Happy New Year!

Many thanks from us at this here blog for your submissions and your support this year. While we hope that future developments and improvements in policy and safety measures (to say nothing of a utopia where harassment of all kinds ceases to exist!) renders this site eventually obsolete, we pledge to keep this going as long as it’s needed.

For those of you going out on the town tonight, we wanted to offer some information about Translink services on one of the busiest transit nights of the year in Metro Vancouver!

Translink services are completely free between 5pm this evening (Jan 31st) and 5am tomorrow morning (Jan 1). So there is absolutely zero excuse to get behind the wheel after imbibing your party potion of choice! Train service is extended by an hour in most directions, but please check here: http://www.translink.ca/en/Schedules-and-Maps/Holiday-Service.aspx for specific service details. Night buses are, as ever, in operation, and some non-night busses have special extended schedules to accommodate party people (who are ready to rock).

Now, riding the rails (or buses) with copious amounts of intoxicated people can be a somewhat harrowing experience. In an ideal world, prevention would focus solely on the perpetrators of harassment and violence, but we are unfortunately not living in an ideal world.

IF SOMEONE IS HARASSING, THREATENING, ASSAULTING YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE, there is recourse and we encourage you to escalate the situation if you believe it is safe to do so.

If you’re on a bus, speak to the driver. They have a direct line to security higher-ups, and they are committed to your safety.

If you’re on a train, there are numerous safety features, copied from the Translink site:

  • The on-train Passenger Silent Alarm is a yellow strip above every window, which allows passengers to silently alert SkyTrain control operators in the event of a security concern. Help will be on the scene as soon as possible.
  • The on-train Speakerphone is located inside each car near the doors. Speakerphones provide two-way voice communication with SkyTrain control operators for urgent assistance.
  • The in-station Designated Waiting Areas are located on all platforms. These areas have enhanced lighting, red emergency telephones and a bench, and are monitored by closed-circuit television.
  • The in-station Emergency Cabinets are located on SkyTrain platforms and are equipped with a red emergency telephone, fire extinguisher and emergency train stop buttons.
  • Closed-circuit TV monitors platforms, elevators, escalators and ticket concourse areas. This provides effective station surveillance and the opportunity to record suspicious activity or crime in progress, and to respond to system emergencies.

If there is an emergency where someone’s safety is being immediately threatened, please call 911.

Any other situation that requires intervention should be escalated to the transit police, who can be reached at 604-515-8300.

If you are concerned about someone’s behaviour, or if there is verbal harassment happening, we encourage you to use a phone’s camera feature to take a photo of the perpetrator. While we would typically discourage taking photos of anyone without their permission, in situations where someone is clearly committing a personal violation or crime, this can be a huge help in further prosecution.

Lastly, if you notice a difficult situation brewing, but you are afraid of using an obvious method to contact the authorities, you can tweet your bus # or train # to https://twitter.com/TransLink and they may be able to help. This is not the ideal method, but it is *something* and their twitter staff is tremendously timely and helpful. They can also pull you out of a jam if you find yourself lost.

Have a safe and happy new year!

**UPDATE – Const. Graham Walker tells us that you can text the Transit Police at 87-77-77 with any reports or concerns this evening, or any other time.

Pissed Off

I reported one instance of being an observer of a verbal assault; I had a very uncomfortable experience coming in from Coquitlam on the Millenium line about about 12:30 a.m. about 6 years ago. My two friends and I were the only people on the car after about Sperling. Four young men got on. They were very drunk and were joking and being loud and obnoxious and looking at us a lot. My two friends were a gay male couple. One of the four men eventually got out his X and began urinating in the car. His friends laughed heartily. I would have reached for the report bar, but they were watching us for reaction. I felt too vulnerable, especially with my friends being gay. We tried to pretend we didn’t see. We all got off at Broadway. We let them go ahead. I wish there was a more discreet way to report- maybe the texting will work.

Wary Witness

This is not recent, but I’ve just heard on the radio that you are interested in these stories, and I have two incidents which really bothered me. This one occurred about 5 years ago on one of the trolley buses leaving UBC. We were somewhere on 10th and a woman got on with a stroller with a child in it. She was Filipino or Latina, and the child was more fair skinned, but could have been hers. The child was about 3 years old. An older woman, with grey hair, but maybe in her late 50s or early 60s and dressed like an ex-hippy (big woolly sweater, grey hair in a pony tail), began to harass the woman with the stroller. the older woman was sitting in the first seats, reserved for handicapped folks, so the woman with the stroller was standing right there. The older woman began to say, in a very loud voice, that in her day they didn’t carry children – that it was ridiculous to push children in strollers. She went on and on and on, getting more and more extreme. She was essentially brow beating the woman with the stroller. The woman with the stroller did not answer. The bus was not crowded but there were many people around and we were all staring at the abusive woman. It was intolerable. The woman with the stroller got more and more red in the face. I feel very ashamed that I did nothing. The woman with the stroller got off, maybe around MacDonald. I have no idea what I should have done or could have done. I had a similar thing happen where I was assaulted on a bus (physically) and the driver did nothing, mostly because he as unaware (but the bus was too packed for him to have known).

The Crude Mating Display of the Intoxicated Bus Patron (26/f)

I was taking transit home from Vancouver and on my way to Burnaby. I got off at New West station and was waiting for the bus in the underground bus loop. It was around midnight and I had to wait about half an hour for the next bus. I’m always a little wary of this bus loop because it is pretty secluded and I haven’t noticed that there are any cameras around this designated area (something I’m always on the look out for). As I walked up to the bus stop I noticed another woman waiting so I felt a little better that I wasn’t alone. Then a man came up and we made brief eye contact before I went back to reading the book I was carrying. Within a few minutes I heard the man make a phone call and telling the person he was speaking to about three different times in the two minute conversation that he was “On the hunt…,” or “Looking for some p****.” I had a feeling he was trying to make me and this woman uncomfortable, but I just ignored it and kept my eyes on my book. Gradually a couple of other people started showing up to the platform. In my effort to be aware of my surroundings, I looked up and around at the bus stop, and happened to make eye contact with this vile human being again, and as soon as I did, he stuck his tongue out at me and proceeded to make an obscene gesture. It happened instantly and it seemed as if he had been watching me the whole time just waiting for me to look up at him. I gave him a look of repulsion and got back to my book. I was just mortified and haven’t been able to get his ugly mug out of my head. I’ve had worse, and witnessed worse things happen on transit, but something about this guy and his action made me feel so vulnerable and sick.  I felt like I wanted to tell him off but at the same time I didn’t want to provoke him since I could tell he had been drinking and was concerned about what he might do or say in the absence of any security.

Surreptitiously Sleazy

I was assaulted on the 99 B-line three years ago on my way home from UBC. There were hardly anyone else on the bus and a man sat down beside me. I pretended to be listening to my music and not notice/care that he had chosen to sit beside me even though he could have sat anywhere else on the practically empty bus. He then started pressing his leg into mine and I tried to move away. He kept inching closer, and then he put his elbow into my chest and used his other hand to grope my breast under his arm (so the other couple people in the back of the bus would not notice. He started breathing heavily and I was petrified. I have been sexually assaulted before so of course this experience was extremely triggering and paralyzing, I couldn’t move or speak, for what seemed like forever but was probably only about 10 minutes. Then I was finally able to get up and march to the other end of the bus, where I sat and glared at him, and texted my friend to come meet me so I wouldn’t be getting off the bus alone.

I ended up submitting a report to the police, but nothing came of it.

Three years later this memory still haunts me, and I recently had an encounter with a man who I thought could be the same guy, I was shaky for the rest of the day, and wished I could have said something to him, or done something, so I wrote this on my blog: http://heidijontheloose.com/2013/12/10/an-open-letter-to-the-man-who-assaulted-me/

“When you see me get defensive, stay away!” (18/F)

I’ve had lot of awful experience in my life (abused and molested) that makes me scared of men nowadays. I’ll share about 4 out of many stories.
First harassment on Translink was when I was 14. After Christmas shopping, I was sitting on the old train with my mom and sister. This old man who appears to be drunk, sat across from me. He kept stare at me for 15 minutes straight. It was beginning to really creeping me out and starting to make me fearful. But awhile later, I took a good look at him and realized he wasn’t looking at me but my chest. I come from a family that have large breasts so it’s hard to cover the entire thing up. I just glared at him and zipped up my jacket all of the way up. That’s when the old man realized I saw him, he got off the next stop.
Second when I was 17, I was heading off to Fright Night with my little step-brother. A man who appears to be drunk and high came to me at Langley Centre. (I was waiting for my step-brother to meet me) He began to talk to me but due to my hearing loss, I couldn’t say go away and I want to understand people first. I’ve deal with lot of drunk people in the past so I took out paper and pen. He began to chat with me normal but he began to ask personal question and flirting. He was getting touchy and close. I kept getting twitchy because of my past. I kept move seat but he still come closer. I was getting uncomfortable. When my little step-brother came, I gave him a sisterly hug. The drunk man noticed and began to ask my step-brother and his friend questions. I’ve never felt so much of rage filling inside me. I wanted to pull my step-brother and his friend away but my step-brother’s friend seem to know what he’s saying because the drunk man finally left us alone after a while. The drunk man grinned at me while standing at the line then ended up vomiting on the bus stop floor while his friends laughs at him. My step-brother was like ‘oh eh, hey at least he stopped talk to you’.
Third story was after Protest the Hero concert in Vancouver, I got on the wrong bus which ended up landing me in Newton, surrey.  I cried in the rain, the drunk man came up to me and began to ask me questions. I wasn’t definitely in mood to be nice so I told him to f*ck off. He grinned then started to flirt, placing his hand on my arm.. I slammed it away. He still refused to give up and he tired to touch my hip to gesture me in the shed which I told him to back off and gave him the stop gesture. I twitched the entire time and was scared. The bus driver definitely noticed and he drove forward to let me in. I got in and couldn’t stop crying til I got to home.
Fourth one was just last week. I got on the bus to heading to work from Braid Station, man sat two seats across from me. As long as men aren’t too close, I’m ok with that. I kept get the funny feeling that somebody was staring at me and I looked around… just to find man beside me was looking up and down at me. He moved slowly at me while still staring. I twitched and felt uncomfortable. I decided that I couldn’t handle this anymore so I moved seats from back to front. He STILL stares at me from the back. I was getting frustrated with it but luckily the next stop was my stop so I got off and told my trainer. He was pissed. I ended up on same bus as man and he sat beside me again but I growled and glared at him. So he actually left after one stop.
I can’t wait to get my full license so I can stop go on the bus. This is getting ridiculous.

Stranger Danger

I’m on the 240, Saturday night heading back into Vancouver after a long day of work. The bus is crowded, the ground is wet and the guys behind me are obnoxious and loud so I wasn’t as considerate as I normally am about taking my back pack off quickly. But – I am a good person and so I do, “hey! Thanks for taking your back pack off!”
“No worries, sorry about that.” I’m thinking maybe they’re not as horrible as I first thought. (For the whole bus ride they were yelling and swearing and hitting each other and at one point one of the guys actually accidentally hit another passenger).
“Yeah right! Now we can be friends.” I turned my body away from him – don’t really want to invite more attention from this crew. “What? You don’t want to be my friend?” Him and his friends are laughing at me.
“Stranger Danger!” Someone calls out. As if I’m obligated to interact with these guys. As if my discomfort is  juvenile and childlike. They start laughing at me. I turn my back. I really don’t want to be their friend. “Come on! I’m Matt, now you know my name you don’t have to be afraid of me!”
“You sound like a fucking rapist!” One of them shouts out, he’s laughing as he says it. I ignored them and continued talking to my coworkers. They loose interest in me when I don’t react and soon they get off the bus.
Your friend was right Matt, you do sound like a rapist, and for all I know you could be.
And just so you know, rape is never a joke.