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.
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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).