Location: College Park Metro (Maryland)
Time: Evening Rush Hour (3:30pm-7:30pm)
I got on the second to last car at the College Park metro stop last Friday evening. A guy (young- late teens or early 20’s and dressed well) either got on after me or moved so that he was directly in front of me (the seats that face each other around the doors.) No one else was in the car. I was reading and didn’t notice what was going on for a bit, but then he say “hey” to get my attention and I realized he had his pants were pulled down and he was masturbating.
I was pretty terrified but had sunglasses on so kept on pretending to reading and ignored him because I knew there was no one else in the car and I didn’t know what to do. He put everything away by the next stop and more people got on but I was so uncomfortable and shocked I just stayed put and ignored him. He kept staring at me and other women who had gotten on the train. I had to get off at Ft. Totten and I didn’t want him to think I was scared of him, so I exited the door right by him and under his breath he was mumbling “spread your legs” over and over again. He didn’t follow me.
I was too overwhelmed and angry to call the cops right away or take a picture. I just wanted to forget about what happened. But I had nightmares all Friday night and after talking to friends decided it would be best to report it to the metro transit police. They were extremely prompt in taking my statement and told me what happened to me is a crime.
I will not be getting into train cars by myself anymore especially because I have to travel this way home everyday. It also made me jumpy about most guys, since this was never someone I would have been afraid of. What kills me is I have thought through these situations. Should I stay silent, move away? Hit the intercom button? Take a picture? I was afraid he would escalate the situation if I did anything so that is why I tried to just ignore him. What is the opposite of how he wants me to react? I was in a dark tunnel with just me and this guy.
What should I have done? I’m still not sure. However one thing is for sure- next time I will report it immediately to the transit police. And there will be a next time- this is the third time in my life a stranger has masturbated in my view, but it was the first time I couldn’t walk away from it.
Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 6/18/13 by “S.”
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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.