Cleveland Park Resident Takes A Stand Against Street Harassment!

Last week, Lucia, a Chevy Chase resident, wrote a message to the Chevy Chase listerv about experiencing street harassment from a construction worker working on her street. She confronted the harasser during the first incident, but the harassment happened a second time when she later walked down her street with the 3-year-old child she nannies.

“I can understand how some might feel that repeated harassment could have been avoided, simply by walking down another block,” she wrote. “But I live here, and I am not in the wrong. I should not have to avoid walking down my own street for fear of harassment.”

Lucia shared contact information for the architect with the listserv, noting that “if others have had a similar experience, please do let this construction company know. I refuse to put up with it day after day until their project is done.” Her call to action spurred a torrent of supportive emails and calls to the construction company by her neighbors. The company soon got in touch with Lucia and let her know that they would address this problem with her harasser, even offering to facilitate a conversation between them.

We’re so pleased to see a community take *collective action* to support a survivor of harassment! BIG CASS props to Lucia for showing us the power of raising your voice and engaging your neighbors. We’re continually encouraged by evidence that companies are listening to concerns and taking public sexual harassment seriously — including, relatedly, trivializing stereotypes of construction workers as harassers.

As our friend Holly of Stop Street Harassment points out, there’s still much work to be done, and Lucia’s story shows us how speaking out and challenging the normalization of street harassment is within our power. We welcome you to speak out and share your own stories with us any time, anonymously or not.

With Lucia’s permission, the story is reconstructed below through email exchanges between CASS and Lucia and the Chevy Chase neighborhood listerv.


To: ChevyChaseCommunityListserv@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Thursday, May 16, 2013 9:19 AM
Subject: [ChevyChase] Harassment – Livingston St. construction site

Yesterday, in the early afternoon as I walked on Livingston towards the Starbucks on Connecticut, I passed an on-going residential construction site.

Several workers were on-site near the porch area of the home. One of them decided to start harassing me via cat-calls. The others laughed. He was doing so quite loudly, in Spanish. I speak Spanish fluently. I sped up the sidewalk, but it continued. I turned around and said “Excuse me?” in Spanish and left. More laughter.

30 min later, I walked back down Livingston heading home. This time I had my 3yr old charge with me.

Same exact harassment. I was so disgusted and angered by the lack of respect, especially in front of a child, that I decided to take action. I informed them that their comments were not appropriate, appreciated or professional. I snapped a picture of them with my cell phone and let them know that the construction company they worked for would be hearing from me. I don’t think they would approve of their employees harassing women on a job site.

On a side note; I noticed that other women (Caucasian) were not harassed, even just a few yards away from me. Perhaps the thought process was that I, a young Hispanic female, would be an easy target.

I can understand how some might feel that repeated harassment could have been avoided, simply by walking down another block. But I live here, and I am not in the wrong. I should not have to avoid walking down my own street for fear of harassment.

If others have had a similar experience, please do let this construction company know. I refuse to put up with it day after day until their project is done.


Follow-up Email from Lucia to the Cleveland Park Listserv:

The first person to contact me was of course the architect, who had the misfortune of posting the one piece of use-able contact information on the construction site. He was shocked and gave me the contractor’s name. He also offered to phone the home owner and make her aware. Unfortunately, as the day  progressed, he started to receive concerning phone calls and emails with negative remarks on his business associations. Clearly, he had no say on who was hired for the job.

 

The home owner was appalled. She called her contractor who in turn assured us that he would speak with the person involved directly. I did speak with the contractor. He explained to me that he had sub-contracted a roofer who had been on this particular job site for the first time yesterday. He had asked for several references before hiring him and was  surprised to hear that said roofer had harassed me. However, he set up a meeting with him, tomorrow, to sort it all out and has asked if I’d be interested in attending to identify the perpetrator directly. I’m still debating that. In any case, this person will not be invited back to the job site.

I cannot say enough about how the homeowner, architect and contractor have decided to react. I feel confident that this will soon be resolved. I do feel badly that this might reflect negatively on their businesses, and ask that we focus the actual perpetrator and the fact that we final say on what becomes the norm in our neighborhood. I am posting this under a new Topic thread in hopes that listserve members realize that the incident was indeed handled very well by the homeowner, architect and contractor.


Email to Lucia From the Contractor:

“I wanted to let you know that I spoke individually with my four regular workers who were at the job site this week. Each had a blank, deer-in-the-headlights look when I inquired about the incident. Two were aware that someone had taken a picture of the project, but did not seem to know why.

In contrast, the roofer who fit the physical description you gave and who was a first-time subcontractor reacted as if he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He did not acknowledge making inappropriate comments, but his facial reaction and the change in body language indicated that he was not comfortable with the discussion. He did state that he looked at a pretty lady walking down the street in the afternoon and that latinos talk a lot when working…maybe she misunderstood. His jaw dropped when I informed him that you speak fluent Spanish.

I realized that in my earlier conversations with the homeowner and you that we had not discussed the time of day when the event occurred. I called the homeowner and confirmed that you had reported it was in the afternoon. With his reference to an afternoon event I am confident that we have identified the source of the problem. I assure you that he will not perform any additional work for our company.

Most of my workers have been with me for many years. Our clients allow us into their homes where we have access to all their possessions. We recognize and value the trust they place in us. I routinely receive compliments from our clients about the care and concern our workers display when working on projects. This incident was in sharp contrast to our business practices, and I extend my sincere apologies.

With best regards,
[REDACTED]

Case closed. Thanks again for the supportive comments,

Lucia

I was sexually assaulted at the Cleveland Park Metro: “We need to think of sexual assault as a CRIME.”

Location: Inside the Cleveland Park metro station
Time: Evening Rush Hour (3:30pm-7:30pm)

Just as the train approached, a group of noisy 4-5 teenage boys ran behind me. I thought they were running to relocate to a different part of the train. I felt a hand quickly tap the underside of my left butt cheek and I heard someone “Whoot!” When I looked over at the boys, one of them turned back to look at me and laugh. I was already late to a friend’s birthday party so I just got on the train.

I called metro police later and they were very helpful and comprehensive when asking me the details. Unfortunately, it was already 4 hours after the incident and I had no clear descriptions of my assailant since it all happened so quickly. In hindsight, I wish I had not gotten onto the train, and I wish I had called the police immediately. I could have been able to identify the assailant with his fingerprints on my jeans. I could have located them inside the station or at least that train if they had gotten on.

We, as a society, are taught to respond in set ways to theft but we have no guidelines on how to react to sexual assault. If my purse were stolen, I would have reported it immediately. But when my body was touched, I had no idea I had rights. I had no idea what options I had.

To readers out there, I strongly urge you to first think of sexual assault as a CRIME. Stop what you are doing immediately. Life can wait. Call the police. Stay where you are and try to remember all details.

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted 5/11/13 by “A.S.”


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).

 

Groped by cabdriver this past weekend: Has this happened to anyone else recently?

posted in: Cleveland Park | 0

Location: Connecticut Ave NW between Cleveland Park and Van Ness
Time: Late Night (12am-5am)

This past Saturday night I was walking north on Connecticut. A cab pulled over and offered to give me a ride (I was just going up the street) free of charge. He told me to get in the front and I foolishly did. He then began to feel me up and grab my thighs.

I was pretty drunk but sober enough to tell him to pull over so I could get out. He did, after a couple blocks, and I got out and immediately broke down in tears. I wish I had the sense to get his information but it all happened so quickly and I wasn’t thinking clearly…I just wanted to get out.

Has this happened to anyone else recently in the area? I wish there was something I could do about it.

Emphases by CASS.
Submitted on 3/20/13 by Anonymous
Our message to this anonymous poster.
Our message to this anonymous poster.


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.

BREAKING: Arrest made in December 2012 Uber rape case

In December, a Yahoo! Group for DC’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, posted a message detailing a rape allegedly committed by an Uber cabdriver a few days prior. According to the listerv post, a 20-year-old woman who used Uber, an “on-demand” cab service accessed via a smartphone app, was attacked, knocked unconscious and raped by her driver after receiving a ride to her home in Cleveland Park.

We wrote about the case in January, noting the strong need for violence prevention and safer travel options for women.

Today, Prince of Petworth announced that an arrest has been made in the case.  We at CASS send our hearts out to the survivor and wish her the best. We hope that Uber pays close attention to this tragedy to learn how others can be prevented.

Details below, along with a statement from Uber. 


Reposted from Prince of Petworth, 3/15/13:

Back in mid-December there was a report on the Cleveland Park listserv of an Uber driver who had allegedly sexually assaulted a woman on the 3200 block of 36th Street NW. An arrest in that case has now been made.

From MPD:

The Metropolitan Police Department has announced that an arrest has been made in the First Degree Sexual Abuse that occurred in the 3200 block of 36th Street, NW. 

On Saturday, December 8, 2012, at approximately 3:00 am, an adult female who had hired a cab service was sexually assaulted while in the 3200 block of 36th Street, NW. 

After an investigation by members of the Sexual Assault Unit, a warrant was issued for 35 year-old Anouar Habib Trabelsi of Alexandria, VA, charging him with First Degree Sexual Abuse.

On March 13, 2013, Mr. Trabelsi was arrested by members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Ed. Note: Representatives from Uber will be releasing a statement shortly at which point I will update here.

Statement from Rachel Holt, Washington, DC General Manager, Uber:

Immediately upon being told that a driver for Capitol Limo, a limo company utilizing Uber technology, was suspected of committing a crime, we deactivated the partner account. He has not done a single ride through Uber since then. We have worked closely with the police and prosecutors investigating this incident, and will continue to help them in any way possible. The safety of our users is absolutely paramount, and we will continue to be vigilant that riders’ safety and security are protected.