Reported Public Masturbator to 911: “I hope more women out there feel empowered to shout back and to report what you see.”

Location: 13th & Kenyon NW (Columbia Heights)
Time: Late Night (12am-5am)

A female friend and I decided to walk home from Wonderland late Saturday night. It was past last-call but before the bar closed. The street was deserted, save a few cabs and cars that drove by. As we walked down the north side of Kenyon, toward 13th street, something caught my eye a few house-stoops ahead. A man was sitting in the shadows looking our way. It was late. My “spidey-sense” went off.

As we neared, I took a cautious glance and saw that he was publicly masturbating on the stoop. My friend must have seen the change in my expression because she looked, too. Our reactions were visceral and as we showed our disgust, the man grinned even wider, clearly pleased with himself. His grin pissed. me. off.

"Our Streets, Too" anti-harassment march in DC, June 2011.
“Our Streets, Too” anti-street harassment march in Washington, DC, June 2011. Photo via Stop Street Harassment.

The whole sequence happened within seconds, but I started yelling at him and my friend joined in. We yelled that he was filthy and perverted and disgusting. With our safety in mind we kept walking and yelling as I pulled out my phone and called 911. He must have heard me make the call because he jumped-up, grabbed his bike and rode away like a bat out of hell. I reported the incident to the operator as well as the fact that we were OK and that this man had left the area.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve encountered public masturbation. What made Saturday night different was that it was the first time I actually did something about it. My disgust/anger spurred my action to verbally confront him (at a distance) and to report him.

In retelling the story to my fabulous CASS supporting roommate, I learned that calling 911 is the right thing to do. While I wish the entire episode had never happened, I also feel stronger for knowing that I did the right thing in defense of safer streets. I hope more women out there feel empowered to shout back and to report what you see.

Emphases by CASS.

Submitted on 2/27/13 by “CB”

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:
Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. Recommended tip: Program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.