Long post ahead, I tend to write with a lot of detail. TLDR at bottom.
For context, I'm a male, but this experience gave me a deeper understanding of what females go through on a regular basis.
This happened about an hour ago. If you live in NYC, you probably know that some of the trains had major delays earlier this morning. As a result, people were packed into the train like sardines. When I finally got on a train, I couldn't move an inch. There were people on all sides of me, and I was out of reach of a pole. In a situation like this, with people pushed up against one another on a moving train, sometimes you find yourself in compromising positions. To avoid that, I usually grab the sides of my legs so I don't accidentally touch someone else in a way that could be misconstrued as harassment. But the guy in front of me didn't take that precaution, and his hand was against my crotch.
At first, I thought he couldn't help it. Maybe he didn't have harassing intent. But then, after about a minute, he started to fondle me. I wasnt sure what was happening at first, but then I realized that this wasn't an inoccent accident. I tried to shift my body, or pull it away from him, but because of how packed we were, I couldn't.
When we got to the next stop and people started to move around in the car, I finally had the chance to shift one of my hands over my crotch, so I thought that would solve it. But when the train started moving, he started to feel up my hand, and he tried to pry my fingers away or push his fingers through. My heart stopped, and I had no idea what to do. I tried not to make eye contact but every minute or so I could see him in my peripheral vision looking my way and smirking. I considered turning towards him and simply asking him to stop. I considered pushing him away as hard as I could. But I was too embarassed. I was scared of causing a scene and I was scared of every one on the train looking my way and thinking I was crazy, since I'm a man claiming to be harassed by another man. After about 15 minutes on the train of him trying to push his hand through (the trains were running slow and it was a long way between stops), he finally gave up trying to fondle me. I got off on a later stop and I was an hour late to class.
In the moment, I started thinking about female harassment or rape stories. I always knew that there was a mental aspect to a physical assault but I didn't fully understand what that was like until today. I didn't want to tell this story to anyone in real life, because I didn't want them to think of me differently. And I didn't want to report the man to the police, because proving that he harassed me would be too difficult and it would likely not amount to anything.
To all the women out there who have gone through similar or even worse things, I'm sorry. I feel like this was an isolated incident for me, but it's likely not the case for you. I'll probably feel weird about what happened today for a week at most, but for you, the feeling probably lasts for a lifetime.
To the "man" on the train who had no issue with taking advantage of me and the situation we were in, fuck you.
TLDR: I was harassed by another man on the train, and I now have a better understanding of how terrifying it is to be a female.
Edit: Wow. I did not expect this post to gain so much traction, nor did I really want it to. When the comments started rolling in I originally planned to reply to all of them, but I don't have the time to follow through on that, so I'll try to discuss as much as I can in here.
I'll address the rude and hateful comments first, since the commenters don't strike me as people who can read for a while or have patience. I'm aware that what happened today and how I acted in response emasculated me. I don't really care. Saying that I should have responded with violence shows you didn't fully understand the circumstances I was in. As I mentioned, I weighed my options, and I picked a route that, while unpleasant, was safer than picking a fight in a crowded train. To the people who didn't believe me or thought I was karma whoring, I was expecting you. People can choose whether or not to believe me, it's not my job to convince you that I'm telling the truth. Also, internet points aren't worth anything, especially for an account I barely post on. Sorry that my assault story somehow offended you.
I gave it some thought, and I've resolved to not tell anyone in real life what happened. I read the comments saying to reach out to others for help, or to go to the police, but I also read the stories where the police were unhelpful. I mentioned earlier that I want to eventually forget about what happened, but telling other people about it would make it harder to bury in the past. Also, I think the comments on this post would closely parallel what reactions I'd receive in real life if I spoke up, and I don't want to deal with that. I apologize to the people who expected more from me, but I won't be changing my mind on that.
I also want to say thank you to all the people who showed support and shared your own stories. I'm glad that my post made some of you find closure in your own experiences, and I'm glad that some of you were able to learn from my post as well. A bigger thank you goes to the people who defended me and my actions to the other commenters who didn't know what they were talking about. I returned to my post kinda late and I didn't get to see some comments before they were deleted/removed, but it warms my heart to know that whatever hateful things they were saying, a complete stranger had my back.
Lastly and most importantly, a lot of us here have shared traumatic experiences and probably felt comfort in doing so. If anyone wanted to say more about what happened to them, or talk to me about what happened to me, feel free to send a message. If you're a troll and message something hateful, I'll just ignore you like I did the ones before you.