“I felt as if I had no control…”

posted in: Arlington | 11

I was in Arlington and walking to the train station. When walking on Quincy Street, I walked past a guy who was loading groceries into his car, which didn’t seem out of the ordinary, until he started calling at me.

“‘Scuse me, sweetheart,” he says. I know he’s trying to hit on me, and I don’t want to talk to a man I don’t know. I continue walking, he continues calling at me.

“Excuse me, lovely…excuse me, sweetheart…hello?…hello?..

.hello?” I continued to ignore him and walk. Though it was daylight out still, the street felt isolated to me, and I just didn’t want to respond to him. He gave me a funny vibe.

He then starts calling me names.

“Yo, Bumpyface!” he says. “Bumpyface. You got acne. You’re a bumpyface. You’re ugly.”

I know I don’t have the best skin in the world, and I am very touchy about it. His comments were so cruel. I don’t get how I was so “lovely” that he wanted to talk to me one minute, to being an “ugly bumpyface.” I pulled out my phone to snap his photo to submit to your site. At the time, he (and his friend who was in the vehicle) were laughing and thought it was funny.

angry harasser

“That’s why I didn’t respond to you in the first place,” I snapped. “Men like you have no respect for women. I don’t know you, and don’t want to talk to strange men.”

I spoke in a calm manner, I didn’t curse, so I don’t know why the hell he went from 0 to 60.

He got in my face, started thumping his chest, and approached me as if I were someone his own size.

“What you say to me? What you say? Huh, huh? Say it again, bitch, say it again! Fuck you bitch! Take my picture, bitch! That’s right, bitch!”

I started walking away, and he followed me.

“Fuck you, bitch! I HATE BLACK WOMEN!” he ranted. “I’m tired of black women! Black women ain’t shit! Black women are ugly! I don’t give a damn about BLACK WOMEN! Stupid bitch!”

Once again, if you hate black women so much, why talk to me?

He got really close to me and acted like he was going to punch me. He kept swinging fake punches close to me, and though he didn’t actually hit me I became fearful for my life. I started backing up into the street, even though cars were coming. I then started running, and he ran after me. I tried calling the cops on my phone, but I was nervous and couldn’t think straight because this guy was right in my space. Luckily some kind of action came into me. I saw someone getting into his car and yelled “CALL THE POLICE!” at the top of my lungs. He ignored me, got into his car and drove off.

The harasser finally got tired of chasing after me and terrifying me and ran back to his car, laughing. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a clear shot of his license plates. I just know they were Virginia plates (from their font style), and the first part was J_C (I don’t know the middle letter, and can’t remember the four numbers).

I finally managed to call the police, and ten minutes later (after this guy and his friend were long gone) an officer came. I showed him the photo I took of the guy, but his reaction was pretty nonchalant.

“You don’t know this guy, right?” he asked.
“No, I’ve never met him before,” I said.
“And you said you don’t live in the area, so you probably won’t see him again,” he said.
“But it’s scary that he just started cursing and swinging punches at me,” I said.
“This is actually a pretty safe neighborhood, ma’am,” the officer said. “And there’s not much we can do since you didn’t get his license plate. You probably won’t see him again since you’re not from here, but in the rare chance you do see him again give us a call.”

That was the least reassuring conversation I’ve had with an officer. I didn’t know how to react. I felt numb. I spent the rest of my walk in a numb zone. I stared at my feet and became non-responsive. People walking by brushed past me on the street and knocked into me, but I didn’t react. I felt as if I had no control over my own body and actions anymore and that’s the worst feeling in the world.

Walking home from Metro was hell. It had become pitch black and men were still trying to talk to me on the street. I once again didn’t respond, and thankfully they didn’t respond in crazed anger.

I can’t talk to my family and friends about this because they think I take a lot of risks when I’m out alone. They’d tell me I shouldn’t have taken his photo, they’d tell me I should’ve just responded to him when he tried to initiate a conversation with me, and they’d tell me I should’ve kept walking when he started to insult me. It’s not fair that I have to do everything as to not upset a harasser, but harassers can do and say what they please. Even if I did respond to his initial catcalls at me, and even if I just walked away and not done anything, there’s no guarantee that he wouldn’t have still gone mad.

After today, I have no choice but to be a docile, submissive woman. I don’t know what else to do. And after knowing the police don’t have my back, I have to do everything in my power to protect myself.

Location: N. Quincy Street (between Wilson and N. Glebe) – Arlington

Submitted by Fearful
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11 Responses

  1. JJ

    Do not take a docile mindset. Retake control of the turf where this happened. Even if you never see him again, return to this place and the basic errands you ran there. It’s your turf, not his. And it’s clear he gets his groceries there, and will probably return. Stake the motherf$@#r out, be cool, don’t confront him, but get his license plate number and call the police while he’s doing his grocery shopping. Have a cop waiting for him when he exits (hopefully with his abused wife or gf by his side). Make him pay. Again, even if he never shows up, retake control of your turf.

    • Fearful

      “Even if you never see him again, return to this place and the basic errands you ran there. It’s your turf, not his.”

      It’s not my regular neighborhood. I was looking at a place in the area to consider moving to. I was on the fence at a unit I looked at until this incident. After that incident I won’t be moving to that specific section of Arlington. Other things in that area, such as it being isolated and there being a lot of men catcalling in one specific spot, cemented my decision to not move to that part of Arlington.

      But if I do spot this guy again, I hope to be more vigilant in getting his plate number. I don’t know why my simple rejection caused him to snap like that. I don’t understand it.

  2. JJ

    oh and take some mace with you. make him cry like the baby he is.

  3. AB

    I am sorry you had to go through this, but the fool was looking for a response from you and you gave it to him. If I were you, I would have kept on walking and not responded. Then he would have felt like the idiot that he is.

    • hollabackdc

      At Holla Back DC!, we believe in engaging our harassers if an individual feels empowered to do so. There is no right or wrong response to harassment and we all have to decide for ourselves when and how we want to react.

      For more ideas on engaging harassers read this post.

  4. Didi

    I have to agree with AB. And I understand where you’re coming from about letting people decide how to react to harassment. But, after spending many years working in a public library and having to deal with unstable people who can flip that switch from normal to in your face crazy in a split second, I can tell you the best lesson I learned is not to engage the person. Because whether you mean to or not, you are escalating the situation.

    This kind of guy wants you to get upset. Wants you to engage. Wants to have a reason to go apeshit. You are giving him what he wants when you respond. It does not mean you are docile and taking crap by not responding. It means you are keeping yourself safe. The most I will ever say to a guy catcalling is “yeah, my husband’s a fan too” and keep walking.

  5. lacochran

    I’m not sure what police can do given the limited information you had.

    I do think you were wise to take his picture.

  6. ninyabruja

    The police were incompetent: you were being menaced. I would go to that precinct station and report everything that happened. Sometimes a partial plate number IS enough to track someone down.

  7. Peg

    I’m so sorry for your experience. I’ve been there and know how terrifying it can be. Thankfully, I’m of an age now that I don’t attract that kind of attention. Nevertheless, if (God forbid) it happens again, hold your head high, smile bravely/casually and tell the guy you’re in a hurry and can’t stop to chat. It might disarm him enough that he backs off, realizing he doesn’t scare you, much less attract you. Good Luck!!

  8. restaurant refugee

    There is no part of this story that makes me proud of men in this area. The “I can’t be bothered to help a woman running from a man” guy’s behavior is almost worse than the police officer’s but I’ll direct my ire at the person whose job it is to help.

    The moment he verbally threatened you, that guy committed a crime. He continued to commit serious and gateway crimes as he threw punches intimating violence and chasing you. I took a quick look at that picture and identified the vehicle (without the aid of anything but my memory) as a 1988 – 1993 Jeep Cherokee, red with black step bars. How many old jeeps fitting that description are running around Arlington? This police officer’s work was done lazily and with an appalling lack of empathy.

  9. AD

    Should have keep walking and not engaged.