83: The Number of Stories You Sent Us in 2013

Collective Action for Safe Spaces - 12 Days of CASS
83: The Number of Stories You Sent Us in 2013

As part of our 12 Days of CASS series highlighting facts about our organization and our community, we’d like to explain what this number means to us —

Your submissions play a crucial role in educating us and the rest of the community on how street harassment is experienced by people in DC.

If you’re still not convinced that your voice makes a difference, check out the submission below from Salma, a woman who was motivated to *chase down* her attacker after reading the stories on our blog.

After we published Salma’s post, her WJLA ABC 7 picked up her story. Later, Salma gave an empowering talk at CASS’s October 2012 Meet & Greet, “Let’s Make Change Happen!”

“Putting In The Effort To Catch Him Wasn’t Just For Me – It Was For All Of Us Who Are Subjected To Disgusting Behavior Day In And Day Out”

Location:  Union Station (escalator to mezzanine on east side of First St., NW)
Time: Day Time (9:30am-3:30pm)

It was just like any other Friday morning as I headed to physical therapy on the metro at Union Station. I was immersed in a phone conversation with a good friend as I stood on the escalator heading towards the mezzanine. I didn’t want to get in the way of anyone, so I made sure to stand on the right side of the escalator. Three-quarters of the way down, I felt a hand behind me as it made its way between my thighs, graze my vagina, and back towards my butt. For a nanosecond, I froze…I wasn’t aware there someone was standing so close behind me. I began to scream once it registered that a pervert had sexually assaulted me. Now at the bottom of the escalator, I turned around and confronted the perpetrator. I yelled repeatedly (hoping someone would do something): “This man assaulted me!” and “This man touched me between my legs!”. He told me that I was: “Crazy”, “Making it up”, and (of course) “It didn’t happen” – familiar phrases also said by the perpetrator who sexually assaulted me in the District almost one year ago.

I then started to yell even louder attempting to get the attention of Metro employees, but unfortunately to no avail; not one person there did anything to intervene, deescalate the situation, restrain the individual, or even call police. The confrontation must have lasted for around one to two minutes, by which time he exited the station. Women have a natural tendency to be caretakers and advocates for others, but it is much more difficult to give ourselves the same attention. I thought of the stories shared by women on CASS who are subjected to this same bullshit on a daily basis…and I quickly became filled with rage. Determined to make sure this pervert did not get away – like the one on the bike in Dupont Circle – I called police, then began chasing him by foot for six to seven blocks. I knew that there was no way this guy was going to get caught if I didn’t follow him. Just as I thought I lost him, five police cars arrived on the scene, and they were quickly able to locate him – get this – inside of a church “sweating bullets”. The stories shared by all of you gave me an insane adrenaline rush that caused me to go chase after this guy down North Capitol Street, NW.  Putting in the effort to catch him wasn’t just for me – it was for all of us who are subjected to disgusting behavior this day in and day out. And it doesn’t need to be this way forever…we just have to have the courage to continue sharing our stories. Keep up the good work, gals (and guys)!

P.S. Needless to say, I am incredibly disappointed with the (lack of) response by Union Station Metro employees at the time of this incident. I did not expect them to chase this guy with me, but at the very least, the Metro employees should have at least walked over to see what the raucous was all about. The incident has been reported to Metro.

Submitted on 7/25/12 by Salma
Emphasis added by CASS.

See how Salma’s story attests to the importance of our work? Then donate to CASS’s end-of-year fundraising campaign! Your donation means we can continue to give victims of public sexual harassment and assault a forum for empowerment and support.

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This post is part of 12 Days of CASS, our end-of-year series to highlight the work we’ve done in 2013 to prevent public sexual harassment and assault in DC.