Share Your Story

Street harassment prevents individuals from feeling safe in their communities. Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault in Washington, DC? Submit your experience to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. 

  1. Submissions will be posted regularly in the order in which they were received.
  2. All submissions are posted anonymously or using the name or initials given.
  3. Please read our comment policy before posting.

Thank you for your contribution!

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. WMATA’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy, implemented in Spring 2012, is a result of CASS’s campaign.

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).

Disclaimer: Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) is not responsible for the accuracy of individual postings. All views and positions expressed in posted submissions are those of individual contributors only. CASS moderates comments to ensure that this public forum continues to be a safe space for community dialogue. CASS may use any stories submitted to the blog in future CASS materials.

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73 thoughts on “Share Your Story

  1. Pingback: in dc: ain’t no holla back girl | urban bohemian

  2. Last night I was walking home alone at about 10:00pm along North Capitol Street in the Bloomingdale/Shaw neighborhood. Two men in their late teens or early 20s were walking towards me and another, older, man was walking in from of me and entering his house. As the two younger men walked past me, the one closest to me reached out to rub my arm and said, “Hey, gorgeous.” I pulled my arm away and started walking more quickly. He continued to yell back at me,”Can I take you to dinner, boo? Can I take you out, baby?” After I kept walking and didn’t respond, he said, “Oh you’re so mean, boo.”

    Eventually the harrasser stopped yelling at me, but neither of the other two men around said anything, even after my visible discomfort, leaving me to wonder why men find this sort of behavior normal or acceptable at all! Is this some sort of a power trip? Or maybe a learned, sexist behavior that has been normalized for them?

    I had recently completed a training with the much-touted Marty Langelan, which was great, and I felt prepared to respond to street harrassment with a confident, “Stop harrassing women. Show some respect!” However, in the moment I just froze. I felt disgusted and violated, angry and annoyed. I should have said something and hopefully next time I will, but it’s hard to be confident and quick when you are taken aback in the moment…

  3. Trying to put this together in my head: walking the dog down Wisconsin Ave. Pass by 3 boys that look about 11 or 12. After I pass I hear “hey nice ass” and some muttering about my dog. I turn around and say “Really? THAT’S what you say to a woman walking by you? Please! You’re like, TWELVE.” No one will look at me. They’re all looking at the ground and they slowly separate. I have this desire to emotionally scar them for life but choose not to.

  4. A little positivity:
    I had an experience recently that seemed like it might end up as a negative, degrading street harassment experience. I am very tall, and dressing in shorts and skirts (even long ones) for the hot weather has produced some gross commentary about my legs. However, the other day, I was walking down L street under the Convention Center overpass when I saw two teenage boys walking toward me.

    My heart sank – these boys looked like they had just gotten off work; they were in matching uniforms, that were untucked, and were joking with each other like they were blowing off steam. They also fit the physical stereotype of street harassers that, hard as I might try to ignore, I often get confirmed in my experiences in DC. I prepared myself, but something great happened:

    Looking me straight in the eye, both boys said “Hello.” I replied, “Hi.” Then, without saying anything insulting, or commenting on any specific part of my body, they paid me a compliment.
    “You look great!”

    I smiled, said thank you, and went on my way. They did not call after me, or comment further. I felt like an attractive person who had been seen as a whole person, not a collection of sexual objects.

    And, yes, even this level of attention could be considered harassment for some. It is important to acknowledge that some women don’t want strangers to comment, even respectfully, on their appearance. I am usually one of those women; I am made uncomfortable by such comments. However, I felt this was an overall positive experience.

    (And before the commenter who likes to suggest that positive experiences come because women are attracted to harassers, and that’s the only difference, let me say that I’m in my 30s, and not interested in teenagers. What made this experience positive was exactly what I’ve said above.)

  5. So I’m all dolled up for a joint birthday dinner date with the husband, but since I left my metro pass in the house and am slow moving in heels, the husband ran back to get it while I waited at the entrance for him.

    Not 30 seconds after he leaves, this random man walks up to me, and starts talking to me “You’re so pretty, that dress is beautiful…” I interrupt him with “Please, sir, I’m waiting for my husband and I’d like to do so in peace.” He keeps talking, I repeat my request. He asks to take my picture. I say absolutely not. He offers to PAY ME to take my picture. I’m now offended instead of just overly annoyed. “Um, no. What the hell would possess you to ask me that question? Who do you think I am to you?” I respond. Since my voice is raised, the metro operator comes out and asks ME why I’m giving the dude such a hard time.

    I don’t answer because by this time the harasser has slunk away, into the metro stop. The husband gets back and we end up on the same damn train car as the harasser. The dude starts apologizing to the husband… “I’m sorry, you’re so lucky, your wife is so beautiful, I couldn’t help myself….” blah, blah, blah. The husband, to his credit, says “You know the reason I’m so lucky? I know better than to speak to women that way. You owe her an apology, not me. I don’t own her.”

    The funny part was that the harasser at this point looked around the car for someone to aid in his defense and, finding everyone glaring at him like the tool he was, told the husband he was whipped and stormed off. Of course the husband would stand up for me, but it was nice to see the rest of the car supporting the both of us. Hopefully, they’ll stand up for the next woman.

  6. I saw this video on NYmag.com. While I think I started watching because of the novelty of a video tagged as “tiny rapping child” (though the boy in the video looks more like a young teenager), I quickly realized that what he’s rapping about is actually related to street harassment. His message is to “stop looking at my mom” and he proceeds to rap a message to men who give his mother unwanted attention and asks them to stop. The video depicts examples of his “mom” and other women getting unwanted attention – I recognized it as street harrassment. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I only wish that the men engaged in street harassment would heed the message to remember that when they treat women with disrespect, they are doing it (likely) to someone’s mother (or sister or daughter). Here’s the link if you want to see the video: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/10/tiny_rapping_child_asks_you_to.html

  7. This happened earlier this spring. It was a Wednesday evening; I was taking the train from Friendship Heights, where my dance studio is, to my home in Silver Spring. While on the train I was reading a book about polynesian culture and I was sitting on the inside seat. The trian was fairly empty. Out of nowhere a large man in a green coat came up behind me and sat on top of me. I was shocked and thought it was an accident, so I ignored him. He began mumbling and I realized he was making comments about the book I was reading. The more he spoke the more the comments escalated; he began by saying things like, “You think you’re Tahitian? Tahitian chicks are hot,” which led to, “I’m going to put my penis in that tiny white vagina of yours.” That’s when I turned to him, looked him in the eye and sternly said, “Stop talking to me RIGHT now.” The guy became angry that I rejected his advances and immediately replied, “this is a free country. I can do whatever I want.” He turned his music up loudly and began burping in my face. His burps and belches were coming every 10 to 45 seconds and they continued for the next three to five minutes. Because I was in the window seat, I was afraid that if I stood up and tried to move he would grope me. I tried to think of something to say and I tried to scream, but I just froze. I couldn’t get anything out. Finally, another passenger–a man–asked the harasser to have some respect. This again made the harasser angry, but instead of retaliating he left the train at the next station.

    When I made it to Silver Spring, I reported the incident to the Metro Police. They came out with rape kit test and when I told them I had not been sexually assaulted, only sexually harassed, they told me what had happened was not a crime and essentially lectured me about turning mole hills into mountains. I tried to explain that if this guy did this to me, he’s probbaly going to do it to other people and it will probably escalate, but they didn’t seem to take note or even care. They did at least take a description of the man.

  8. It sucks that I am able to list off incidents like this every few weeks.

    Recently, I was carrying a bunch of heavy bags early in the morning, heading down the hill to work. A few guys were hanging around a house – looked like they were doing some kind of work on it – and of course I veer into the road rather than walk past them. I didn’t notice that one dude was standing in the middle of the street. He was tall, had long dreadlocks, and was actually pretty handsome. But he was saying something to me, so I discreetly turned down the music in my earbuds long enough to hear something along the lines of “How you doin’” or “What’s up girl” . Sigh. I jack my music way up and resume speedwalking down the hill.

    What happened next I genuinely didn’t expect – he followed me literally ALL THE WAY to the intersection, which is 4-5 blocks. He followed me screaming and cursing obscenities, how dare I ignore him, bitch, and describing the things he would do to me. I was actually terrified and shaking, half breaking into a jog but still trying to pretend that I didn’t hear him through my headphones. I kept checking his reflection in my phone to see that he actually did follow me until I got to the semi-populated intersection. As soon as I saw him retreat, I called my mom and my husband.

    Ugh. I can never escape this shit. I work part time at a store, and am starting to dread when men come up to my register. I don’t even like interacting with them anymore. I get defensive and hateful.

  9. This story isn’t recent, but three years later I am still annoyed and disgusted thinking about it. I wish Hollaback had been around then, so I would have thought to get a photo of the jerk who verbally harassed me or in some way react to the guy rather than just letting it happen. I can’t go back, but I can at least share my story and think about how I’ll respond next time.

    In 2007, I worked for a big company in northwest Washington, DC. I lived in Arlington, Virginia and commuted every day by walking, through a pretty nice residential neighborhood to the metro.

    One morning, about 7:30 AM, I was taking my usual walk to the metro near the Court House station (orange line). I was dressed in pretty formal business attire, with a heavy coat on over my clothes because it was spring and still cold. I had huge sunglasses on that seriously took up most of my face. Nothing was tight-fitting, hell, I barely had any color on. I was pretty much dressed in all black with my black peacoat and black slacks on. That, the fact that it was broad daylight, or that the sun had barely been up an hour, or that I was walking through a nice family neighborhood and right next to an elementary school, didn’t stop some jerk from harassing me. (But we’re always “asking for attention,” or these things wouldn’t happen, right? Ugh.)

    Just a few blocks from the metro, while on N. Adams St. between Key Blvd. and 16th St. N, a guy in a red pickup truck came from around the corner in front of me and then pulled up next to me. He slowed down, rolled down his window, and proceeded to whistle, hoot and holler at me. “Hey baby! What you doing? Hey baby! Looking good!” [Smooch noises, kissy faces.] I just looked straight on and kept walking. He kept at it another minute, then revved his engine and drove off. I flicked him off and kept walking to the metro.

    It bothered me all morning. I felt angry, violated, confused, embarrassed. It was so unexpected that early in the morning and in the kind of setting I was in when it happened. I felt completely caught off guard and like I was powerless to stop it. If I felt all that just from some creep yelling at me from his vehicle, I can’t imagine how violated other people must feel when men choose to actually physically violate them, flash them or direct hateful slurs at them.

  10. Pingback: Tracking Part II | Holla Back DC!

  11. Pingback: Three Ways to Report to WMATA | Holla Back DC!

  12. Pingback: CASS: Moving Forward | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  14. Pingback: Grabbed, then verbally assaulted at Metro stop | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  15. Pingback: Groped in front of her grandfather while at Metro station | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  18. Pingback: Flashed while walking home from the metro | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  19. Pingback: Confronted sexual harasser taking photos of women’s bodies on Metro train | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  26. Pingback: “Sometimes I tell people about it, laughing…but I think about it every day” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  27. Pingback: “…Ignoring the person angers them, which results in a heightened barrage of abusive language” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  29. Pingback: “I put my head down, broke eye contact & hurried my pace” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  30. Pingback: “Baby, don’t you want to dance for me?” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  32. Pingback: “It made me realize how dangerous DC is for the LGBT community” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  34. Pingback: “You should be ashamed.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  35. Pingback: “Chase it down, grab it, push it, shout as loud as you can (scream if you want to), hit 911 on your cell, spray it with pepper spray. Fight back.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  36. Pingback: “Stop the Silence” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  38. Pingback: “I just wanted to get away” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  39. Pingback: “I felt humiliated, violated, and ashamed.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  40. Pingback: “[I] took a route that was twice as long but didn’t force me to walk past the group of men again.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  41. Pingback: Stalked and harassed while biking to work | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  42. Pingback: “I kept moving closer to the window, trying to ignore him but he kept getting closer.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  45. Pingback: “When I ignored him, he grew annoyed and said, ‘You a ugly b****.’” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  46. Pingback: “You shouldn’t talk that way to women on the street!” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  47. Pingback: When Standing Up to Sexual Harassment Makes You a B*tch | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  48. Pingback: “I’ve never been fully comfortable on the Metro since.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  49. Pingback: Harassed during cab ride home | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  50. Pingback: “They shouted insults at me” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  51. Pingback: “I took a detour back to my house because I was so frazzled.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  52. Pingback: “There isn’t a week that goes by that I wish I’d screamed at him:” Metro masturbator | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  53. Pingback: When Standing Up to Sexual Harassment Makes You a B*tch | Fem2pt0

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  55. Pingback: “I am still angry about having to make the choice between sunshine and safety.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  56. Pingback: “I’d been yelled at before but never had anyone be persistent and follow me.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  57. Pingback: “I stick him with my hat pin to let him know that I know what he’s doing and I won’t tolerate it.” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  58. Pingback: “Sleeping” groper on 90 Bus | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  59. Pingback: “I wish I could feel safe & walk down the street in my own neighborhood without worrying about which man will be the next…objectify my body” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  60. Pingback: “I wish I could feel safe & walk down the street in my own neighborhood without worrying about which man will be the next…to objectify my body” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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  69. Pingback: “I, too, am a human” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  70. Pingback: “It was unsettling but I am proud that I still stood up for myself” | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

  71. Pingback: Followed on foot in Shaw | Collective Action for Safe Spaces

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