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)