Earlier this week, one local woman shared her harrowing story of the sort of inexcusable behavior that is unfortunately still all too common in every woman's day-to-day life. And it happened on a public bus in downtown San Francisco. On her personal blog, Brittney explains her sexual assault on a bus on Market Street:
I did what I usually do and quickly, discreetly sized up my seatmate. He was a disheveled middle-aged man with blonde hair that was either dusty or graying. He smelled strongly of alcohol on his breath, body and clothes. He didn't smell like piss and weeks upon weeks of not showering, like other unfortunate people who sometimes take the bus, but he looked like he was swiftly headed in that direction. This man was clearly intoxicated and behaving strangely. He swayed in his seat and repeatedly made the sign of the cross, which is highly disconcerting, let me assure you. When women would board and stand next to where he sat he would try to engage them. They would quickly move away...
He tried to engage me as well. My defense was to aggressively ignore him on the very crowded bus by staring out the window and keeping my headphones on. I had just three stops to go. When he tried to talk to me (words I couldn't hear due to the music) I shook my head no and held my hand up, flattened, to signal that I wished to be left alone.
When the bus approached her stop near the busy intersection at 5th and Market, her seatmate didn't budge. She goes on:
I stood a few seconds before the bus came to a halt, a clear indiction that I was getting out and off the bus. When the bus stopped the man to my right swiveled his legs around rather than stand, so I took a wide step to get around him and as I did he grabbed me between my legs.
Without thinking I turned and swung my heavy purse containing a server's book, a hardback journal and loose, sharp pens at his head, but barely connected. I think the purse grazed his face. I screamed FUCK YOU, also without thinking, and fled off the bus.
I stepped down onto the concrete platform, my head swimming in a raucous tide. A young man beside me asked what happened. "He grabbed me between the legs," I told him.
The young man shook his head. "And that man said, 'What?,' like he didn't do nothing."
The next day Brittney attempted to file a police report. Even with the slim chances of SFPD finding the groper, these sorts of crimes go underreported and she rightly believed more reports could possibly lead to increased security or police presence on Muni. That's when she was met with a disappointing response from the local police.
After explaining the incident, the officer at the Southern station responded: "Okay. What do you want to do? File a report?" He then went on to explain her limited options: "We have a Muni task force. We can give them this info and they can be on the lookout for this guy. Or you can file a full report, but it won't do anything."
Despite the deterring advice, Brittney left the station with a case number and a police report for "sexual battery." In her own words, she explains: "[The officer] finally, finally mustered that he was sorry this happened. He told me to be careful. It sounded a lot like, 'don't let this happen to you again.' "