“A Kind Man Stopped to Check on Me”: Bystander Help Along Rock Creek Park

Location: 16th St. and Floral St., Washington, D.C.
Time:  Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

On Saturday afternoon, a man attempted to attack me while I was out running. As I passed him, he began to aggressively catcall me, using very derogatory terms. I gave him a dirty glance to show that I did not find his comments amusing and then continued on my way. I heard him yell “fuck you” at me but ignored it. 15 seconds later, I heard footsteps rapidly approaching behind me, and turned to see him sprinting towards me with his hands out like he was trying to grab me. I ducked just in time, yelled for him to get away from me, and luckily there was a break in traffic just long enough that I could shoot across the street and sprint away as fast as possible without him following. A kind man who saw the attack stopped on the side of the road to check on me, and stayed with me while I brought my adrenaline down and heart rate back to normal. This was obviously very frightening for me, but it brings up some facts that I think are important for everyone to think about.

First – this happened at 3 pm, on a very busy 16th Street in a nice neighborhood near Silver Spring. This was not in a dark alley or late at night. As sad as it is, this kind of thing can happen any time. So whether you are a runner or just out walking about, it is important to always be aware of your surroundings. I do not run with headphones. Had I been, I might have not heard this man approaching. So if you do tend to wear headphones while out, please only wear one.

Second – this type of behavior is completely unacceptable. Catcalls can have a very negative and violent undertone, and no one should accept this. Women especially are faced with this kind of verbal abuse far too often, and when we respond negatively, are called “bitches” or other derogatory terms. This is not ok. We should never have to accept verbal abuse because we are afraid of retaliation. Further, I wish people who make catcalls would take the time to think about how upsetting and disrespectful they can be. It does not make anyone feel good to be yelled at or catcalled – at best, it makes people feel uncomfortable. This is not the appropriate way to get anyone’s attention.

Third – if you see something that seems off occurring between two people, do not be afraid to help. I am grateful to the man who stopped to help me, but there were many cars and people out that afternoon, and he was the only one. Do not hesitate to check in and make sure that everything is kosher if you see something weird – the kindness of strangers never goes unappreciated.

Finally, this incident made me think about respect in general. We live in a society where respect should be a priority, but far too often I am faced with the reality that many people do not show it towards others. It is upsetting, and we all need to do our best to change it. I know I am not alone in having experienced something like this, and I encourage others to speak out about it and not accept this type of behavior, so that we can make a real change to how we interact with others in our daily lives.

Submitted 1/13/16 by “R.L.”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share 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).

DC Deserves to Be Safe: “I Reported a Case of Indecent Exposure to DC Police — And I Will Again If Have To!”

Sexual harassment in DC's Rock Creek Park
“I Reported a Case of Indecent Exposure in Rock Creek Park — And I Will Again If Have To!”

Location: Harvard St. and Adams Mill Road NW (Adams Morgan)
Time: Morning Rush Hour (5am-9:30am)

I was returning from a weekend jog along Rock Creek Park, heading up the Harvard St. exit of the Zoo into my neighborhood. As I was hiking up the pretty steep hill there, I heard a whistle to my right, up in the leafy area well above the road. A man was standing there wagging his fully exposed penis at me, his pants around his knees. I immediately looked away and kept walking. My initial reaction was, “that was weird.” Followed by, “that made me feel uncomfortable.” Then, “actually, I’m kind of angry about this.”

It took a good 15 more minutes before I realized that this was an actual crime and I should be taking action. I called DC police, who handled the situation very professionally. When I shyly mentioned that I wasn’t sure if this was a dull-fledged crime, the operator said, “Oh yes, ma’am, it IS definitely a crime.” I felt a lot better.

I talked to my sister, who pointed out that a flasher by the Zoo was particularly concerning as so many families and children go by there — which prompted me to then follow up with the Zoo police.

I still jog past the spot where I saw the guy–it’s unavoidable. Every time, I have to remember what I was forced to see against my will. And I really hate that and don’t want anyone else to experience that.

In the future, I wont hesitate to report this kind of behavior.

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 10/08/13 by “eb.”


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).

A Male Perspective

posted in: Rock Creek | 5

I was jogging in rock creek wearing a t-shirt and shorts and a car with at least two women honked and at the same time the women yelled “woohoo” and kept driving. No guy should have to experience this, it’s unwelcome and disrespectful. Women in DC should know better.

Submitted by KP

Location: Rock Creek Park

Time of harassment:  Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

Indecent Exposure

While out walking between 10:30 am and 11:30 am on Monday, January 18th a man exposed himself to me twice. The first incident occurred while I was walking into the park as I proceeded under the 16th Street bridge a man was sitting on a bicycle and as he watched me go by he was clearly massaging his penis through his pants. I tried to ignore him but felt really pissed off as I continued my jog into the park. When I reached my turn around point, I began to head back to where the incident occurred. I decided that if I saw him again I would say something.

As I approached the same spot I could see him from a distance. He was no longer on a bicycle and as he emerged from the trees, he stood and unzipped his pants and took his penis out of his pants. He was masturbating and jerking his penis all around and I started yelling, “What the F*&% is wrong with you?” He began to take a few steps away but we maintained eye contact and I continued to yell expletives at him and give him the finger. I was so mad the rest of my way home. I didn’t have my phone on me, and I kept looking for a cop to drive by so I could report the incidents, but of course I never saw one.

Submitted by em on 1/19/2010

Location: Piney Branch Road, Rock Creek Park

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.

Indecency on Porter Road

So, it wasn’t verbal harassment, however…I was walking home from from the PetCo in Cleveland Park, down Porter Rd towards Mt. Pleasant, on Sunday morning. I was just crossing the overpass when I noticed a bike leaning against the guardrail on the street side to my left. As I get closer, I turn my head to the right and notice a young guy (15-25 yrs) standing only 5 feet off the sidewalk in the weeds, masturbating and staring at me. He didn’t say a word. Neither did I, I just sped up and didn’t acknowledge him at all. Sometimes, I wish civilians were able to carry Tasers.

Submitted by Anonymous on  10/6/2009

Location: Porter Road Overpass, NW

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify.