Trapped and Terrified (18/f)

For the sake of your data analysis, I am an 18 year old female. Asian to Chinese parents, born and raised here with English as my first language.

 

I didn’t know if my story would be taken seriously until a different girl came forward with a similar experience. I’m sorry I was silent until now. I didn’t know where to report what happened to me. I was afraid to call and have to speak to someone and relive what happened. I’m not good at telling this sort of thing over the phone. I never reported it until now, and I don’t know if the contact page for Translink counts.

 

It happened during October 2013, at around 6:40pm or so. I don’t remember the exact day it happened. I don’t like to remember. I got on the 321 White Rock Center at Surrey Central and it was already very dark outside. I saw a man who I thought looked Caucasian, skinny, in worn out brown clothing with a small bag and a skateboard. He had a lot of stubble and was wearing a toque, but I could tell from his eyebrows he had dark hair. I guessed he was in his late twenties to forties. He did not sit next to me, at the back of the bus. I sat in the window seat across the back exit doors. Nothing happened until we started to go down King George Highway into White Rock. The bus had less than 10 people. He moved to the seat next to me, blocking my way out. I thought that maybe his stop was coming up, but I was still freaked out that he sat next to me when the bus was so empty. He propped his bag where his feet should be, and put his skateboard to his right, boxing the both of us in the seats. I prayed he was only trying to be comfortable, but he started to spread his legs out more and angled his body more in my direction, like he was waiting for me to look at him. He kept rubbing his thigh against mine, but I kept looking ahead, terrified of him but too afraid to do anything. He got more persistent and started to thrust his lower body at me, and I just started to cry. The surrey park and ride was coming up so I knew I just had to move to the driver, so I pulled the string to have an excuse to get out of the seat. When we stopped we got up, but he opened the back door, stepped out and turned around like he was waiting for me. I sat back down and the driver pulled out and off. This man stared at me almost in disbelief and I was too upset to say anything to my driver.

 

What happened to me has made me terrified on any public transit. I’m hyper aware and terrified when a man I don’t know sits next to me. Any movement they make I am conscious of, and I focus in on the fact that we are so close and I am so vulnerable. Rewriting and reliving this is incredibly difficult for me, but what happened to me wasn’t my fault, and I no longer want to be silent.

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Representing You at the Chief’s Community Council

On February 11, 2014, the creators/moderators of this blog will be attending the first meeting of the Transit Police Chief’s Community Council. In the words of the Transit Police: “The objective of the Council is to bring community members together to gather information and perspectives on transit related safety and security issues in the BC lower mainland, and to collaboratively develop strategies to make transit safer for all users, and to prevent and reduce crime on transit vehicles and in and around transit stations.”

Members of the council are, ideally, representatives of their particular communities (in our case women and others who are marginalized based on sex/gender, which is to say people who are most likely to come into contact with sexual harassment or assault as transit riders), in order to bring community concerns into an open dialogue. 

We would like to invite our readers and contributors to bring any questions or concerns you may have regarding gendered or sexualized safety issues in your ridership experience. You can submit anonymously through the “Tell Your Story” link at the top of the page, or you can email us directly at translink.harassment@gmail.com. 

 

Please note that we will be in direct dialogue with the Transit Police, not TransLink, and the focus will be on developing and improving the relationship between law enforcement and the transit-riding community. General issues to be tabled include but are not limited to: 

• crime reduction, prevention and social disorder

• customer service

• collaboration with the police and other agencies

• misunderstandings and stereotypes

Anything pertaining to fares, routes, and the rollout of the new Compass system will be rather out of our wheelhouse, and as much as we are concerned with the operating practices of TransLink, we won’t be in conversation with them at this time. 

 

And as always, we are still inviting submissions of personal stories of harassment and assault (they are instrumental in creating a nuanced understanding of how these incidents play out within the transit system, even those stories that are years old), and we encourage anyone who experiences harassment and assault going forward to report the details directly to the Transit Police. 
Phone:  604.515.8300 / Text: 87-77-77.