There are more people reporting accounts of sexual assault or harassment on trains than ever, meaning victims are now more confident speaking out. But what counts as sexual assault on public transport, and what can you do if you’re in that situation?
This unwanted behaviour can include touching you without your consent (e.g. standing way too close so they can sneakily grope your bum), making sexual comments, rubbing against you, leering at you, or even masturbating in front of you.
There is no difference between being sexually harassed on a busy train or bus in daylight compared to down a dark alleyway alone on the way back from your friend’s, so if you feel uncomfortable with someone’s behaviour, you have every right to report it.
If you can, and feel able to, try and move away. You can switch seats, move to another part of the carriage, or switch carriages altogether.
If you can, try and put yourself between the perpetrator and victim. If you can’t, then try to make eye contact with the victim. This can comfort them in knowing they have support. If the perpetrator leaves, you can then speak to the victim to make sure they are ok and to support them with reporting if necessary.
If you do want to report it, whether you’re a victim or a witness, you can text British Transport Police on 61016 or ring them on 0800 40 50 40.
Texting what, where and when it happened is a great way of discreetly reporting, especially if you are still in the situation. You should then be contacted within 24 hours. It’s even possible that an officer can come and meet the train you are on at a further station stop.
Alternatively, you can always speak to a member
They won’t catch them: There are often repeat offenders who have the same behavioural patterns so reporting your incident could also help somebody else’s case too. CCTV footage can also be used to trace perpetrators and patrolling police (both uniformed and not) can be deployed in hot spot areas.
It’s just life: Just because this awful behaviour is common doesn’t mean it’s right. Sexual assault is a criminal offence, no matter the context or the gender you identify as. Your body is your own and nobody else’s.
No one will believe me: Will anyone listen to you? “Yes and yes again,” British Transport Police say. “We want everyone to know that they will be believed and officers will do all they can to investigate.”
If you don’t feel like you can report it, other organisations such as Rape Crisis and Survivors UKcan give support, advice or just an ear. There are people out there who will believe you.
• SurvivorsUK offers advice and support to male victims of rape and sexual assault. Text on 020 3322 1860.
• Need help but confused where to go locally? Download StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
Taken from http://www.themix.org.uk/mental-health/supporting-others/sexual-assault-on-public-transport-16465.html