I grew up in a small town with no transit so when I moved to Vancouver to attend university I had to quickly develop strategies to deal with sexual and gender based harassment on transit (and in public, in bars, in classrooms, in malls, in restaurants, etc etc).
I have more instances of being harassed than I can remember but here are a few that stick out in my mind:
I have been followed several times off of transit vehicles. I was once followed by a man who knew I worked on the DTES and worked at a local convenience store where I would frequently stop on my lunch break or after work. He would proposition me at the store (I would always say no) and spotted me waiting for my bus one afternoon. He got on the bus with me, propositioned me on the bus, followed me the very long trip to where I lived, followed me off the bus, followed me into grocery store near where I lived, and I finally lost him by running and ducking into an alley through a crowd.
On the same bus route, I was followed by a young man when I was arriving home late at night. I had smiled at him as I was exiting the bus and he took this as an invitation to follow me on a darkened street to my home.
One of the scariest incidences was in the last few years. I now live on a very busy, well-lit, main street that is busy all night. I only live a half block from the bus stop and it was about 10 pm at night. I had my headphones in not even thinking about it because it’s such a short distance from the stop to my front door on a well-lit busy street. I suddenly got a cold chill up my spine and suddenly realized that a man had followed me off the bus and was only a step or two behind me and was preparing to grab me. He saw me noticing him and pretended to look in a closed shop window which gave me time to run to my building door and get inside. He then lingered outside my building door staring at me. If I hadn’t noticed him and if there had not been someone walking ahead of us who would have heard me scream, I firmly believe he would have grabbed me and done god knows what. I now always look behind me when I get off the bus and when I’m walking in the dark.
I have had my ass and breasts grabbed on public transit, had nasty sexually harassing comments said to me about the way I dress, been propositioned more times than I can count, had men rub against me, been threatened, and seen some scary stuff happen to other women as well. These needs to stop. It really does.