I saw him get on at Main Street station, pause in the door, and then come and sit behind me after he’d spotted me. He was aboriginal, I think, with some terrible looking tattoos of gothic style letters on his arms and dirty clothes. I had a very, very strong feeling that something bad would happen but I also didn’t want to move away from him because I was afraid he might get angry or that other people on the train might think I was being racist or insensitive. I also didn’t want to get off the train in case he followed me off onto the platform. The train still had people in it further down so it seemed like the safer option. He got off two stops later and kept his head turned away from me as he waited for the door to open so that I wouldn’t see his face. I noticed that instead of grasping a beam to stabilize himself he kept his left hand pressed against the beam with his fist clenched.
He had cut off some of my hair from the back of my head. I never felt it happen, but noticed it the next morning when I was brushing my hair.
I reported the assault to transit police, who were fantastic and empathetic and supportive. They made it easy for me to feel comfortable and share my story. I carried on with my life as usual until about six months after the assault when I suddenly felt strong sensations of fear anytime that I had to take public transit and anytime that an unfamiliar man would look at me or talk to me on the street or on transit. I started having panic attacks, which I’ve never experienced before. I went to the North Shore Women’s Centre for support and have since been able to resume living without fearing the men around me. The panic attacks have stopped too.
I still avoid the Expo and Millenium lines and opt for the Canada line whenever I can. It’s so much better lit and the high back chairs prevent people from cutting your hair without you realizing it.