Well, Aren’t You Creepy!

I had an unfortunate experience on transit today – I was getting on a crowded bus, and while standing at the front an older man turned, leered at me and said “well aren’t you pretty!”. I didn’t say anything, just smiled politely, signalling that I heard the “compliment” but didn’t want to engage further (was on the way to an audition). He continued, “How did you get to be so pretty?”. I said nothing and tried to walk past him. That’s when he stopped me and said “Why don’t you give me a hug?”. I very clearly replied “No”, and then tried to walk past him again. He then blocked my way past, moved closer to me and said “Cmon, just give me one hug.”
Without thinking, in a LOUD, clear voice so all my fellow passengers could hear, I said “Stop it! You are being innapropriate. Back off!” And like a dog who had been scolded he immediately shrunk and backed out of my way. I walked to the back of the bus as far away from him as I could get. He stood the rest of the bus ride staring forward and did not look at me again.
It felt SO GOOD!
Usually when dealing with transit or street harassment I just ignore it – but today I stood up for myself and in a moment I went from feeling very powerless in the situation, to having all the power. I highly recommend it.
wishing you all,
LOVE AND PEACE AND BETTER BUS RIDES.

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Terrible Tag-Team

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.

Assaulted and Ignored

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.

SuperDriver, Protector of Women Just Trying to Get Home (19/f)

I thought I’d share a story of a bus driver who was kind enough to go out his way for me one night.

When I was a 19-year-old student and first moved from Victoria I lived deep in Steveston and there were very few buses that could get me home late at night. Of course I would still go to downtown Vancouver sometimes on the weekend, drink, and take the last possible night bus home by myself. Yes, this could be dangerous activity for a young woman, but violence is never the fault of the victim, no matter what I drank, no matter what I was wearing, no matter how unlit the streets at the end of No.2 road were ten years ago. As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t going to limit my life by fear. I was young and invincible. I had bear spray.

Usually I was the last one on the bus which let me off to walk the twenty minute route home along unlit farmlands. I would at the back of the accordion bus and read a book for the long ride from the city. One night I had missed the last bus that would take me closest to home and had to settle one that would get as close as possible, a forty minute walk.

On an otherwise empty bus, a man came and sat down right next to me, essentially trapping me in the back corner seat. He commented on my outfit. “I like your skirt.” “Are your legs cold?” and eventually, “Where is your stop?” He continued by asking and then telling me to come home with him. I sat upright, I looked at him in the eye, and I kept responding with various versions of “no.” I held back my rapidly beating heart with what I hoped was a cold and strong exterior. I was terrified. My stop came, and I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to touch him as I brushed past, and even worse, I was petrified knowing he might follow me off.

Creepy guy eventually left the bus and I got up to ask the driver where this bus went and where we were. The kind driver said that after he got to the last stop he could then drive me all the way home on the bus – and he did. It was hours past midnight, he was at the end of his shift, but he did it anyways, and I can’t thank him enough.

Ever since, when I am the only one on a night bus, I sit right up near the front where the driver can hear and see me.

I Don’t Know About You (But I Don’t Much Like the 22)

It was just this Sunday afternoon, in the middle of the day that I was aboard the 22 MacDonald heading to a yoga class downtown. I moved to the back of the bus after a big group of elderly people got on the bus and I was seated in the very back row, not quite in the centre. A guy sat next to me, in the centre and immediately started to stare at me and then make conversation with me. Being polite, I respond back to him but stay guarded. He’s asking me questions about my yoga mat and telling me about the time that he did yoga in a hospital. I can see an older women sitting on the other side of him looking on and I can feel and see her anxiety for me on her face.
Eventually, the guy asks me if I “take everything off’ when I do yoga to which I angrily reply, no I keep my clothes on. Then I put my headphones in, the guy on the other side of me gets off and I slide one seat over to put space between myself and the creep — but for naught. He taps me on the shoulder and then asks me if I want to go to a movie with him, and I tell him “no, sorry I have a boyfriend” (like I a) should have to tell him that I’m sorry and b) should have to legitimize my no with the fact that I have a boyfriend).  The creep continues to stare at me, and then slides over next to me, boxing me in between the window and himself and being too close for comfort. When someone takes the centre seat in the back row, he uses this as an excuse to slide even closer to me and violating my personal space, all the while staring at me and then starting to touch his crotch. I was paralyzed by fear and actually shaking by this point, anxious for my stop to arrive. The older woman gets off and she looks behind to give me a lingering look — I can feel how worried she is for me, and I am worried myself. I’ve had a lot of weird experiences in my life, in various cities as well as on Translink, but this one was different and terrifying.
When we get into downtown I start arranging my things and the creep asks me if I’m getting off soon. He sits even closer and I ask him to please move over because he’s making me uncomfortable. I was so fearful for how I was going to get past him when it got to my stop because of so little room, I thought he might try to grab me. I finally moved to get off the bus and put my bag and yoga mat between him and myself and shimmied out as fast as possible an went to the bus driver to tell him about this creep. That’s when I look back and notice he’s standing at the back door waiting to get off with me. I told the bus driver he’s getting off with me, and just booked it from the bus stop to my yoga studio where I arrived consumed with fear.
I have never, in my life, felt so scared for my own personal safety and been purposely made to feel so uncomfortable. I don’t know if this guy was doing it on purpose to scare me to get off or if he actually was intent on following me and hurting me. Either way, this is completely inappropriate behaviour and so very indicative of the kind of culture that we live in. We live in a culture that is complicit in rape — we stand by and watch someone be harassed and do nothing about it, and we have boys growing up to be men who believe that this behaviour is okay — that they have an entitlement to a woman’s attention and space.
The 22 is one of the worst lines I ever have to take and unfortunately I have to take it as I live off of Knight Street. On this bus, I have had a man “accidentally” grab my leg, been stared at, aggressively hit on and once witnessed a man verbally abuse his partner on the bus telling her awful things like “if you don’t suck my dick I’ll cut your throat” and nobody did a thing about it. The City of Vancouver and Translink needs to take greater responsibility on the types of inappropriate behaviour that occurs on the bus because I’ve taken transit in more crowded and very much less developed cities but I have never experienced the same degree of harassment as I have on Translink.

“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.