I Was Sexually Harassed Last Night On The Subway

I am no stranger to street harassment, unfortunately. I wish it were something that I were not used to, something that didn’t happen every single day. But it does, and I deal with it the best I can. Mostly I just ignore whatever is yelled at me when I walk down the street.

I rarely say anything in retaliation because you never know what someone is going to do, and I have better things to do than fight with some guy who thinks it’s his right to objectify me.

When it comes to street harassment, I think the reason I can deal with it so well is because I am not being physically violated. Yeah, it totally sucks to hear what some stranger wants to do to you, but only my ears and my brain feel violated. It’s not that it doesn’t bother me, but it’s easier to deal with.

Now, I have experienced a few physical interactions on the subway since moving to New York. There was the guy who stroked and sniffed my hair because he thought it was appropriate to touch the hair of a woman he did not know. There was the man who fell asleep on my shoulder because I apparently looked like a comfortable place to nap. There was the dude who thought that holding my hand was a good way to start a conversation. There was the bro who grabbed my necklace because he thought that making me think he was trying to steal my jewelry was a classic ice-breaker.

All of those interactions were creepy. And I’ve had the occasional guy-standing-too-close interactions as well. But for the most part, I feel safe and have a solid amount of personal space around me.

Well, last night on my subway ride home, that changed. I hopped on the crowded subway car and wedged myself to where I could hold on. A guy got on at the next stop and stood a little too close to me, but it was really packed in there so I thought nothing of it. It was rush hour, and I only had one stop to go so I could deal with it.

Then I felt a hand on my butt. At first, I thought it was an accidental brush. But it wasn’t. It was a full-on grab. This man groped my butt.

If I had enough room to maneuver myself I would have slapped him, but I barely had enough room to hold on. I did, however, have enough room to turn my head and yell very loudly at this guy. Normally, I’m not one to cause a scene like that. But I yelled and there were several other guys around. They looked at me, surprised, and then looked at the guy like they wanted to beat the crap out of him (they didn’t). Fortunately, it was my stop and I stormed off the train.

This guy has probably touched other women before and will probably keep touching other women, which makes me really mad. The fact that a stranger thought he had the right to lay a hand on me in any way makes me really mad. I don’t blame other people in the subway car for just standing there because unless you were me with your butt being grabbed, it was too crowded to notice. He didn’t say anything. He wasn’t verbally assaulting me. I’m glad I said what I did because he had to remain on that subway car with everyone else shamefully staring at him. But he’ll get over it and be on his merry butt-grabbing way.

Until last night, I felt pretty safe in my own skin. Now, I’m not so sure. Every time I see someone on the street, I’m wondering if they’re going to touch me. This morning on the subway, I was irritated at anyone who even came near me. I don’t want to walk around with my guard up so high, but after last night I feel like I have to.

Have you ever experienced physical sexual harassment? Do you deal with street harassment? How do you deal with it? Tell us in the comments.

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  • sweets

    A bit late to the party but i just had a horrible experience this morning and had to find out about others’ experiences. I recently moves away from a country in Europe of which the capital had grown to attract many creeps who think women’s bodies were made for men’s satisfaction.
    Now I’ve moved to asia and I’ve had considerably less harassment and feel generally safe wherever, even at night. Until this morning in a jam-packed subway. A man had subtly put his hands on my hips and started humping me from the back. At first i didn’t notice because of the train’s movement, but then definitely felt something was wrong. I was so shocked i couldn’t believe it at first. I looked down and definitely saw hands. I only managed to turn around to stop the thrusting, but was too afraid to call him out and I’m still kicking myself for not having done anything. I feel absolutely disgusted and ashamed (of my inaction).

  • nick

    hello ladies i also use to grope women sometimes in public places. i respect women a lot but i don know what happens to me as soon as i see a sexy ass, i feel like groping it. i understand its a very bad habit and i feel very guilt after doing it. But yes i have never offended anyone. if i see if she is not reacting negatively i use to continue otherwise i avoid doing it. ladies i am deeply ashamed of myself for such acts and i ask you all for forgiveness. as i cant go bak to d ladies whom i groped as all were random ladies and were strangers, for the same.its like a disease tht has spread into my mind and though i try to stop myself , eventually i fail. but anywayz i shall keep on trying to stop such acts and once again my sincere apologies to all d ladies i have groped.sorry for the trauma caused by me. but please forgive me so that i can forgive myself and grow as a good human being who really respects women emotionaly & physically. thankyou.

  • Lovelle

    Its so horrible how these sort of things just happen normally. For example a few days ago something similar happened to me and when i told my friends they were like “uh huh thats nasty” but they werent really bothered because it happens so often. 50 years ago people would be absolutely horrified but now its seems like its the womans fault for being out late with no one with them

  • Alice

    I’ve experienced the same thing, once by a stranger grabbing my butt, and the other was a close friend. Sure, you’d think he was messing about, but he wasn’t, no matter how many times I said “no, leave me alone, I have a boyfriend”, he wouldn’t give a flying unicorn poop. He had gotten so “obsessed” with trying to feel me and whatever he wanted to do, it had gotten to a point where he did hurt me, bruised me, by grabbing my neck… I managed to fend him off, he whacked his head and that was that.
    As good as it felt to hurt him in a similar way that he hurt me, if any of you are reading this and are experiencing something similar, whether he/she be friend or foe, don’t be afraid to ask for help, believe me it’s much better than it getting to a point where you’re in danger! Don’t let your inner anger get a hold of you, just go to someone!

    • Alice

      When he whacked his head he was fine! GOD I sound terrible now!

  • YuiGyaruRamen

    I remember in elementary, the boys would grab my boobs. :/ The nicked named me an anime character called ‘Orihime’, a big boobed anime character. After that, I swore I’d never date, cause to all guys I’m viewed as some slut cause my chest is big. It makes me really sad….btw this harassment doesn’t happen anymore, now a days its just the wrong guys asking me out cause I’m viewed as ‘easy’ too. Sorry, this comment kinda drifts off. :/ I’ll shut up now.

  • Aimee

    I have been known to pick up a bottle (or…well, an antique axe) and threaten sexual harassers while drunk, but I am pretty sure my methods will get me arrested or killed some day.

  • Hikaru

    I lived in a place where that happened all the time. I was rarely ever physically harassed, but many of my friends were and we were all verbally harassed. It was a horrible way to live and even though I don’t live in that kind of environment any more, I still have that fear and am always very aware of who is standing near me and making sure I’m not being leered at. I hate feeling terrified of other people and I don’t like judging people subconsciously just because of how threatened I’ve felt by their fellow gender in a certain area. But that kind of habit, built on that kind of fear, is very hard to shake off and I’m going to have to live here for quite awhile before I’m able to feel safer again.

  • Jen

    Wow that totally sucks. You so didn’t deserve that. And you should feel good in your own skin. Don’t let this one guys creepy actions totally get you down. He shouldn’t get that power. And there is a high chance soon he will get what he deserves.

  • erin

    I got sexually abused by my ex boyfriend and wish I had been able to yell like that, but I froze up and could only make myself say no again quietly :/
    thank god for my current amazing boyfriend helping me to feel safe and good about sex again.

  • Gaia Mancini

    One day I was in te bus on my way to college. The bus was very crowded and I was sitting. Then a guy with a very long sweater stood next to me and I felt something strange on my shoulder but I was afraid to look. When I turned around I saw the guy’s “thing” rubbing my shoulder ! I felt helpless and furious. I screamed and cried and nobody helped me !

    When I left the bus I sat down on the sidewalk and cried, I couldn’t breathe.
    Since then I go to college by car. I hate these people !

  • Alisha

    Wow. That’s horrifying. I am thankful you said something because most girls couldn’t do that because they would be afraid they might hurt you. I hope this never happens to you again and be strong. I know you might feel scared for awhile on the train but that’s normal after what happened. Don’t worry!

  • katherine

    it’s disgusting that women are restricted to where and when they can go out alone due to the fear of being attacked or harrassed. women should be able to go where they want at any hour during the day or night and not have to worry about their safety.

  • leyla

    Wow, wtf? I’m so sorry that happened to you! That guy is seriously a creep.