“No one stepped in to help me.”

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Time: Morning Rush Hour (5am-9:30am)
Location:Southern Avenue Station Bus Bay

I’m sexually harassed on a near-daily basis as I walk through the Southern Avenue bus bay to get to the metro station, but today was out of the ordinary. Two guys walked past me; one made some comment directed at me that I didn’t hear, and the other asked me, “Can I call you?” I replied, “No. Go away,” to which the men responded by laughing and mocking me, repeating “Go away” in a high-pitched voice. It was eerily similar to an elementary school playground. Not one of the approximately 20 people waiting for buses stepped in to help me as I walked away.

Submitted 12/13/16 by “JW”

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).

“He promptly started rubbing himself.”

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Time: Evening Rush Hour (3:30pm-7:30pm)
Location: Between McPherson Sq and Metro Center

I’m 5 months pregnant and was happy to find one empty seat on the metro train. I sat down next to a man who promptly started rubbing himself over his jeans.

Submitted 11/23/16 by “BL”

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).

You Deserve to Feel Safe

This month, a new series of anti-harassment PSAs launched on the Metro and Metrobus system. The project is a collaboration between Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), Stop Street Harassment, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

Now, more than ever, our work to build safe public spaces is critical. Within the past few weeks, we’ve seen a spike in reports of harassment across our city — especially targeting people of color, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming people, and people who are part of multiple marginalized groups. Harassers take advantage of trains and buses as environments where their targets can’t easily escape, making public transit an important space to address the problem.

The new awareness campaign has three goals:

  1. Support people who experience harassment with messages letting riders know they deserve to be treated with respect.
  2. Promote a culture of bystander intervention, where everyone is responsible for speaking out against harassment and making public transit safer.
  3. Elevate our city’s most marginalized identities by featuring the faces of people who are part of marginalized groups, such as trans women of color and Muslim women, who face harassment most severely and most frequently.

In addition to training for WMATA’s frontline staff and supervisors, this anti-harassment campaign helps to create a culture of safety and community accountability.

We have a long way to go to ensuring public spaces are safe for *everyone,* but we remain committed to empowering the DC community to speak out against harassment and create public spaces where everyone feels respected and safe.

“He placed a newspaper over his lap and began stroking himself.”

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Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)
Location: Silver Line Metro (Foggy Bottom to Rosslyn)

I was riding the silver line home from DC when a man sat down next to me. There were plenty of seats on the train, but he chose the one next to me. I feel like he chose me because I was busy studying and not paying attention to what was going on in the train. He placed a newspaper over his lap and began stroking himself. When I looked at him, he would stop, but when I looked away he would continue. I grabbed my belongings and said I am getting off the train, and he said “have a nice day.”

I was disgusted and went straight to the Metro police to report the incident.

Submitted 10/18/16 by “JP”

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).

“If It’s Unwanted, It’s Harassment”: Working with WMATA

At CASS, we have a long history of working with WMATA to make transit safer for *everyone.* But not everyone knows how this relationship got started, and why we even started the partnership in the first place.

As we’re about to launch our latest joint campaign on October 7th, here’s a little history.

Back in 2012, CASS attended the DC Council Performance Oversight Hearing on WMATA to Recommend How to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Assault. There, our team, along with private citizens and street harassment expert, Holly Kearl, testified about public sexual harassment and assault on the transit system. This testimony was backed by personal accounts as well as hundreds of incidents of public sexual harassment we collected over three years on our My Streets, Too blog. At least 30 percent of of the stories we heard took place on or around transit stations, trains, buses or bus stops.

We recommended a three-pronged approach to curtailing these crimes: a public awareness campaign, data collection, and training for employees and transit police on how to address sexual harassment.

The first phase of WMATA’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign launched in April 2012 with an online portal for individuals to report incidents to Metro Transit Police, along with improved data tracking of incidents. Information submitted through the web portal is immediately transmitted to Metro Transit Police for follow-up action, and people who report incidents have the option of remaining anonymous.

Later, ads instructing metro-goers on how to report incidents of sexual harassment were displayed at 28 metro stations throughout the city. The new posters, fliers, and handouts produced in English and Spanish were intended to raise awareness about the issue of sexual harassment in public spaces and encourage victims to report incidents to police. The Metro Transit Police continued unprecedented tracking of all reports of sexual harassment incidents.

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In early 2013, CASS met with WMATA to follow up on its anti-harassment work, including feedback CASS has received from the community, positive outcomes, and the continuing need for WMATA to implement staff training on sexual harassment and assault. WMATA updated its online reporting portal to enable Metro-riders to more comprehensively report incidents of sexual harassment or assault. Julia Strange, former Director of Programs and Policy, testified on behalf of CASS at the DC Council’s performance oversight hearing on WMATA.

 

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Following months of collaboration with CASS, Stop Street Harassment, and other community partners, WMATA released its second round of anti-sexual harassment PSAs in early 2015. The PSAs, based on community input, used gender neutral language and address perpetrators of sexual harassment, rather than just those who are harassed.

Over the past year, we’ve continued to work with WMATA to refine ads that grab the attention of the community, and that highlight the diverse range of experiences of those who experience harassment. Look for our new ads on October 7th!

To help support our work to make DC’s public spaces safer for *everyone,* can we count on you to become one of our monthly donors? Learn more and join the Collective Action Circle today.  

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