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  • Writer's pictureLia Athena

Attacked on the Subway

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

November 2020

A true story.

Warning: Expletive language

I never thought something like this could happen to me.

I never thought someone would be physically violent with me.

But it did.

Don’t me wrong, what happened wasn’t really really bad. It was something minor in the scale of things. There was no sexual assault. There was no discrimination against me. What happened is nothing compared to what countless people have to face every day. It was minor. And you don’t have to read this, by the way.

But in my world, it wasn’t minor. It wasn’t something that happened and I can easily move on from it. Luckily it didn’t get so bad. But here is what happened: I was on the subway, taking the E train in lower Manhattan, early afternoon on a November day, minding my own business, ordering a pickup for Chipotle on my phone. And a young man without a mask was approaching me, looking above me, at the electronic plaque looking at, what stops the E train has. Well supposedly looking at it. And I was aware of him, but I assumed he would just ignore me like crazy people usually do. They act crazy. But they never take action toward you. This time was different.

It happened so quick. All of a sudden his hand, probably, his weak fist hit my forehead hard, but not too hard that it left a bruise or was painful. It startled me and thanks to the self-defense classes I take (I prepare myself for these kinds of scenarios, because unfortunately this is the kind of world we live in), I reacted quickly and immediately stood up and gave him a shove. I’m 5’7 and was definitely taller than him. I stood my ground. He didn’t use any more physical force, probably because he knew he’d lose.

But he was talking to me, more like throwing words at me, his eyes wide and enlarged, he must have been high or something. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was a burble of words.

I raised my voice: “what the fuck is wrong with you? What do you want from me?”

He was saying why I’m not giving him money.

I looked at him, he held his hands like he was holding a gun or knife. But there was no weapon. He just had his little force against me (which was stupid. I know Krav Maga, a self defense-martial arts used in the Israeli Army).

Luckily, I didn’t have to use any force with him. Because he didn’t try anything.

I looked around the car. It was an almost empty car, a woman on her phone with ear buds plugged in. She didn’t look up. She didn’t know what was going on. Luckily I didn’t need any help, but it felt horrible to just be alone in that car. And I go in empty cars now, not because I’m stupid. But because we live in a pandemic. I have to lessen my exposure to the virus because I live with my family. I can’t risk them getting anything. I told him I didn’t have any money.

He was mumbling how he wanted to fuck me and how I should be honest with him.

The train was stopping at the station, I saw people outside the window, no one knew what was happening.

I was alone.

The doors opened and I left and he was following me out, but he slipped into the crowd, and I went back in the car. I didn’t think of telling the police. There were no witnesses, it was my word against his. There are no cameras in the car (there should be, though). And I wasn’t really hurt physically. This was something minor where there are other stuff that are much worse. I was clearly shocked.

But I continued to order my Chipotle dish, trying to keep the tears at bay.

I’m not asking for anything. This is not a plea for attention. I definitely do not want your pity.

I just wanted to let you know. This can happen to anyone or someone else. Keep your eyes out. Don’t plug yourself into a virtual world when you are in the outside world. Look out for others.

I don’t know why he chose me. Was it because I was closest to him? Was it a matter of convenience? Was it because I’m a woman? A young person? Because I’ve started wearing my bisexual bracelet after Biden won? Do I look so different because I’m mixed that I become a target in his eyes? Was it because I don’t cross my legs while sitting like “how a lady should?” I don’t know. It could be a random thing or some of the above or all of the above. I will never know.

But whatever the case is, I’m still going to be my full authentic self. Showing the world who I am and what I stand for. Because nothing can stop me.

I am okay.

The world is like this. People can be evil. Anyone can be a victim. Anyone can be a perpetrator. This is a fact for all of eternity.

It’s ironic though. I go on dates with people I meet on dating apps. My work takes me to neighborhoods I’m not familiar with very late at night. And this happens to me in the middle of the day on a subway I’ve been taking all my life. A subway in Lower Manhattan. But I am grateful nothing worse happened.

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