“I witnessed a man talk about taking advantage of an intoxicated woman on the Metro. What can we do to intervene?”

Location: Blue Line, Pentagon Metro Station
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

This happened a year ago. My friend and I were riding home on Metro after class, around 10pm. Across the aisle from us (the seats that face each other) was a girl who had a little too much fun at happy hour. She was barely staying awake. As we were approaching Pentagon station, she got up to get out. As people were filing out, a middle-aged man who was sitting next to us got up, bent down and commented to me and my friend about “going home with her tonight,” and got off the train just as the doors were closing. As the train pulled away we could see him go up and talk to her.

We were stunned. I wanted to help but I did not know what to do. My stop was the next one but what would I have reported? Yes he was unbelievably inappropriate but I don’t feel like I saw enough. There interaction could have ended on the platform for all I know. Still bothers me when I think about it. Watched the news for days afterward seeing if anything did happen and was reported to police. Luckily I never heard of anything.

I would appreciate some guidance on what I could have done to help her in case I ever witness this in the future.

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 5/6/13 by Anonymous

Sex without consent = sexual assault; Don’t Be That Guy Campaign


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): www.wmata.com/harassment 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.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).


2 Responses

  1. renee

    This is Renee from CASS. Thanks for sharing this story. Many of us have witnessed situations like these, but few of us are trained in bystander intervention (something CASS is working to change!). Even so, knowing how to (re)act is difficult, especially when assessing your own safety.

    Per helping out others in public, folks should intervene if they feel it is safe to do so. In a situation where an intoxicated woman is at risk by a stranger, one could intervene by pretending to be the woman’s friend, so that the perpetrator gets the impression that the woman is NOT alone and therefore as vulnerable as thought. You could also talk to the woman, noticing her lack of safety, and ask if she had a friend she could call to pick her up, perhaps even helping her with her phone, connecting with someone, and waiting until that happened. Metro Transit Police (MTP) also have a call line (202-962-2121) to receive immediate help if you see anyone in danger, and MPD can always be reached as well.

    We’d love to hear more ideas in the comments. In the meantime, here are some great resources on bystander intervention:

    When to step up? Experts advise how to diffuse troubling situations

    Bystander Responses, Stop Street Harassment

    Bystander Intervention, Men Can Stop Rape

    Bystander Intervention Resource, National Sexual Violence Resource Center

  2. Jamar Nunez

    This is yet another scandal plaguing the Air Force and the military as whole, prompting legislators to introduce bills that would help prevent sexual harassment and assault.