Street Harassed at the Bus Stop: “I Would Have Thrown You Through That Glass Window”

Location: G8 bus stop at 11 & M Street NW (towards Avondale)
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

This happened several years ago. I was sitting in the bus shelter at 11th and M Streets NW in the dark at roughly 8:00pm. A man was sitting next to me. Another man walked over and started unlocking a bicycle near the bus shelter. This second man said hello to me. I think I smiled or nodded in response but don’t think that I spoke to him (I don’t remember exactly). He began to repeat “hello” in an increasingly aggressive tone and then he switched to “hola” and continued in a very aggressive tone. I felt uncomfortable and scared.

The guy seated next to me in the shelter didn’t react in any way. Nonetheless, the presence of this bystander made me feel less alone and afraid than I might have if he wasn’t there. Finally I said politely to the harasser, “Please leave me alone.” At which point he aggressively responded with “This IS me leaving you alone. If I wasn’t leaving you alone then I would have thrown you through that plate glass window” (indicating the window of a restaurant on 11th Street near the bus shelter).

I was trying to figure out if I should run away, or take out my phone and call the police, or ask the guy sitting in the shelter to stop ignoring the situation and help, or what. Then the harasser got on his bicycle and rode away. After that, the guy sitting next to me in the shelter took out his ear buds and said to me, “On behalf of all men, I apologize.” Of course at the time I blamed myself for not being friendly to the harasser in the first place — as if it was my fault that he harassed me.

After this incident, I switched to using the bus stop at 11th and K Streets, which feels much safer because there are generally lots of people there outside the hostel. For a while every time I passed that bus shelter at 11th and M, I felt angry — angry at the harasser for making me feel so powerless, and angry at the bystander who ignored the situation until after the harasser left.

Even though this happened a while ago the memories and feelings came back to me when I discovered this website and read other people’s stories. Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story. (I may not remember everything word-for-word as this was several years about but this is the gist of what was said.)

Submitted 10/28/14 by “M.”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

Has CASS Made a Difference for You?

Have any of the stories we’ve shared empowered you to take action? Had you always wanted to respond to a street harasser, and our work inspired you to do so? Did you take a training or workshop of ours and leave with valuable skills? Maybe you intervened in a harassment situation, called out harassing behaviors among friends, or simply felt more confident and empowered?

However CASS made a difference for you, we want to hear it! Hearing from you is the best way for us to learn about our impact. Your feedback will be instrumental for our grant and fundraising work, in addition to helping us learn our strengths!

Please take a moment to let us know. Thank you!

Just Two Weeks Until #GivingTuesday!

Last year, community members like you donated a total of $19 million to nonprofits on #GivingTuesday.

It’s a simple idea. Support CASS on the third annual #GivingTuesday on Tuesday, December 2, and become part of a global day dedicated to giving back – as well as part of a local movement for good that’s spreading through the DC community.

Pledge to donate to CASS on #GivingTuesday,Tuesday, December 2! 

Did we mention that your Giving Tuesday contribution will be doubled? That means whatever you give helps us twofold!

CASS is a labor of love. We’re a grassroots nonprofit that’s fueled by the hard work and immeasurable passion of volunteers committed to ending sexual violence. From our workshops on bystander intervention training to our public advocacy with DC Council, WMATA and more, your donations help us create a safer DC.

Give back to your community – pledge to support CASS on #GivingTuesday!

Finding Non-Criminal Solutions to Street Harassment

Here at CASS, we think that the key to ending public sexual harassment and assault is true collective action, action that values every voice — including yours — and center the experiences of the most marginalized. In our writing, workshops, and more, we encourage you to find creative, community-based solutions to make your neighborhood, school, or workplace more safe. Calling upon law enforcement is just one intervention out of many.

We think that offering this variety of interventions is empowering and effective — and the research agrees — but there’s more to it, and it’s time we made that explicit. We stand in solidarity with the many survivors and community advocates from communities of color who routinely experience harm from a legal system that perceives them as more “criminal” than others. From their work, we know that the criminal legal system perpetuates and inflicts structural and interpersonal violence against women and LGBTQGNC individuals. We share – and are working to realize – their vision of a world where we overcome the racist and sexist legacies of our nation’s criminal legal system; where individuals are held accountable for harm they cause, and justice works to restore communities instead of tearing them apart.

While developing our strategic plan over the past year, we reviewed our organizational values. And, though we have always stood against further criminalization of harassing behaviors in public, it wasn’t explicit in our original value statements. Starting now, we want to be clear about committing to working with you to find non-criminal solutions to the problem of public sexual harassment and assault. After lengthy discussions and drafting sessions, we’ve added the following statement to our organizational values:

CASS acknowledges that the criminal legal system perpetuates and inflicts structural and interpersonal violence against women and LGBTQGNC individuals, especially those who are people of color. For this reason, CASS does not support further criminalization of public sexual harassment and assault as a strategy to end public sexual violence, and encourages the community to look outside the criminal legal system to address the entrenched structural aspects of this violence. CASS also values the right of every survivor to choose the path that they feel will lead them to healing. In cases in which survivors choose to engage with the criminal legal system, CASS is committed to ensuring that its responses are survivor-centered and trauma-informed. (Emphasis added.)

This is about holding ourselves, and you, accountable for hearing every voice. Some of you may not identify with this new value. Others may find that it resonates deeply. Wherever you stand, we hope that you are with us when we say that it’s only with every voice valued and accounted for that we can address this complicated and entrenched problem. This includes the voice of the person standing on the street corner with you, the person driving the bus, the cyclist next to you, and the law enforcement officer in your neighborhood — people who share your experiences, and people who don’t.

In this same vein, we want to be clear that CASS will always support the right of every survivor to choose the path that will lead them to healing, including the choice to engage with the criminal legal system. We are committed to working alongside survivors and advocates in our community to ensure that the system’s response to these survivors is trauma-informed and survivor-centered.

Check out our organizational values to learn more, and reach out to us at info@collectiveactiondc.org with your thoughts, questions and comments.