“I felt humiliated, violated, and ashamed.”

Location: Lake Anna State Park, VA
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

I have hesitated to share this story, as only few people know to this day, and I still feel ashamed (although, I know I shouldn’t). However, I feel it’s better to alert people to what had happened and draw awareness to it, in order to prevent something similar from happening to someone else. We were camping at the lake, and I had gone into the water for the swim. The lake was crowded that day, as it was a holiday weekend. I went in by myself, and after floating around for a few minutes, I felt a man’s finger in my vagina through my swimsuit bottom underwater. I immediately thrashed and kicked to get him away, and was overcome with panic. I yelled for the lifeguard’s help, and scanned around me to figure out who it may have been. But, with the cover of water and the crowds that day, it was impossible to identify anyone. After a moment, the lifeguard had made her way to me. I explained to her what had happened through my tears. I felt humiliated, violated, and ashamed. She brought me to shore, and I told my story to a senior staff person, and then a police man who arrived shortly thereafter (the park staff and the police man handled the situation wonderfully, and thanks go out to them). The police man told me that this wasn’t the first time this had happened there. This became distressing to me that this guy most likely uses the cover of the crowds and water on a consistent basis to sexually harass women because he knows the chances of him getting caught are slim. Meanwhile, I feel shame whenever I think of what happened, and I am embarrassed to tell anyone what happened. I become panicked when I’m around crowds, fearing something similar could happen and always feel as if I have to be on guard to protect myself since this happened. However, I hope that my story, and others on this blog, can help bring more awareness to this problem, and possibly prevent future assaults. It can happen anywhere with any number of people around. The more people who report and talk about it, the more nervous it will hopefully make those who commit these crimes.

Submitted on 7/15/12 by Anonymous

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system:
Please consider reporting to Metro Transit Police; www.wmata.com/harassment, on Twitter at @WMATAharassment, or 202-962-2121.

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

3 Responses

  1. John B
    | Reply

    Anyone who read this story knows that you summoned much courage to tell it.

    That was the easy part.

    The difficult part is finding a way to heal.

    I hope that you have sought counseling, but if you have not, please do so.

    Perhaps this center will help you: http://rcasa.org/

  2. […] The everyday threat of sexual violence Together, Binkerd, Gilbert and Gorman show that when women share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault, something happens: They start a wild fire. The three blog posts, which were written immediately after each author’s experiences, epitomize the threat that women face every day when riding the bus (like Gilbert), taking the subway (like Binkerd), and walking down the street (like Gorman). According to a 2008 study by Holly Kearl, a shocking 99 percent of women reported experiencing street harassment, including honking, leering, whistling, kissy noises and sexist comments. Almost 30 percent had been followed at least six times, about 60 percent said a man had purposely blocked their path at least once and almost 40 percent have had a stranger masturbate at or in front of them at lest once in public. A 2012 study by Hollaback! and Cornell University found 20 percent, or 1 in 5, victims of street harassment reported experiencing anger, and 14 percent felt fear. Within a culture of victim-blaming, many women experience humiliation and shame. […]

  3. […] Together, Binkerd, Gilbert and Gorman show that when women share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault, something happens: They start a wild fire. The three blog posts, which were written immediately after each author’s experiences, epitomize the threat that women face every day when riding the bus (like Gilbert), taking the subway (like Binkerd), and walking down the street (like Gorman). According to a 2008 study by Holly Kearl, a shocking 99 percent of women reported experiencing street harassment, including honking, leering, whistling, kissy noises and sexist comments. Almost 30 percent had been followed at least six times, about 60 percent said a man had purposely blocked their path at least once and almost 40 percent have had a stranger masturbate at or in front of them at lest once in public. A 2012 study by Hollaback! and Cornell University found 20 percent, or 1 in 5, victims of street harassment reported experiencing anger, and 14 percent felt fear. Within a culture of victim-blaming, many women experience humiliation and shame. […]

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