Thursday, 25 September 2014

What would you do?

Last week on my way home from London, I experienced something that really upset me and I can't shake the feeling.

I was at Doncaster train station waiting for my connecting train, it was about 10pm and it was dark. I went to sit in the waiting room but it was full of rowdy teenagers which made me feel very uncomfortable, so I took a seat on the platform instead and popped my headphones on to listen to some music. You see, despite my apparent confidence, I'm actually very socially awkward, I hate making conversation with people I don't know and having been subject to sexual assaults, and verbal and physical attacks regarding my size in the past I can be quite a nervous traveller. I don't, however let this stop me, that is very important to point out.

Sat on my bench I caught someone looking at me out the corner of my eye, unintentionally making eye contact with him, he then smiled at me. Despite my past experiences, I always like to be polite so I returned a very quick smile and then averted my eyes back to my phone. The man then approached me, and started to talk, so I removed my earphones so I could hear him. He asked if I was catching the Cleethorpes train, I answered yes and he commented on how it was running a little late, I replied with some little polite answer like "yes, but it's only a few minutes late, so I'm sure it will be fine" or something to that effect.

He then proceeded to sit next to me and explain he had been on holiday and asked where I'd been. I explained I'd been to London for work, and conversation ensued. It's at this point I should have removed myself from the situation, maybe gone to the bathroom or something. I was already very uncomfortable, but I really didn't know what else to do other than be polite and engage in the conversation. The man was Tunisian, in his 30s I'd guess, well presented and very polite. I guess I felt sorry for him, he explained how he worked just outside my town and how he didn't have any friends. Now don't get me wrong, I am by no means gullible, I was acutely aware that this could indeed be his way of trying to chat me up, so very early in the conversation I managed to drop in I have a husband and a child.

Finally the train arrived, but instead of getting on and finding a seat, he decided to sit next to me. My head was screaming for him to leave me alone but instead I smiled politely because I really didn't know what else to do. I was so upset, and beginning to get a little scared of this man. Despite the fact he was very nice and friendly and polite, I was so afraid. In my head I just kept thinking go away, leave me alone but outwardly I was just smiling and continuing the conversation. About halfway through the journey, I'm physically very uncomfortable and mentally freaking out. I text Michael and ask me to ring him, I can't actually tell him what's wrong because this man can see and hear everything I'm doing, but the moments relief of hearing Michaels voice is helpful.

The carriage empties and it's just me and him, I'm just about using every ounce of my strength not to scream or cry or have a panic attack, when he goes and asks me for my phone number. What the bloody hell am I supposed to say about that. I'm squirming in my seat, physically squirming. So I say, "no, sorry" - he then asks why. Arghhhh my brain is going ten to the dozen, what do I say? He then asks if it's because of my husband. I say yes. It's ridiculous, Michael would never dictate who I'm friends with and who I'm not friends with, but it's the only thing I can think of. But then he challenges me and says he only wants to be friends, and how he is lonely. I just don't know what to do. Finally, from somewhere I find the courage to tell him, I'm not comfortable with giving my number to a stranger. He accepts it, but I'm increasingly worried for my safety.

By this point I'm very weary and I rest my head on the window, he comments on how tired I look and puts his arm round me momentarily. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I'm going to get raped and murdered on a scabby old train to Grimsby. Surely this isn't how my life gets played out. I try and submerge myself in my phone, play with social media, talk to husband on text. All the while I can't actually say what is happening to me because I'm scared he's reading what I'm typing.

As we get closer to Grimsby, he takes a phone call from another Tunisian person, I only know this because he was speaking in his language, this in itself is unnerving because I have no idea what he's saying. I'm due to get off at Grimsby, one stop before Cleethorpes where he's supposed to be getting off. As we finally approach Grimsby he gets up, presumedly to let me out, but he goes over to where his cases are, I ask him, "I thought you were getting off at Cleethorpes?" he answers that he was, but his friend is coming to pick him up from Grimsby now.

Great. I've now convinced myself him and his friend are going to kidnap me, gang rape me and kill me. So I dig into my bag, get out my house keys and make a fist with one of the keys pointing out. If he's going to grab me I'm going to do some damage! Then with the other hand I ring Michael and let him know I'm getting off the train.  We can actually see the train station from our bedroom window, but he can't come and meet me because of Poppy, so I ask him to come down to the front door and keep an eye out for me (all the while he still doesn't know why). As the train doors open I say a very quick and unceremonious goodbye to the man, and do my quickest walk possible across the car park, under the rail bridge and up our street.

Needless to say, I got in safe and I would say perfectly fine, but that fact of the matter is, I'm not. The mere fact I'm writing this today means it's still playing on my mind and had an impact on me.

I'm angry. I'm angry at him for subjecting me to 90 minutes of upset, I'm angry at me for not having the guts to tell him to leave me alone. Most of all I'm angry that the world is such a shitty place that I'm made to feel like this, regardless of wether his intentions were bad or not.


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15 comments:

  1. Fuck-so sorry this happened to you. Im kind of speechless and angry.Woeful train security. Similar thing happened to me and my mate when we came back from Plus London and even though we repeatedly asked the group of drunk men harassing us to leave us a lone and were obviously intimidated a whole carriage of people looked the other way. Just awful.Sending hugs and knuckle dusters in equal measure

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  2. Hope you're ok lovely? There's no excuse for how he behaved and I'm not surprised you're angry about it. I think I probably would have done exactly the same to avoid it escalating or him getting aggressive. Sending big hugs. x

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  3. What a horrible experience. Public transport companies really need to get their act together to protect their passengers. I've been in a work situation where a supervisor was constantly asking me to have sex with him sometimes in front of the project manager. I needed the money from this job desperately so tried to take it as a joke when I wanted to to cry and run. It's easy to think what you could have done with the magic of hindsight, but when you're stuck and alone it becomes a different dimension almost. I'd consider reporting it to transport police to make them aware there may be someone worth watching out for.

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  4. I used to have to get the last train home only a 15 minute journey at night but would often get strange drunk men talking to me and making me feel uncomfortable yet I was always polite in return for fear of not being would provoke a worse situation, never any conductors around. Sending you big hugs xxx

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  5. What a horrible situation and what a creep he was :-( I'd probably have acted similar to you but then been angry with myself afterwards for not telling him to eff off. Don't be too hard on yourself, try and put it behind you if you can. Take care x

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  6. What a horrible situation to be in. Sadly I think I would have done exactly the same - for stupid reasons of being polite and not wanting to cause a fuss.
    It may have been innocent but he definitely crossed boundaries.
    Try to put it out of your mind and think of all the journeys you've made without any hasslehassle x

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  7. What a horrible man. He obviously knew you were uncomfortable. Don't let it knock your confidence, you're a inspiration to us all. He deserved a swift kick in the swingers (as my hubby would say)! Glad you're okay xxx

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  8. That's awful. I'm sorry you had to go through that. :( x x

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  9. This is horrible!! I am sooo sorry you had to endure this.

    This is EXACTLY what the whole #yesallwomen campaign was all about!!

    Women are not respected in today's society, we are seen as conquests or pretty things to acquire, ornaments etc. Or if we are "overweight" we are supposed to be "flattered" by this kind of advance/assault/uncomfortable behavior.

    We're stuck hoping that strange men will respect that fact that we are "already taken" by other men but that doesn't always work because they just don't believe us. Which leads on to a whole other thing that angers me!! Why do I only get left alone if they know another man already has dibs?!!!

    I know this got shared like crazy but it rings so very true "not all men are rapist is like, here is a bowl of m&m's, only a few of them are poisonous, now go ahead and eat that candy"!

    No, not all men are bad and maybe he wasn't out to get you, but unfortunately, we live in a world where sadly, as women, we often and I mean often, like almost on a daily basis will have the thought "this is it, this is when I get raped" like its an eventuality that we can't avoid. It's not ok, men need to learn respect.

    It's all so terribly sad. I'm very sorry you went through it, my skin would have been crawling. I probably would have called my husband for a "casual chat" for some protection. But honestly, that doesn't nothing for the fact you still had to endure the terror of the situation you were put in.

    And sorry for the rant, it's a hot button issue with me.

    <3 <3 <3
    margot

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  10. Ugh how awful! I'm sorry you had to go through that. :( I hope he stepped in gum on his way home.

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  11. You poor thing. Have you checked if there is cctv on the train, and I would report it both to the train company and the police.I know the police prob wont do anything but it does need reporting. xxx

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  12. It is awful that you were made to feel like this and that it is still playing on your mind now ( In your situation I would have been EXACTLY the same, tho if he put his arm around me, I think my nerves would have given in and I proberly would have vomited on him)! But you should be proud that you had the courage to say no to giving him your phone number! Your an amazing woman and a great inspiration to alot of us, I'm glad your safe!

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  13. So sorry you had to experience this. I agree with Margot, a prime example of why #yesallwomen is more than relevant. I've had this happen a couple of times now but the second time I told him he was making me uncomfortable and I moved carriages. Thankfully didn't follow me.

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  14. HI Becky, Firstly I am so sorry this happened to you; Secondly maybe you should get in touch with the train company and or british transport police, as they will be able to access the cctv, or at least be aware of this weirdo he may be doing this numerous times a day. A train must always have a guard onboard, so if you ever feel uncomfortable in anyones company, get up (loo break) & find the guard, they will deal with the situation, or let you move somewhere else & be able to keep an eye on you. I know that technically he did not "do" anything apart from invade your personal space (which is vile & I am not making light of it, It makes my skin crawl) but maybe someone higher up should be aware of this creepy man. xx

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  15. That is a horrible, horrible situation to find yourself in. I probably would have done exactly the same as you despite feeling like my skin wanted to crawl off for fear of offending. I hate that women are so easily made to feel like this, so desperately afraid of offending someone because of what might happen next.

    I totally agree with Margot Meanie's comments about #yesallwomen it is exactly this sort of position that many of us inadvertently find ourselves in all too often.

    I hope you're OK about it and that your OH was sympathetic.

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Thank you for your comment, I love reading what everyone has to say! B x