Friday, February 11, 2011

Subway harrassment

Posted by: Ellie

I got on the 4 train at Brooklyn Bridge at about 11:30 last Friday. A man was sitting with his legs spread wide, taking up two spaces. I approached him and asked him to make room for me to sit, as I have asked a million people before him. For the first time, my question was met with a mean, empty stare. I waited, then said, "You won't make room for another person?" And he said nothing, and a man sitting across the aisle from him made room for me and I sat down and took out a book. That's when the first man started to threaten me. "That bitch thinks she can look at me? I'm going to smack the shit out of that bitch. I'm going to smack the shit out of her." He seemed to be speaking to himself, but the man next to him chimed in, "That bitch is stupid." I got off the train five stops later and they never stopped repeating those sentences. And I was scared, because he was bigger than I was, and because if he had followed me off the train, I wouldn't have been able to fend off an attack. It didn't occur to me to contact the authorities until about twenty minutes after I'd gotten off the train, and by then it was too late to catch him.

I guess the reason I wanted to share this story is because when I did contact the police, they were nothing but helpful. I was worried that they'd say I shouldn't have been on the subway alone at night, or give me some stupid violence prevention tip, but the only thing they said along those lines was that late at night, it's best to sit in the conductor's car. I wish I had contacted them as soon as I'd gotten off the train, from the station. I wish I had looked for a transit worker to complain to. If I had reported it sooner, they could have caught him. I want to encourage people to report subway threats as soon as they are received.

The other thing is that although I was on a crowded train (so crowded that I asked a man to move over for me), nobody stood up for me. I know everyone keeps to themselves on the subway, and I'm not offended. But if just one man had spoken up to that man, it might have made a difference. Possibly. I don't know.

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