Metro Stalker

 Cross-posted from Stop Street Harassment:

Although I am verbally and sometimes physically harassed literally every time I walk to and from the DC metro to my workplace, the most recent incident was the most disturbing.

Waiting in the metro station for my train, i heard a male voice saying “Hey sweetie” over and over again while I read a book, and then was approached by a very tall male who proceeded to “praise” me with what he must have considered “compliments” about my appearance. He asked a series of questions, very aggressively, so I felt pressured to comply and answer, though I lied about my name and where i was headed, where I lived, etc., and did not feel comfortable telling him, I’m a lesbian, I have a long-term partner, because those sounds like excuses with the potential to infuriate. He grabbed my hand and wrote his number on it, pressing so hard it cut my skin, and proceeded to ask about me calling him, demanding details about this future call.
When the train arrived, he got on the same car as me, despite telling me he lived in the opposite direction of my train. I tried to sit away from him, but he continued trying to speak with me across rows of seats and passengers. At a high-traffic stop, I snuck off behind another passenger. When he spotted me through the large window on the platform, he was obviously very angry, and stood up. He was moving quickly for the door, but they had shut and the train was moving. I let a few trains pass and took a longer, more complicated transfer pattern from train to train to ensure I didn’t see him again.

While the entire thing was obvious annoying, it goes beyond that – that kind of control exhibited over you in a public sphere is disempowering and disoriented, and shakes a person’s sense of confidence and safety. The anger on his face and his attempt to get off at the arbitrary station I chose sincerely lead me to believe he had plans for following me to the false end-point I’d told him, which is TERRIFYING unto itself, but especially in conjunction with the series of media stories detailing the indifference and non-action of public transportation attendants/others in the general public.

Submitted by Jess on 11/19/2009
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4 Responses

  1. rhane

    I really do think this is something you should take seriously, his aggression doesn’t seem normal and the fact that he was willing to grab your hand means he doesn’t appreciate physical boundaries. You should definitely consider telling the police about him; there is no telling how many other women he’s done this to and what he will do in order to ensure the next woman won’t slip away. Although the police probably won’t go out of their way to stop him, having a record is a small step towards a safer community.

  2. Friday Jones

    Plus, he gave you his phone number, so he can be tracked down by the police for cutting your skin when he wrote the number on your hand. That’s battery isn’t it?

  3. J

    As an ardent male ally, I have to say I am troubled by the number of stories on here that involve women tolerating a certain level of interaction with the perpetrators.

    They have already violated your boundaries, they have no sense of propriety, and may be dangerous. They are complete strangers, who may be VERY dangerous.

    By interacting with them, at all, you have no idea how their twisted mind is reacting. Perhaps they believe you are willing for them to take their behavior a step further.

    There are a few very chilling stories on this site, where women who failed to completely cut off contact and remove themselves from the situation, ended up in a terrifying confrontation later on (in a Metro parking garage, in one instance).

    Stop being polite. “I felt pressured to comply and answer, though I lied about my name and where i was headed, where I lived, etc.,” Why? Why in God’s name would you be polite and cooperative, in any way whatsoever, with a complete stranger who may have very bad intentions?

    I really have noticed this thread in too many stories, and I’m trying to start a respectful dialogue with what are my genuine questions of bafflement in reaction.

  4. E


    I sense some victim blaming in your post. Unless you have experienced this type of harassment, don’t assume that we are wrong for responding the way we respond. There is a sense of helplessness, and no matter what we do, we are at the losing end of the stick. No matter what we do, we are being harassed. We can respond with anger, with the silent treatment, whatever we so choose, but we have no control over that other person. We only have control over ourselves.

    Only until people like you, a “male ally”, can stop with the victim blaming and let their inherent male superiority down, can things begin to change for the better.