As reports of sex crimes on the subway rose, a 15-year-old girl was grabbed by a stalker on the same subway platform twice in one week.
Last Wednesday, the girl reported that a man on the platform of the Atlantic Avenue station stared at her, then followed her and approached her, grabbed her arm and told her to go with him. The victim refused, and the man fled, the NYPD. said
On Tuesday, the suspect tried again on that very same platform.
This incident comes on the heels of an NYPD report Tuesday that revealed a nearly 20 percent increase this year as police cited sexual touching, lewd behavior and voyeurism as the most common offenses.
It doesn’t surprise Vincenza Carovillano, a 48-year-old Bronx makeup artist, who has continued to notice these predators since an incident that happened to her almost 20 years ago.
Carovillano recalled an instance in her 20s that has changed how she commutes late at night.
“He followed me into my doorway from the train car, thank god I had a neighbor come down, and heard me screaming…it’s scary,” she said.
The man was groping himself, Carovillano said.
She now chooses to take a $7.50 express bus from midtown, once she finishes up work.
“You don’t want to put yourself in that situation, it’s a lot of money, but its so much safer,” Carovillano said.
She credits age and having a stronger sense of her surroundings as critical.
“As a young girl, I wasn’t aware… I feel as girls are so into their own world, people look for that, people are predators,” she said.
Amanda Cruze, a 23-year-old from Queens, said a man touched her last year on a downtown subway platform.
“I was really scared because there were no other passengers,” Cruze said.
Now she chooses to ride Uber over any subway late at night, because of that incident.
According to NYPD, the uptick of complaints and arrests is due to passengers taking cell phone photos of perpetrators, reported the New York Post.
Debjani Roy, interim executive director of HollaBack!, an international organization, that aims to fight street harassment, agreed, saying with the increase of technology and ways to report, more people have been coming forward, either anonymously or not.
Hollaback! has a phone application that allows users to share and report their experiences. The organization guards personal information and allows users to pin drop a location of where the incident happened.
Based on their data, Times Square, Soho and Wall Street have areas where harassment happens most, which Roy says could be a density issue.
The stories and the reports show local legislators and community leaders what is happening in their district, Roy said.
Her organization is showing how prevalent these experiences are so more can be done tto prevent them, Roy said.
“As a survivor, you want options, you don’t want to deal with authoritative figures at that moment, it’s intimidating, it’s a really great opportunity to unanimously share your story,” Roy says.
But women like Cruze and Carvovillano who have chosen alternative ways to go home late at night, say the price they pay to get home is worth it in order to stay safe.