About a year ago, as I was commuting to work on the
Red Line, a man wearing baggy gym shorts got on my
train at Metro Center. I was running late and the car
was fairly empty for a weekday morning. He sat down
on the other side of the doors facing me and just
stared. Within moments, this man splayed his legs
letting EVERYTHING be seen, and began rubbing himself.
There were other people on the train and I remember
thinking to myself, “Is this really happening?
Doesn’t anyone else see what is going on?”
Shocked and incredibly uncomfortable, I tried to avoid
his direct line of sight and shifted to one of the
seats situated to the side. I figured that since I
was getting off at Gallery Place to switch trains, I
would be able to remove myself from the situation
rather quickly. As the doors opened, I practically
leapt off the train and walked as fast I could to the
platform below to get on the next train. Luckily, one
was just pulling up. The doors opened, I got inside,
took a deep breath and thought to myself, “Wow.
Just as the “Stand back, doors are closing” warning
played, the man jumped between the doors and got onto
my car. I could not believe it. He took the same
seat on the other side of the doors facing me and
picked up right where he had left off. I again
switched seats so that I was to the side and just
counted the minutes until it was my station. This man
masturbated the entire way from Gallery Place to
L’Enfant Plaza. I could see the reflection of his
face in the door, staring at me with this smirk on his
face, as if to say, “Like what you see?” While I did
not make eye contact with him, I could still feel his
eyes on me. Once the train arrived at L’Enfant Plaza,
I made a mental note of what the car number was and I
went straight to the station manager to report the
man. I provided the train line and its direction, the
car number and a detailed description of what the man
looked like. The metro worker called Metro Center to
report the incident to the Metro Police and to see if
they could dispatch an officer to the train at the
next station. I left my business card with the
station manager and went to my office.
The second I sat down at my desk, I started to cry. I
couldn’t stop the tears and I just felt disgusting.
One of my co-workers walked by and asked what was
wrong. Between sobs, I explained what had happened.
While I know he thought he was helping when he said
that I should be glad that the man didn’t touch me and
that things like that happen – he made me more upset.
I shouldn’t have to take comfort in the fact that the
man just masturbated in front of me – it shouldn’t
have happened at all. And to say, “things like that
happen,” made me feel worse. I didn’t want my being
violated to be dismissed or diminished. I wanted
justice. As soon as I was composed, I called Metro
Center myself to see if the man had been caught. The
woman who answered told me that she was aware of the
call from the station manager reporting a man exposing
himself and that officers were alerted, but
unfortunately, when they finally caught up with the
train a man matching my description couldn’t be found.
All I could think was that he was free to do it
again, to some other woman.
I don’t often think about that morning and I know that
I did the best I could in the moment - because,
honestly, who really has a prepared response to that
situation? However, sometimes I find myself thinking
of what I could have done differently so that he would
have been caught. Should I have gotten off at the
Navy Memorial station and reported it there? Would
reporting it earlier have helped? Could they have
held the train between stations while an officer was
dispatched to the next station? I can’t change what I
did, and dwelling on it will not help, but I can say
that if it were to happen again, I will be prepared.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t.
I hope it doesn't happen again either to anyone. No one needs to go through this. I want to know what goes through these men's heads when they do this. They must really feel horrible about themselves to make women feel uncomfortable. Lindsey did the right thing in reporting it to an authority figure...I just hope this fool is caught.
Whenever you see this happening, report it. By not acting, you're enabling this. We refuse to accept this as normal behavior. Take a stand!