If you’re a woman and you’ve ever used public transportation — like the bus — chances are you’ve encountered some strange behavior. New York City’s MTA has resorted to making announcements that a crowded subway is no excuse for inappropriate touching, but still 458 subway sex crimes were reported in the first half of 2016 in NYC. If you think that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that these are just the crimes that are reported.
One young woman, who was inappropriately touched, has had enough, and she shared her story in a long, heartfelt post on Reddit.
She set up her experiences with a simple explanation. “So I’ve always been a somewhat shy girl. I live in a big city where buses can get pretty crowded because of either rush hour or just nearby schools getting let out. Cool. I understand crowded buses; we all gotta get where we’re going after all. But what I can’t understand is why some men feel the need to take advantage of crowds to feel up other people’s bodies.”
And she shared something that will likely ring true for many women, writing, “The first time I was inappropriately touched was in 8th grade.”
She went on to detail several past incidents on the bus in which she had been touched by strangers and how she didn’t do anything about the assaults. Then she shared her most recent experience and how she finally called a man out.
“A couple hours ago, I was riding the bus home from my old high school where I was visiting a retiring teacher,” she wrote. “It was an extremely crowded bus because the same line ran though at least a couple schools and a few stops away from where I was supposed to get off, I gave up my seat for an elderly man and started standing by the rear exit. Not a minute later, I felt fingers stroking my left butt cheek. I thought it was my imagination at first so I shrugged slightly away only to feel the fingers return. I was 100 percent sure those weren’t some stray bag at that point; those were human fingers stroking from my lower to upper butt.”
And for the first time, she spoke up — and put a stop to it.
“I turned to him, looked the middle-age blonde man straight in those sky blue eyes of his and said in the loudest voice I could manage, ‘Touch my butt one more time and I will report you.’ I knew I had the right man. He met my gaze unblinkingly and slowly nodded. No one seemed to have paid attention or cared,” she continued. “But at that moment, I was relieved.”
Her post shot to the front page of Reddit, with over 25,000 upvotes and many others weighing in with their own experiences on public transportation.
One shared a particularly disturbing story, writing, “When I was 15, some guy kept harassing and touching me on the bus. I kept getting up and moving away from him, but he followed me. After a few stops, I finally yelled at him to get the f*** away from me and called him a creep and an a**hole. Cue the entire bus doing that thing where everyone pretends they don’t see you. I was so frustrated and upset, I got off at the next stop and walked the next two miles home. The bus driver told me to ‘have a nice day’ with a sad smile.”
Another applauded the young woman for standing up for herself, writing on Reddit, “That’s actually incredibly brave. Strangers are terrifying and you never know if they’re psycho or have a weapon or what. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to say anything.”
Harassment of women on public transportation is a problem across the globe. Japan implemented women-only subway cars in Tokyo to combat the issue, and one London based women recently shared a story that illustrated the delicate tightrope women have to walk when harassed by strange men — speak up and the situation could escalate into something worse, or be polite and silent while being harassed or assaulted.
I say ‘the man just asked me for a drink and when I said no started to rub himself’. The driver says, ‘what do you expect me to do?’
— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) May 4, 2017
For every story shared by a woman about having to pacify the unwanted, inappropriate advances of a man, there are countless more that have not been told. According to RAINN, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds.
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