Location: Pennsylvania Ave and K St NW
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)
I am a small girl, and I’ve simply gotten used to the fact that anytime I’m out alone after dark, I feel scared. Most of my friends are guys, and didn’t understand this, So I asked then what they would do if, while waiting for a red light to change, a strange man came up within a foot of me going “excuse me, I just want to talk to you.” Or if a car, 2 blocks from the white house, even, slowed to the pace of my walk and followed me for 3 blocks asking what was in my backpack. My friends were surprised by what happened, but more upset by how normal I felt it was. The status quo for girls shouldn’t be harassment on every walk.
I was walking from foggy bottom to dupot after dinner with a friend a few weeks back when I was reminded how terrifying this could be. I’m used to watching shadows so I don’t have to keep turning around to see if someone is behind me. I saw a shadow, and as the man got closer, very close, I realized he was at least a foot taller than me, and not even two feet away. I didn’t want to say anything to him that would provoke him, and I was worried starting to run would do the same. I could probably have out-distanced him with a head start, but he was so close, I wouldn’t have made it 10 yards before he caught me. This flashed through my head in the second between when he came up behind me, and when I saw his shadow raise its arms. I jumped to the side and was about to run when he turned to me and said “roar! I’m the big bad wolf”. Then he started laughing and asked me my name.
I still don’t know if he was trying to attack me, or just thought he was being funny. I still don’t know what the right way to handle this would be. I jabbered in French until he got bored of trying then went as fast and far in the other direction as possible. My friends joke about how this just makes my life a fairy tale to cheer me up, but it’s not funny, and it’s not ok. Walking as a woman isn’t a crime, isn’t an invitation, and shouldn’t be a constant source of fear.
Submitted on 7/23/12 by “RB”
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.
If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system:
Please consider reporting to Metro Transit Police: www.wmata.com/harassment; 202-962-2121.