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Woman Speaks Out for First Time After Her Assault Went Viral
Elisa Lopez bravely shares her story
New York City, NY (15th December, 2014) – Two years ago, subway passenger Shasheem Smiley watched a man enter the subway, sit down next to a sleeping woman, put his hand up her skirt, and assault her. Smiley told The Gothamist “…When he started touching her that’s when I turned my camera on. My jaw dropped. I had never seen anything like this before.” The film went viral, however, despite the virality of the story, the woman in the video remained anonymous, until now. Today Elisa Lopez is coming forward with this video, telling her side of the story.
Lopez says, “My goal is to bring attention to how dangerous it is to be a bystander. I just want to tell my side of the story because all anyone saw was a drunken-skirt-wearing-Latina who ‘shouldn’t sleep on the train.’ I was a human being that was violated and no one bothered to intervene.”
The perpetrator is still at large, but today, Lopez has broken her silence and come forward with her account. She shares her story not only of what it was like to come to terms with her assault, but to have to contend with the eruption of media coverage that resulted in Smiley releasing his recording. Lopez didn’t know she had been assaulted until she saw the media explosion over the recording.
Lopez concludes the video to thank “anyone who has ever told their story because it gave me the strength to tell mine.” Hollaback!, the anti-street harassment organization mentioned at the end of the video, has collected over 8,000 stories of street harassment since their launch in 2005. Hollaback! has been working with Lopez over the past six months.
Emily May, executive director of Hollaback!, says, “What Eliza has done today in sharing her story is so powerful. We hear her, we believe her, and we are working alongside her to stand up to the harassment and assault so many New Yorkers face on a daily basis. While Eliza’s story is shocking, it is not unique. We all need to take a stand against street harassment and assault and work to make our streets safer for everyone.”
If you recognize Lopez’s assaulter, please contact Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-tips.
About Hollaback! : Hollaback! is a worldwide movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology. By collecting women and LGBTQ folks’ stories and pictures in a safe and shareable way with our very own mobile phone applications, Hollaback! is creating a crowd-sourced initiative to end street harassment. Hollaback! breaks the silence that has perpetrated sexual violence internationally, asserts that any and all gender-based violence is unacceptable, and creates a world where we have an option—and, more importantly—a response. Find out more at ihollaback.org
WARNING: Video is really, really difficult to watch. If you are triggered or need support, we’ve got your back. So does the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (613-234-2266)
We’re so excited to announce the launch of our new short doc about Cosplay =/= Consent!
But most of all, we’re eternally grateful that so many people felt comfortable sharing their stories with us.
We are a movement built on story telling. We’ve seen how it can change the world.
We’re also really happy with how things went this weekend as we checked out Pop Expo and hosted a workshop on cosplay =/= consent and the importance of being effective bystanders!
Chewbacca was a big fan of our message.
To check out the full gallery of photos from this weekend’s Pop Expo, check out our Facebook page!
As usual, if you want more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch! [email protected]
I had a meeting that ended earlier than expected and I was passing some time until my boyfriend finished up work. We agreed to meet at Rideau Centre. I came through the Mackenzie Bridge side, which we all know is fairly busy between 4pm and 5pm. I feel someone grab my arm and say “Miss?”. I turn around and it was a man. I automatically assumed maybe I dropped something and he was trying to get my attention but couldn’t because it was so noisy in the mall. He said he felt the need to tell me I am beautiful and that maybe we are soul mates because we were both wearing black coats. I tried walking away and he stepped in front of me and reached his arm out, as to block me. He asked me what I’m doing and I responded with the truth: I was meeting my boyfriend. He said that was a shame. I tried to walk away again and he then asked me if we are even engaged. I replied with “some day…”. I tried to walk away again. I managed to storm by him and I heard him say something about him needing an invitation to the wedding in case things don’t work.
I was walking home late at night and decided to take a short cut through Mooney’s Bay. It is well-lit save for the parking lot. Beside the parking lot is an amusement ride, a pirate ship. By the business’s dumpster I saw a light – a cell phone. A person was watching something on his cell phone. I heard laughter coming from the video. I walked calmly by the person, a man, until I noticed he had his penis out and was masturbating. I immediately got scared and did a 180. Walked away as fast as I can! Unfortunately I didn’t have a cell phone, so by the time I got home and called 911, it was probably too late. I still get nervous when walking past this area.
I went to the Sens game with my boyfriend. An older man and his friends were clearly intoxicated. For almost two periods, he sloppily told me how beautiful I was, that’s he’s married but can still appreciate and that my boyfriend was a “lucky man” among many other comments. All this while leaning in my lap, touching me, unintentionally spitting on my face ( as he was talking), spilling beer over me and making racial comments to my guy ( who was flustered, visibly pissed and repeatedly told him to back off).
I was on my way home from work after a quick stop at Burrito Gringo. I crossed the road to make my way and walked past a new-ish barber shop on Bronson Avenue called “Klipperz”. I had my headphones in so I didn’t think much about the gentleman saying “Hey”, he then said “Hey you!”, at this point I was getting annoyed and he whistled at me and proceeded to say “HEY!” I look up and took my headphones out assuming something was going on that needed my attention. I look up at this guy and he makes a gesture with his tongue suggesting he wanted to preform cunnilingus on me… UHM!! Not cool. Not cool at all.
I made a rude remark about how unattractive I found that gesture and that all other people in the world would also be extremely turned off. He turned to go back inside and I put my headphones back in and started to walk quickly to get home.
After some appetizers with my sister and her friends I decided to head home early. I made it fifteen feet from the door before I was surrounded by about 5, 20 something men. One of them says “I like what I see”. I clutched the keys in my hand as I was about to walk down a dimly lit street to my car when another guy barely moves out of my way, looks me up and down in a suggestive manner and says “mmm I like what I see too”. I turned around and verbally blasted them, saying “I am not here for you. Bunch of guys standing on a side street. Pathetic.” Of course they laughed it off and I felt foolish for thinking they cared what I thought. Still glad I spoke up and will always do so.
Je marchais sur le trottoir et un groupe de deux hommes et deux femmes plus âgés marchaient vers moi. Un des hommes m’a dit bonjour en passant et après il a ajouté avec un gros sourire: “T’es ben sexy toé! On appelle ça une black magic woman!”
C’est loin d’être la première fois que ça m’arrive et je suis tannée. Une fois quelque chose de similaire m’est arrivé quand j’étais avec un ami et il ne comprenait pas pourquoi je pourrais être fâchée quand on me dit que je suis “belle”. Selon moi, ce n’est pas du tout un compliment, c’est plutôt dérangeant et vraiment primitif.