Attacked on OC Transpo Bus

In case you needed further proof that nobody is immune from street harassment, I share with you my experience last week while commuting to work.

On Friday, July 22nd I was taking the bus downtown around 8am or so. I was sitting near the back of the bus, shades on, earphones in, just a usual bus trip on the #98.

This guy got on the bus that I recognized as a regular. Everyone who takes the same buses a lot has that, where you start to recognize people with similar commutes. He always gave me a bit of a creepy vibe but I thought nothing of it.

He came and sat right behind and tapped me on the shoulder. I tried to ignore him but he kept tapping, harder and harder. Finally, I turned around and asked him what he wanted and he said he wanted to shake my hand. I said no and turned away. He tapped my shoulder again and I said “No, don’t touch me” and then he reached behind me and choked me. I yelled at him “DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME” and it’s clear that everyone on the bus heard me. However, nobody did a damn thing.

I started panicking and turned to face the front as he let go. Then he came and SAT BESIDE ME, squishing me up against the window. I felt my heart racing and told myself to stay calm, since I didn’t want to get off the bus at that moment anyway because none of the upcoming stops were busy and heaven forbid the guy follows me off the bus!

So this went on for 40 minutes at least and I sadly figured that if he stayed put and didn’t touch me, I’d be fine.

Finally, someone came on the bus that he knew so he got up and sat with them. Unknowingly, this other woman came and sat beside me and I thought I was home free.

UNTIL! I got to my stop downtown and when I went to get off, the guy came from behind and reached around to grab me from the front and pull me backward. I yelled ‘DON’T TOUCH ME!’ and he kept saying ‘I just wanted to shake your hand, not a big deal’. I shook myself free and got off the bus to see he’d gotten off the bus, too! So I went around the block and took the long way to the office in the hopes of losing him which THANKFULLY, I did.

The whole thing left me shaken and angry. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I should have written down the number of the bus or yelled at people to do something, but I was in so much shock that this person was blatantly harassing me and the packed bus stood there and did NOTHING. Nobody intervened, nobody called for help, nobody asked me if I was okay and nobody told him to stop.

What happened was terrible and for me, really drove home the need for Bystander Intervention. Clearly, nobody is immune to these types of situations and even someone like myself, who is an advocate against street harassment, has self-defense training and supports surivivors of sexual violence, can be a target for street harassment and can be left feeling powerless. It’s not up to individual people in those individual situations to become superheroes. It’s up to others to show some solidarity and intervene when someone is clearly vulnerable.