What I learned about myself from being threatened on a train

I was involved in something recently on the public trains here in Melbourne, Australia. Basically a white man in his late 20’s early 30’s came at me aggressively from another train carriage.He didn’t like that I had eyes and could therefore see him being a dumb shit with his two friends (man and woman). They boarded 2 stops after I did and were incredibly loud and frantically moving from seat to seat. When he approached me aggressively I had to ask him 4 times if he had lost something, because he found his native language hard to understand. It’s impossible to prepare for an aggressive encounter with someone, but having said that I wish I had reacted differently when he threatened me.

This man thought he could be rude to me and that I would be too scared to respond because he was quite taken aback when I told him off, repeatedly. I had just as much right to be on that train as he did and I wasn’t going to let him control me. When he threatened me with violence I wish I had responded more immediately. I wish I had calmly disengaged, gotten up from my seat and found the emergency button. I paid my fare, which means I paid for these services; however, sometimes I don’t feel entitled to sounding an alarm (literally and figuratively) or demanding things. I did notify a train cop when I saw one and filed a report. There are cameras on the train and since I filed a verbal report (it only took 5 minutes) soon after it happened with the correct train line and stop, they’ll probably be able to find it on video.

I’ve learned something. For much of my life I’ve had instances where someone was being an absolute asshole (usually at work) and while sometimes I’d report them, there were times where people would try to talk me out of it. I think a lot of women feel this way. As if we would personally be responsible for ruining our harassers reputation. This, of course, is victim blaming. Of course, in this train “interaction” I was not worried about ruining anyone’s reputation, but just didn’t even consider finding an emergency button and pushing it for just little ol’ me. I want to do better about feeling entitled to services and interventions when I feel like my safety is in jeopardy or harassment is taking place.


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