3 Things Capitol Hill Residents Can Do to Make Their Community Safer

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3 Things Capitol Hill Residents Can Do to Make their Community Safer

*TRIGGER WARNING*

After three similar attacks in the Eastern Market area this month, the community voiced their concerns that women are being targeted for violence. In one case, a young woman was forced by her knife-wielding attacker into an alleyway, where he pulled up her skirt. When she resisted, he stabbed her in the neck and ran off with her possessions. These attacks and subsequent community outcry come on the heels of a public sexual assault that was perpetrated around the Minnesota Ave. Metro station in March.

Our hearts go out to residents of both communities. To any of our followers in those areas: we are here as a resource for you as you work through this problem, and we encourage you to reach out any time.

And when we heard reports that the MPD representatives at Wednesday’s safety meeting in Capitol Hill were encouraging women to not walk around late at night and avoid carrying bags, we were concerned.

Too often, the immediate response to a crisis of safety is to ask women to restrict their movements and change their behaviors. This “solution” places power in the hands of perpetrators and fails to protect the people who have to move around at night for work or any other reason. Instead of focusing on how victims can change, try something new: harness the power of the community and send a message that victims will be supported and perpetrators will be held accountable. In other words, take collective action!

Here are just three examples of what form that could take, inspired by things that have happened right here in DC (there are many, many more great examples from around the country and the world!):

  1. Talk to your neighbors about what sexual aggression looks like and how to safely step in when they see something happening (call us up if you want to be trained on bystander intervention!).
  2. Get everyone together to work on a public art project that puts anti-violence messaging where it can’t be ignored.
  3. Organize a demonstration to show that your community stands together against violence, like the one put together in 2012 by concerned Bloomingdale residents after two of their neighbors were targeted and attacked for their sexuality.

Again: we are here as a resource for folks who want to take organize their community to end public sexual harassment and assault! Email zosia@collectiveactiondc.org with your questions or training requests. Any other ideas, thoughts, or words of support for the people of Deanwood and Capitol Hill? Leave them in the comments — and then get out onto the streets!

Sexually Assaulted in DC: “I No Longer Feel Safe Walking Home From the Library.”

Street Harassed in DC
Street Harassed in DC: “I No Longer Feel Safe Walking Home From the Library.”

Location: 2nd & E St NW (Union Station/Capitol Hill)
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

I was walking home from the library when a man walked up to me with open arms. He put them around me and began kissing my face. I asked him to stop, [but he] grabbed my chest and butt. He kept kissing me and kept his arms around me, I kept asking him to stop. After a few minutes, he finally let me go. I no longer feel safe walking home from the library.

Submitted 4/28/14 by “JJ.”

Do you have advice or support? Leave a comment!

Take a stand against public sexual harassment and assault: Donate now.


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. You can 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).

“I Reported An Incident of Public Masturbation On Metro.”

posted in: Capitol Hill, WMATA | 0

Location: Blue/Orange Line towards VA, Federal Center SW
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

I got on at Eastern Market, a few minutes after 11 am on a Monday morning, at my usual door (last door, second to last car) to expedite my travels upon my arrival at my destination. The car was relatively empty and I locked eyes with a young, attractive, well-dressed man upon getting on the train. I noted the look in his eyes. I kept to myself, playing on my phone, until looking up to see what stop we were pulling into when I noticed him stroking himself out of his pants, with his dick pointed at me. I didn’t say anything, but I probably physically reacted. I got up and got off the metro since we’d just pulled into Federal Center SW. I tried to snap a photo of him through the window, but he never turned around.

I reported the incident to station manager who called ahead to get the train stopped at the next station. The station manager recommended I not sit in the back of the metro, but closer to the operator in the future, which I get is good advice, but I should be able to sit wherever on the metro and not be at risk. I also made a statement to the police. I was disappointed to learn that there are no cameras on the metro cars. I saved Metro PD’s number in my phone for the future.

He was young (maybe 25ish), wearing a lumberjack, ear flap-style hat and a dark grey or blue wool jacket. He never said anything to me. He never reacted to my reaction to him. He never turned around to see what I was doing after I got off the metro.

Submitted 2/3/14 by Anonymous.


UPDATE: This reader’s submission was also published by Prince of Petworth. She has also written into CASS with more information:

This is the fourth time in 10 years, I’ve experienced similar harassment on public transportation – once in Rome, once in Boston and twice here in DC. I think this was the most aggressive incident, and certainly the only one with an exposed penis. Prince of Petworth (PoP) published my story a few hours after the incident happened. Not long after, PoP received another very similar account from a woman who experienced a public masturbator on Metro later that evening. The man she described was wearing the same clothes I reported, so I feel confident that it was the same perpetrator, but I can’t say so definitively.

The Metro station manager did mention that he has spoken to other station managers about this and knows it is a growing problem and wanted to say the right thing, but didn’t really know it was.
He did something to the effect that he knew he’d never be able to fully understand what it is like as a woman to witness this behavior. But his advice that I strategically sit close to the Metro operator in order to avoid instances has some problems. I purposely ride the metro so that I’ll be at an escalator at my arriving station. (I don’t like the idea of being trapped alone or isolated at the end of metro platform and much prefer to be the first one up an escalator, particularly on nights and weekends.) If I followed his advice, which may be wise while on the train, when I would arrive to my home station I know I’d be the farthest from the escalator by being closest to the operator, which would leave me feeling vulnerable.

NOTE FROM CASS: As many CASS followers know, we helped push for WMATA to implement its first-ever reporting and tracking system for sexual harassment and assault in 2012. Starting in 2014, all 3,000 of WMATA’s frontline employees — including Metro Transit Police, bus drivers, station managers and more — will be trained in recognizing and responding to public sexual harassment and assault. We’re sending this post their way to make sure they know this can’t come soon enough.

Take a stand against public sexual harassment and assault: Donate now.


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).

Street Harassed at the Bus Stop: “I’m not your ‘big momma!'”

Location: Pennsylvania Ave & 8th St SE (Eastern Market)
Time: Evening Rush Hour (3:30pm-7:30pm)

On the way to a dinner meeting for work, a man approaches me who is also waiting for the bus. I didn’t know how to reply to his “Hi, big momma.” I think I said, “….hi” and anxiously awaiting for the bus to arrive.

Submitted 10/1/13 by Anonymous.


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).

Street Harassed in Capitol Hill

Location: 8th Street, SE, Barracks Row (Capitol Hill)
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

Walking hastily to meet some friends, I was running late. I heard a man say as he watched my walk by, “Mmmmm… Look at all that jiggle.”

Submitted 10/1/13 by Anonymous.


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).

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