Hairy Situations

About a year ago I was on the 210 to Phibbs Exchange when I felt a sudden tug to one or two hairs at the back of my head, like someone was trying to pull out my hair. When I turned around, I saw the man behind me quickly tug his hands back to his lap and look out the window inconspicuously. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt at first, because it seemed ridiculous that someone would want to take my hair, but when I leaned forward and watched our reflection in the windows, I saw him slowly creep his way back to resting his hands on the back of my headrest, inching his fingers closer. I felt really uncomfortable about confronting him about it, so I just leaned way further forward in my seat and pretended it wasn’t happening until we both got off the bus at Phibbs exchange. I found myself wondering if I should tell the bus driver, or call someone about it, but wondered what a bus driver could even do about such an obscure problem.

More recently, about a month back, I was standing on the millennium holding onto a pole when things got a bit crowded. A man started getting super close to me. I thought this could just be due to the lack of space, but he put both his hands onto the pole on either side of me, so his arms were surrounding me, and pushed up close so that his pelvis was pushed up against my butt. Once again I felt super uncomfortable about confronting the man and did nothing. As soon as the train stopped and people shifted I moved away from the man.


The Most Chivalrous Dirtbag (17/f)

I had recently turned 17 and was taking a bus downtown with my parents and three younger siblings.  It was the middle of summer and rush hour so everyone was packed onto the bus. When we boarded the bus, an old man who appeared to look homeless was sitting in the chair behind the driver’s seat on the left side of the bus.  He got off and offered the chair to my little brother, which I thought was odd considering there were older people on the bus he could’ve given it to.  He switched places with my brother and stood behind me.  For the first few minutes of the bus ride, every time the bus would stop or turn a corner, I felt something hard bump into my lower back.  I thought it was just someone brushing against me by accident, but soon enough, his hands started to touch my waist and he even tried putting his fingers in the waistband of my jeans.  I realized that the hard thing in my lower back was his boner, and was too embarrassed to say anything especially since my parents were on the bus and had thanked the man for giving my brother his seat.  I endured this for about 20 minutes before we got off the bus, when I told my dad what had happened.  My dad asked why I didn’t say anything so he could beat the guy up, which is why I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t want to be the reason behind a conflict, even though I know it’s not my fault this man targeted me.  I still think of it (I’m 20 now) and always try to sit on buses instead of stand, although I know that wont prevent other men from trying to touch me.

P.S. This project is great and I’m so glad I found this blog where I can read stories about other women similar to mine. Thanks!

Denim the Menace and the Gropey Gus

I have had the misfortune of being targeted more than once on public transit.  The first time, I was 21 years old sitting in a single seat on my way back from work with my arms full of packages and staring out the window.  I didn’t notice the person sitting in the single seat behind me until I saw is hairy hand groping my left breast.  I yelled and the bus stopped and the man got up and let the bus.  I was so upset that I couldn’t speak coherently to say what the matter was.  A woman consoled me and encouraged me to talk to the driver, which I did.  He gave me the number of the complaints department.

On the way back from UBC in the summer time, a man got on the bus and sat opposite me at the rear of the bus.  He pulled up the leg of his denim shorts, which he had altered for easier access, and began to masturbate.  I moved to the front of the bus and went to the driver.  Again, the bus was stopped and the man got away.

I have also been rubbed up against on more than 1 occasion.

I am now 42 years old.  I live near VGH and work downtown.  I never take transit to work.  I work evenings and dread coming home late on public transit.  I would rather walk or drive than be sexually harassed again.  I should say, that my history prior to these incidents is one of severe sexual abuse and I felt that I was targeted because I was sending out some kind of a signal to these offenders.  I have had many years of counselling and am at a good place in my life with this but I still avoid transit specifically.  My heightened instincts for “bad people” is on high alert when I take the bus or skytrain.  I can see them better than they can see me now and they are everywhere.

Thank you so much for doing this work.  It is LONG overdue!

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:

Creeping the Sleeping

This happened on Monday November 25, 2013. I was on the 99B-line (towards Boundary) bus that left UBC at 5:02 (as scheduled).

I was sitting outside of a two seater and in front of me was only a one seater next to my window so I was free to stretch my legs out. I was having knee pains so I can’t exactly bend my knee inwards.

This senior (white hair, big belly, blue cap and blue shirt) got on the bus and tapped on my shoe telling me to move it back. I quickly apologized saying I had knee pains but I moved both my shoes back.

To my astonishment, it turns out that the senior was taking advantage of the poor girl sitting on the single seater next to the window in front of me. He was standing very close to her to the point that his belly and genitals were rubbing on the girls arm. The girl was asleep and didn’t retaliate but from my point of view I was absolutely disgusted so I asked the senior if he wanted my seat so he could stay away from the girl but he said “No” in an annoyed tone. Space wasn’t an issue in this case as there was room around him to stand away a respectable distance from the girl sitting.

After two minutes and much deliberation, I stood up and ushered him to take my seat and then he got very upset saying I can’t force him to sit. At this point he was very pissed off, but I calmly told him even if you don’t want my seat you need to give me my personal space to stand up and to step away from the girl who you’re standing very close to.

At that point, he understood my hint and moved away from the girl but he was clearly annoyed and started calling me names. I told him my action was common courtesy for seniors.

Luckily others stepped in and told him that it was nice gesture from a gentlemen but he wasn’t having any of it. It was clear that he stood there to take advantage of the poor girl who was unaware of her surrounding.

Ladies! Please I ask you.. when taking public transit sleeping or not sleeping, please protect yourselves out there. I am not victim blaming anyone, but there are predators out there looking to take advantage at any moment.

FYI, I’m a male but regardless of my gender I think its absolutely important for people to stand up against abuse. I understand it may have been dangerous for me to step in and intervene, but for the sake of the girl’s well-being it had to be done.

Bone to Pick With You

I live in Coquitlam and I had just started taking the skytrain downtown for my new job downtown Vancouver in March. One day, after work, I was on the millenium line and it was packed like sardines as per usual. I was sitting down and there was a male standing by my side; I didn’t think anything of it as the train is so busy. As we moved, he kept coming closer. I looked up, to tell him to get out of my personal bubble, as he looks down at me and PUSHES HIS BONER INTO MY ARM AND TOUCHES MY SHOULDER with his hand.

I freaked out. This is what taking public transit it is? I yelled many profanities that seasoned truckers would be proud of. Then, someone told me to “mind my language”. Thank you residents of Vancouver for NOT helping a young woman.

More Rubbing the Wrong Way

I was on the Main Street bus at rush hour. The bus was packed and it was standing room only. I thought that the old man in the suit was just standing close as there wasn’t really much room to move but he started to rub himself against my leg over and over again. I tried to get away by moving further back in the packed bus but he kept following me and kept rubbing himself against any part that was close to him. When I got to the back door of the bus, I got off at the next stop. I felt completely violated and helpless to do anything.