I hesitated to share this story because I felt embarrassed – ashamed even – that I was sexually harassed twice in one week. I am the woman who was accosted by the naked man in a ski mask masturbating on Monday night on P street. I went to talk to a therapist on Thursday morning to try to get past that horrific event as soon as possible. We had a good session and planned a series of sessions starting next week for me to undergo EMDR: a non-invasive psycho-therapy that is often used to help dull unwanted recurrent images. This technique is considered an effective treatment for trauma by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs and is often used for veterans with PTSD.
I left the therapist’s office Thursday morning excited about the prospect of starting this treatment next week and started walking toward the Silver Spring metro to go to work. I was almost to the metro when a young male walked towards me and reached out, grabbed and squeezed my crotch. I felt so defeated that this could happen to me right after my therapy session, which I scheduled to get over what another man subjected me to on Monday night. Nevertheless, I was angry and spun around and yelled at the top of my lungs at him “What the #%&* are you doing? I’m calling 911 right now!” He responded “I’m so sorry, maam” as if that would make up for it. I dialed 911 and he started walking away slowly.
911 didn’t pick up right away but when they did, about 5 minutes later 3 police officers showed up and split up to go look for him. I told him he started walking down Colesville Road. They didn’t find him but filed a report under 2nd degree assault. I told them that if they found him I could identify him in a line up (he wasn’t wearing a ski mask like the other man) and that I would press charges.
I’m upset and shaken up for a number of reasons.
– I keep thinking why did this happen to me again? What am I doing wrong? What’s wrong with me?
– I questioned what I was wearing – jeans and a long sleeve shirt on Thursday and knee-length shorts and a tank top on Monday – and I thought what if I had worn a cardigan? What if I had worn a baggier jeans? Could I have avoided this then? Even though I know it shouldn’t matter what you’re wearing, nothing could ever justify this, I was saddened to see myself falling into this self-guilt line of thinking that I have heard about my whole life but never understood because I had never experienced anything like this. I understand now. I don’t know why it happens but I understand how women blame and question themselves.
– After the incident Monday night on the P st. bridge I promised myself I would pick up some pepper spray immediately but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I’m just so mad at myself. If I had had the pepper spray I could have defended myself on Thursday morning and I would have had full legal cause to due so since he assaulted me physically. Also, I could have handicapped him long enough for the police to get there. Yesterday, afternoon I went to the hardware store and bought pepper spray and a whistle.
– Also, what’s wrong with men? Why are they so aggressive? Seriously, you don’t see women pulling this stuff on the street. You don’t see women taking off their clothes and masturbating in public or grabbing other people’s genitals in public places. Obviously, not all men are like this, but it is largely a problem caused by men. I think we make excuses that it’s our culture’s fault, or that men just have a stronger sex drive than women, but that’s not sufficient. We need a larger more serious dialogue on what’s gone wrong with these men because something is terribly, horribly wrong.
Anyway, I’m posting this in the spirit of sharing the story. Hopefully that will have a healing effect that I’m not keeping it all inside and that it’s not anything to be ashamed of. I was proud of myself that I was stronger in Thursdays incident than I was on Monday. I found the breath in my lungs to yell and I wasn’t as frightened. I’m going to start taking self-defense and if something like this ever happens again, and I pray it never does, I will be even stronger.
Submitted by Anonymous
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