False Sense of Security....

Warning: Bad language alert.... only read on if you're not easily offended. 

Tonight I was the victim of a sexual assault during my commute home from work.

Wow, that sentence feels very heavy - too heavy. Sexual assault. Was that what it really was?  The law says it is so (if it can be proven). The cop said it was so (if it can be proven). But it wasn't rape and I didn't get hurt physically, so those two words feel overly heavy to me, and weirdly laden with victim's guilt. Was it my fault, did I encourage them, etc. etc. All of that is going through my head right now, but I'm getting ahead of myself here, let me fill you in on the backstory.

I was verbally harassed during my train journey home tonight by a roughly 13 year old boy whilst his two friends urged him on and told him new things to say to me in their native language. Lewd and disgusting things that 13 year old boys shouldn't be saying to a woman of my age, or even at all. As I left the train after enduring about 6 or 7 minutes of this abuse, one of them patted my ass. I know this because a) I felt it and b) when I turned around sharply in response, one of the boys was blaming the other for doing it. They got off the train behind me making some more noise towards me, but I bee-lined up the stairs and out of the station as quickly as possible in fear they would follow me. I saw some Metro ticket checking agents on my way up, but I was too freaked to stop and ask them for help or to report the boys' behaviour.

I walked home and immediately broke into tears when I saw my husband behind our safely closed front door. In an instant after explaining what had happened, Will had his keys in hand and was rushing off to the station to find these boys himself (teens often hang out in front of the station for some stupid reason). Thank goodness that Will found them already embroiled in a ticket dispute with police officers when he got there or else tonight might have ended with my husband in cuffs. He was definitely that angry. When he rang me to have me come down to ID the boys, I thought he was going to tell me something much worse... but thankfully he was just solving my immediate problem which was trying to find the flipping police's phone number via google. (Seriously, when you're really pissed off, even googling is difficult)

Long story short, the police now have my details, the boys deny verbally harassing me and the one boy who would admit to touching me says it was 'an accidental brushing'. I've told the police I want to press charges but I couldn't positively identify which one was the one that actually touched me. It's possible that the CCTV footage on the train will give them something to go by but I'm not very hopeful. I agreed with the coppers that I would not have the boys arrested right then as long as the police took the kids back to their parents in the squad car. If the CCTV footage turns up something useful, I'll press charges but otherwise I will have to be consoled that the incident is now on record and the parents are definitely going to be notified. Maybe it will scare them into thinking twice before bugging another woman... maybe, but I doubt it.

I am calm now, but at first I was too shocked to know what to do. And I was so freaked out on the metro that survival mode had kicked in. I was trying to be tough, funny, ridiculous - anything to get the boy to go back to his original seat and leave me alone. What I wasn't doing was paying attention to their faces! I couldn't look in their eyes, only at the floor and out the windows. I can't even be sure which of the three was the one saying the nasty things versus the ones just laughing and egging him on in another language. All I can remember is their very unique jackets and their spiky hair. I think my mind just checked out after a few minutes.... common I suppose.

I kept thinking that either they were going to follow me home and (if I was lucky) maybe they were only after my iPhone or wallet. I kept internally debating whether or not I could talk my way out of the situation if they didn't let up, whether I could harm them more than they could me, whether or not I had been wrong in not immediately chastising them and it was my fault that they kept on harassing me because I didn't act disgusted enough. And I was also angry at the fact that the other 2 or 3 people in our train car didn't seem to want to make eye contact with me despite my desperate attempts to look at them and find an out from this little nymphomaniac wannabe who saddled up next to me. Here's a brief snippet of the things which were said (I'm leaving out some of the lewder bits):

Boy: "My friend, he fancies you. He wants to fuck you."

Me, nervously: "I'm old enough to be both of your mothers twice over, no thank you."

Him: "He wants to lick your fadge. Don't you want him?"

Me, faking a laugh: "Very funny. He'd have to grow about 10 inches in height and some body hair before he'd be my type and even then I'd never be interested". Insert fake smile again.

Him: "But my friend wants you so much, hey look at me..." blah blah blah.

I think what angered me the most is the fact that I have successfully told middle aged drunk men at the bars to "fuck off and leave me alone" on a night out, but when being harassed by three rinky dink brats on my evening commute, I felt completely helpless. I guess that I am not prepared to be harassed in that environment, and especially not by children. It just really really paralysed me for some reason. And now I'm really fucking mad at myself that I took a coward route with it and tried to laugh things off in the moment instead of standing up for myself - what was I thinking?! I know I'm the victim here, but I am a STRONG woman and I can't believe I let three little kids upset me so much.

But you see, all that was going through my head in the moment was something my sister told me about her 12 year old son recently. She was saying how that my nephew has gotten so strong at only 12 that she knows he could physically harm her if he wanted to, and she's damn well glad he's too scared of her still to ever do so. "He could take me Julie, seriously he's that strong" is what she told me. So when the first of the boys sat right next to me and started saying those lewd things the first thing I thought was "I bet I couldn't stop them from taking me". I knew they weren't going to do it but I couldn't get that out of my head. Over and over. And I think that was the moment I lost my (false?) sense of security for the first time since moving here.

The police were amazing, my husband was amazing and I'm genuinely proud of myself for not just letting it slip past without report. Too many boys and men get away with harassing women in this world and only by reporting it can I wage my own little protest. Now I just have to watch my back when I ride the train every night, in case they get on it with me again. :(

On the bright side, I now know yet another British slang word for female genital. Thanks for expanding my vernacular you little bastards.