A few hours ago, I saw what physical harassment looks like right in front of you.
I was at a bus stop with one of my colleagues from work and trying to get to know her until this strange man started making noise. He looked unstable and homeless, so I didn't take him too seriously.
He started off very small by throwing random harmless comments, so I continued focusing on what my colleague was trying to tell me, but as the seconds went by, his words became more vulgar, more aggressive and more racist.
Up to this point, this man was just being vocal, but it was making everyone extremely uncomfortable. I was just counting the minutes for the bus to arrive and drive us away from this man. Those were the longest 6 minutes of my life because what started off as verbal, became physical.
Nobody was entertaining his comments, and nobody was planning to, so he then suddenly starts kicking random objects. We still just try to ignore him but the moment he started moving closer to my colleague, something inside of me completely changed. I stopped talking to her and just placed myself between him and her. I continued this several times as he kept on trying to approach her. He eventually stopped to then target this woman who was standing more isolated from the rest of the people that were waiting for the bus. I don’t know what I was thinking or not even thinking at all, but my body just went in cruise control and I just stepped in between them to keep him at a safe distance from her because he was getting very aggressive. I had my arms crossed because I am not a fighter, and nor was I gonna fight but at that moment I just wanted one thing, and that was to protect that one woman.
When the bus finally arrived, instead of entering through the front, I accompanied this woman on the bus through the back where she walked quickly to the back seats. The man, of course, tried to follow her. I blocked his path before he could even get close. That’s when he started with what felt like a soft mix of pushing and punching. I gave him a strong push that moved him at a safe distance, and then the bus driver started yelling. He gave him a warning which calmed him down a bit. I decided to check up on my colleague, but in the meantime, the man got to the woman and was holding her wrist tight. I immediately intervened and pulled his hand away and pushed him back to the door. Things went crazy and other people on the bus were finally stepping in as we got to a bus stop.
The bus stopped and the bus driver and I pushed the man out of the bus. He started telling the woman to walk out of the bus to join him and she actually started walking towards him. At that point, I was like “what in Ursula’s magic is going on here?” Maybe she was walking out of fear, I don’t know, and I will never know, but a lady stopped her and asked her something so amazing that if I had a wig, that wig, would have jumped through the bus window.
“You don’t have to do what this man says. You have the choice at this moment to stop the cycle. It’s your decision."
And just like that, she stepped back and girllllll, this lady pushed the man, the doors closed and we drove off.
Crazy. This made me think very deeply about the whole situation because I didn’t know I had it in me to step up for a stranger. I discovered a brave and very caring side of me that I didn’t know existed. It made me think of so many things like damn, imagine if I was in the harassed woman’s place or if this was my sister.