It was about 7am and I was doing my daily routine. Get up real early, stop and get a coffee, go to King George Station skytrain to columbia transfer and then off to school I go. I never have any issues, my dad taught me how to take care of myself. There was a guy and I have anxieties towards brown people for personal reasons but I’m working really hard on not pushing them into a group of all pigs. He was slurring his words but it was a Wednesday I thought either he was on drugs or handicap because I’ve dealt with drugs and disabilities my whole life. I wasn’t going to be rude because of any of that so we had small talk on the skytrain. At Columbia he continued to follow me, because I take the same route everyday and love to socialize I know all the regular staff working at the stations so I knew how to get the securities attention without him noticing after he fell down the stairs on me which I would like to add I haven’t used stairs since because I’m so tiny and he was a full grown man. Turned out he was actually drunk. He didn’t smell like booze and the thought didn’t cross my mind considering it was a Wednesday morning at 7am all connecting lines are the most dangerous because that’s where all the stations can meet up.. Male, brown, leather jacket, spiked hair
I just got called a “fucking bitch” because I didn’t engage a guy in conversation as he was following me trying to say hello. Then when I told him that that was rude and unnecessary and I just don’t want to have a conversation, he blew up in my face and started yelling at me and calling me names. Then I got on the bus and he did too and he and the bus driver started talking about how rude I was and what a bitch I was and how much of a nice guy that guy is. So I got off the bus and am so pissed off.
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
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.
I see a lot of these stories where the transit driver did nothing in cases of abuse and harassment, or transit cops did nothing. I do have one story where a transit driver did do something and maybe he could be a model for hope. This happened almost 15 years ago when I was an undergrad student at UBC, I think I was about 19. My female friend and I lived on campus but we loved hanging out and dancing all night at the goth and metal bars downtown so we frequently took the very last bus from downtown back to UBC by ourselves. There were two drivers who had that route at night. One very grumpy who didn’t like us or the way we looked and one who was very friendly and always watched out for us. Because we looked pretty weird since we were goths, and were usually in a large pack of friends who waited for the bus with us to make sure we got on safe we didn’t have too much sexual harassment happen to us (all though we did have other kinds of harassment because we were unusual looking) but this night a strange man followed us on to the bus. Luckily it was the friendly driver driving that night and he really didn’t like the way this man was leering at us. We were a little oblivious, too busy chatting at each other (no, we were not drunk and rarely drank/did drugs in those days even though we spent a lot of time in bars, not that a woman’s intoxication should ever be an invitation for sexual harassment). The driver called out to us to come and sit behind him, explained that he didn’t like the look of this guy and called campus security to pick us up and take us to our dorm once we reached the UBC bus loop. That driver may have saved our asses that night and we got home safe due to his vigilance.
One time I was coming home on the Skytrain with a new book, listening to music. This guy comes right over and sits beside me and starts talking to me as though I was looking forlornly out the window. Now, being then of the opinion that men weren’t about to find me attractive, I thought nothing of it and had a conversation with him in my very demure then-hickish way. It was harmless in my mind until he started asking if I had a boyfriend. THAT made me uncomfortable, but when I made to get off, he followed me. I went for the elevator, thinking he might opt for the stairs, but he didn’t. So, I went for the escalator. And all the while he’s asking me about my phone number and my ADDRESS! I refused his advanced, and he wanted to know why. I was out of my mind with fear: How was I going to get this guy away from me? So, I did the only thing I could think of: I dawdled. Eventually, he went to McDonald’s to use the bathroom, and I walked away as fast as I could.
Thank you for creating this project!