Wandering Hands (32/F)

I am a 32 years old female. Today, I got on the Expo line skytrain going to work downtown. After few minutes I felt something touching my genitalia area when the train stoped. I ignored it once as I thought it could be someone’s purse. When it happened for the second time, I looked down and saw the figures of an Asian man who was standing in front of me. All I did at that time was I moving away to be as far from him as possible. The guy was in his mid-40s. I think he got on the train on 29th or Nanaimo station.

Race(ist) to the Bottom (29/f)

I was riding the Skytrain at approximately 10pm on a Monday night, when the train rolled into Commercial Drive on the way to Waterfront, and an old Caucasian man with white hair came on board.  The man wore all black, with a black baseball hat and a black backpack.  I didn’t notice him until later, as I had my earphones on and was listening to music, but in between the pauses, I could hear him speaking quite loudly to no one in particular.  Every few seconds I could hear him say the f word followed by the chink word.

There were around 15 other people on the train with me, all from different races, and no one seemed to be paying him any attention, but as his rambling went on they also got louder and more profane.

So after a few minutes, I turned off my music to listen to him and this is what he said, “You f-ing chink better take your money and go back to where you came from, cause we’re going to f-ing beat you and take it from you…  Don’t belong here…  There’s no cops on the train, I’m going to f-ing beat you.”

There was a lot worse and it scared me because I am Chinese and female, and he was looking straight at me when he said those words.

I’ve lived my whole life in Canada, grew up from a poor family, and worked hard to get where I’m at.  I’ve dealt with racism and sexual harassment before, in all kinds of situations and from different people.  But this time, I was deeply scared for myself because I didn’t know what was going to happen and what to do.

I pulled out my phone to call the Transit Non-Emergency Line, but I had forgotten that there is no reception at Granville Station.

At Burrard Station, I quickly got out and to my dismay, so did he and he was following me.  I looked for a Skytrain attendant to inform them that there was someone making violent threats, but there was no one around.

I’m not a confrontational person, so I did the cowardly thing and ran home, while constantly looking behind me.

I believe that the man probably had some mental instability, or was highly drunk, but that doesn’t negate how serious his threats were or how frightened I was at the time.

I truly love Vancouver and its people, but after travelling solo in many different countries, Vancouver is still the only place that I feel unsafe to travel at night.

If Translink wants to make people feel safe while using their services, they should always have an attendant at each station.  Why should I have to call the non-emergency line for help and wait for them to arrive, when someone should already be there at the station?

Translink Things to Note:
1) Granville Station – no reception
2) Have an attendant at each station, even at night
3) Have the attendant watch for violent/illegal behaviours and prevent them from boarding the trains.  I saw the old man smoking on the platforms just before he got on, but there were no attendants at Commercial Drive
4) Have working turnstiles

Called That Creep Out

I was molested just tonight by an old man (maybe 50-60 years old), with white hair, facial hair, and a black suit. He was carrying a black folder or briefcase with him. We got on the same 351 bus at Bridgeport, heading towards Crescent Beach, at 8:45pm. I sat first near the front of the bus since I find it easier to get off for my stop that way. Out of all the empty seats in the front, he chose the seat next to mine. At first, I didn’t think of anything… but it was hard not to.

I was previously raped by someone nearly 3 years ago, and I am constantly paranoid, thinking that every man who sits next to me or even looks at me is going to either rape or molest me. I’ve already experienced 4 instances where men would molest me on the skytrain or bus. So you can imagine all the thoughts I would have when he presses his entire body against mine and starts to place his hands a little too low.. He kept on looking at me, as if to check if I was asleep. I sure as hell would never fall asleep with someone like that sitting next to me. He then shifted his body and placed his briefcase on his lap with one hand underneath it. I started to feel something on my leg. To be honest, I just wanted to believe in the good of others and think that it was only his briefcase. But it was apparent that they were fingers. His fingers.. snaking his way into my crotch. He got halfway across my leg slowly, and I finally turned to him and asked him in a confident manner, “What are you doing?” I didn’t get up from my seat.. I was terrified. I made myself seem like none of this affected me, but I did sit upright and turn on the overhead light. He looked at me, scared, and sat there, pretending he didn’t do anything wrong. He got off at South Surrey Park and Ride Bay 3 (the stop after the highway) with his car keys at 9:09pm. I started to cry and couldn’t even tell the bus driver what was wrong before I got off at my stop just minutes after..

I told Transit Police after I got home (when my boyfriend told me about this website and I found the information I needed). Ladies, if you see someone like this and he traps you in your seat, you yell at him when he tries something suspicious and you make it known. I felt like I was too scared to do something like that, but at least I let him know that I KNOW what he’s doing to me. Don’t let them know that you’re scared.

Assaulted and Ignored

The late night/early morning of a December 2010 marks one of the most painful, traumatic, humiliating, shameful days in my life, not that I should be ashamed of what happened, but I was made to feel that way by people I should have been able to trust. There aren’t words to describe the physical and emotional pain I felt that night. To this day it can send me into a depression, usually starting with anger, so much anger and frustration. What I faced that night and the following weeks and months was horrific for it wasn’t only the attack and subsequent sexual assault but the way people of authority handled what happened. I am a now 27 year woman, back then I was 24 and in Vancouver on a medical trip and still recovering from a traumatic spinal injury that almost left me paralyzed. I apologize that this will probably be quite long, I’ve never been great at summarizing stories and this ordeal went on months afterwards.

It was the last SkyTrain of the night on the Expoline on that January night in 2010, I was coming back alone from a movie and shopping in MetroTown my stop was Granville station. The train was empty and at my stop the platform was empty, I made my way thru the hallways and up the stairs to the escalator that would take me to the street, it was deserted. As I got on the escalator a male was on the opposite side descending, who I payed no attention to at the time, as he passed me I heard him call out, I wasn’t sure who he was talking to and didn’t look back, then he raised his voice and stated calling out to me “wait”. I turned around and by this time I was on the lengthy escalator about 20 stairs up I looked forward and ignored him, he hadn’t reached the bottom of his side yet but I glanced back again and he was running down his and still calling out to me and then began to run up my side of the escalator towards me. He caught up to me and I couldn’t make out what he was saying, his accent was too heavy, I shook my head and turned around and faced forward. He continued to talk to me and I started walking up the escalator trying to put as much distance between him and I as quickly as I could, this entire time he was going on and on. Up until point in time no one got on or off the escalator, I was about half way up now. I heard his footsteps behind me, the escalator at this station is incredibly long, I turned back and said “No” sternly and faced forward and he was right behind me again, he kept saying “I’m 20, I’m 20, I’m 20″ “we f*ck, we f*ck, we f*ck” over and over when I reached the top of this escalator, this seemed like an eternity. He was behind me the entire time, at the top is when the assault took place, it too was also empty. There’s a small corner at the top of the escalator, when I finally reached the top he shoved me into the corner. I was wearing a heavy black jacket a scarf covering my neck and opening of the jacket, and I don’t remember when or how he got to my shirt, he started slapping me across the face hard over and over and he was getting turned on by it he grabbed my wrist and forcefully put my hand over his private parts. I cried and I cried and begged him to stop, stop and no and no over and over again, he continued to slap me, my checks were on fire. Pulling my top down he also yanked my skirt over my waist and started trying to rip off my panties, I kept crying to stop and I fought with all my strength to keep them up and at the same time keep my top up, my fractured spine was still not healed and I had intense neuropathic pain, my left arm was paralyzed in the accident and after months of rehab I regained movement but it was still weak, as was my balance I had to learn to walk again and my left ankle was also weak and I had poor balance . He managed to pull my top down exposing cleavage, he started biting my chest over and over each time it got harder and harder. I had a hold on one side of my panties and he tried pulling off/down my shirt both at the same time telling me “we f*ck” over and over he grabbed my exposed nether regions and I screamed no, no, no and please stop. This lasted near 4-5 minutes and he finally stopped, I was in such shock, pulled my skirt and shirt back into place and as he left he said “I see you later”. I waited until he turned his back and got on the escalator going down.

After He was gone I walked away stunned looking for anybody, no one walked by during the assault, around the corner and there was a transit employee cleaning the floors, I tried to ask for help but he just shook his head and went back to working, I said I had been attacked but I got no response. I broke down crying and wandered out if the doors to the street, there was a transit bus just outside the doors I got  on the bus and asked the driver for help and told him I was sexually assaulted, he said “call the police” and said he had to go or he’d be late, I was stunned I walked off the bus and cried I sat on a bench across the cross street, a few minutes later he pulled his bus up to where I was sitting and said “there should be transit cops a couple blocks down, they should be at that skytrain station” I started walking towards the station he pointed me to. Crying and afraid of every person who walked past me on the dark streets that weren’t well lit.

Down the street I got to the station I walked down the steps and found two Transit police. I told them what happened, they got on their radios and brought me back to the scene of the assault. There 4-5 Transit police gather and stood around and I went over what happened, they got on the phone with the people who monitor the security cameras in the skytrain stations, the police then said that the cameras showed that I got off the escalator and followed the man that assaulted me down the escalator, which I DID NOT. I told them I didn’t and they asked me repeatedly are you sure you didn’t, and insisted that I did. After a few minutes they realized that they had been watching different people at the wrong time, I clearly remember looking at my phone for the time after the assault, after they realized they made a mistake they got on their radios and put out a description of the attacker. They started taking notes on my attack. Even though I told them my jacket was buttoned and my scarf was wrapped around my neck covering everything from my neck down, they insisted on me opening my coat and having pictures taken of the way I was dressed “in case this was ever taken to court and it could be said that the way I was dressed was some how provocative”. This took place in front of a room full of males just standing around. I was so embarrassed I had to take off my scarf and open my jacket, holding it wide open. How would the clothes underneath my thick long pea coat and long wrapped scarf matter? How would I provoke such an attack unless he had some X-Ray vision (even if I was dressed provocatively, does that mean I’m asking for it)?  I was too shaken up at the time to be as mad as I am now about this statement. We were all standing in the same area of the attack and I had to keep going over my account of the incident over and over and then someone called a sexual assault counselor? And we stood there in silence has we waited for her to arrive 15mins later she arrived and we went into a room around the corner while officers waited outside, we talked and it didn’t help we just went over what happened again, it was as if I was talking to a male officer with the question added about whether or not he penetrated me and if I wanted a rape kit or exam. I had a glass of wine over dinner before the movie and when I told her about it I felt that I was taken less seriously, I was asked if I knew they guy from somewhere, there was mention of women filing reports of sexual assault after a fight with a boyfriend or something, I was tired and after that change in attitude I was so shocked I didn’t know how to take it, everything about my encounter with Transit police seemed so incredibly unprofessional, NOTHING LIKE I THOUGHT A VICTIM OF VIOLENT SEXUAL ASSAULT WOULD BE TREATED. It was 3am and I felt we were going in circles and I asked to be taken back to my hotel, one of the two original officers drove me to my hotel. When I woke the next morning, I had a full set of teeth marks in my right breast, it was bruised very defined and it didn’t fade for what felt like months. Transit sent over a photographer to take pictures of bruises and teeth marks.

The next morning I had an early flight I was humiliated and didn’t tell anyone about the attack, I am open with my family and don’t keep major secrets, but this, this was so shameful and humiliating I felt that I did something wrong. I didn’t tell anyone until months later and that was just the one person I had take me to my local police station. Just a few months ago I told my father when I heard that a woman was groped on the sky train, her story made the news.

The week of Christmas 2010 the original officer called me to tell me that they were running an ad in the paper through crime stoppers during the phone call he said he had watched the surveillance video again and had a question, he said when he watched it he wondered why I didn’t try harder to get away, why I didn’t just leave the attacker.   I was Christmas shopping in a busy mall and surrounded by people I didn’t know how to answer him without someone hearing me. I was shocked and brought to tears again trying to find the words. I couldn’t believe he would ask me why I didn’t try harder, as if I had wanted this strange man to rape me in a sky train station, and he said he seen me turn to the guy and appear to say something he asked what it was that I said to him. There was more to the phone call about why I didn’t try to get away but i got light headed and shaky and teary in a very busy public place. All I wanted to do was get out of the Store I was in. The call was another slap in the face, he made me feel like I let the attack happen.

A several months later I was in Vancouver again on another medical trip and I got a call from the head of Transit Police or something, he was following up on me and my case and I broke down on the phone with him, I brought up the phone call from the officer during Christmas and he said he would like to fly up to my hometown and start an investigation. He said the officer was wrong for what he said. We met shortly after the call and again I had to go over what was said during the phone call by this time several months had passed since my last talk with the investigating officer. I told them on the record what happened during the call and an internal investigation was opened (the investigator said that the video of the attack was so brutal that he couldn’t watch all of it). After the interview, I received a phone call from the internal affairs investigator and I was informed that the officer on my case that made the call during Christmas was being taken off my case and that was it. That was the end to all of this. It’s left me confused, hurt and embarrassed, sometimes I wish I had never reported the attack. It brought nothing but shame, anger and embarrassment among other emotional problems and distrust of Transit Police. In hindsight I should have told my parents, my father said I should have brought my lawyer to the internal affairs investigation, I wish I had. But it’s been 4 years what can be done now? Other than warn other victims and tell them it’s not their fault not matter what anyone tells you.

The Most Chivalrous Dirtbag (17/f)

I had recently turned 17 and was taking a bus downtown with my parents and three younger siblings.  It was the middle of summer and rush hour so everyone was packed onto the bus. When we boarded the bus, an old man who appeared to look homeless was sitting in the chair behind the driver’s seat on the left side of the bus.  He got off and offered the chair to my little brother, which I thought was odd considering there were older people on the bus he could’ve given it to.  He switched places with my brother and stood behind me.  For the first few minutes of the bus ride, every time the bus would stop or turn a corner, I felt something hard bump into my lower back.  I thought it was just someone brushing against me by accident, but soon enough, his hands started to touch my waist and he even tried putting his fingers in the waistband of my jeans.  I realized that the hard thing in my lower back was his boner, and was too embarrassed to say anything especially since my parents were on the bus and had thanked the man for giving my brother his seat.  I endured this for about 20 minutes before we got off the bus, when I told my dad what had happened.  My dad asked why I didn’t say anything so he could beat the guy up, which is why I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t want to be the reason behind a conflict, even though I know it’s not my fault this man targeted me.  I still think of it (I’m 20 now) and always try to sit on buses instead of stand, although I know that wont prevent other men from trying to touch me.

P.S. This project is great and I’m so glad I found this blog where I can read stories about other women similar to mine. Thanks!

No-Courtesy Seating

So late last night I`m at Bridgeport station, where I board my bus heading to White Rock. A man is the first to board the bus before I board, I take my seat and try to get settled in my seating area with heavy bags in tow. The bus I board is a “highway” style bus, (a more comfortable version of a bus with adjustable seats that recline for rider comfort). I recline my seat (as I always do), while I attempt to settle into my space…………..The man who boarded the bus ahead of me and is now seated behind me. Suddenly I see this arm reach from behind (between the wall of the bus and my seat), grabbing the function control on my seat (for reclining) and forces my seat back to the upright position. Taken back by this rude and intrusive maneuver, I quickly respond by reinstating my seat back to the original reclined position I had placed it in. I turn to make eye contact with the rude man (that just violated my personal space). He quickly once more, forces my seat upright. I once again quickly recline my seat where it was. Using his body, this very rude man forces his knees up against my seat (blocking my ability to recline my seat). I force my seat back into a recline position (the way I originally had it). This man raises his voice at me making a huge scene as people are boarding the bus. At this point he now springs out of his seat so he is facing my right side, and starts grabbing my personal property and trying to pull my belongings off the seat beside me. I`m a 49 yr. old disabled woman, I have arthritis riddled through my entire body, not to mention severe shoulder injuries from a previous M.V.A. I am in chronic pain and this man is grabbing my already heavy bags and pulling them off my seat. I hang on to my property vigilantly, this tug of war induced strain and pain to my already injured parts. This very rude man then attempts for sit on top of my personal belongs, all while shouting at me and causing a huge commotion on the bus. I asked this man if he was mentally ill. I couldn`t believe how this man was going to the extreme to get in my face. I didn`t know exactly how crazy this lunatic was, so I tried to stay calm and quiet. Other passengers were looking at him like what`s your problem buddy. Eventually this awful rude man changed his seat and moved a seat further away, while still uttering insults at me. The bus driver pulled away from the bay only after the man stopped running his mouth off at me. When I arrived at home I called the police and filed a report about this man harassing me. The constable I spoke with, informed me that if an incident of this nature every happens again in the future, I am to alert the bus driver to summon the police at once. If I`m ever unfortunate to get harassed by this rude self entitled being again while riding on the bus, there will definitely will be police involvement. I have the right like all passengers to ride the bus safe from harassment of any kind.

Mod Post

Below is a cogent, excellent piece on the importance of language in general and in particular within messaging campaigns. We highly recommend your perusal.

 

Language reflects the culture in which we live, and so criticisms of language use are often met with statements like “We’re just telling it like it is!” or “That’s the way the world works, get used to it.” But language also has the potential to change our culture. When we change the way we talk about things, we change the way we think about things. THEN we start to (slowly, surely) change the way we act about things.

 

We’re very pleased by the transit police’s near-immediate response to the criticisms of their recent messaging for the See Something, Say Something campaign. They’re:

A) Taking down the posters with the problematic wording

B) Asking our, and Hollaback!’s input on alternative messaging to replace the problematic posters

C) forming a committee to review messaging copy going forward.

A solid resolution to a clumsy, if well-intentioned mis-step.