life, and was also deported at the end of his all-too-brief prison term.

Oh yes, oh fucking yes.

It’s about time that we show the sexual predators of the world that we will not accept “business as usual” anymore, and that we refuse to sit in silence and pain any longer, as we are victimized just because of our sex. When a woman is faced with someone trying to violate her personal boundaries, it is completely appropriate that she raise her voice and GET LOUD. In fact, her physical, psychological, and spiritual survival depend upon it. I’m writing you now to encourage you on that path ~ and to let you know that I’d like to share alternative ways of successfully defending yourself, if and when the need arises. I’ll be writing a weekly column, called Nicola’s Got Nerve, which will be a frank discussion of street harassment, dominance, awareness, and methods of self-defense for women in public. It will be a supportive forum where you can ask me questions, and where I will address your concerns about traveling through the city in safety and with confidence. My years as a Tai Chi instructor, and the fact that I’m only 5’ tall (and won’t take crap from anybody!) have prepared me well for this moment in my life. I hope to share with you what I’ve learned on my own journey, to make yours easier, and look forward to getting to know you!

Peace and Balance,

To submit a question to Nicola for next Monday’s post, please email it to her here.


5 responses to “Nicola’s Got Nerve | Issue 1

    1. Kristin,

      Thanks for being so supportive! Re: the condom ~ In fact it was the condom itself which I think, and also from the D.A.’s perspective, was an incredibly damning piece of evidence against M. “Valdiviant.” When he was caught doing the EXACT SAME THING to another woman just a month and a half later (while out on bail, no less), he wasn’t wearing a condom, but was apparently carrying a styrofoam CUP. Guess his legal representation told him that wearing a rubber wasn’t too bright….


  1. When I saw the video of you defending yourself I was in awe of your courageous and effective reaction. I felt that many women in that horrible situation would take strength and inspiration from you. I also thought that of course you are entitled to your privacy and don’t need to come forward and talk about it. But I hoped you would and you did. I’m one of those imposing looking males who never gets any trouble from people, and I don’t let anybody try to victimize anybody when I’m around. Usually it’s just chasing threatening panhandlers away from tourists. But a few weeks ago I saw a small version of it. I was on a crowded 6 train and as a guy was exiting the train, he said scuse me and then I saw a woman he was passing give a very distressed expression and adjust her skirt. He was long gone before I realized what happened. I thought to myself that woman was just victimized should I console her. Tell her that guy’s a jerk. But I figured the last thing she needs is another subway guy. Thank you for writing this column and helping all women know that these horrible men can be stopped.

  2. Excellent, so glad to hear about your new column. I had a similar experience on the R train last week. I posted my story on this site (see April 8th). I felt totally empowered when I was able to detain the pervert. I learned of your experience after I came home that night and Googled info on exposure on the NYC subways. I am happy to say I got a call yesterday form the Manhattan DA’s office, and the perpetrator is being arraigned on May 6th. I plan on being there in court, just so I can give the creep the stink eye in my power suit.

    It’s time we clean up NYC subways – no passengers should have to deal with this kind of disgusting c&*p. I hope the police and MTA start taking the problem seriously, and that we can be a part of the solution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *