Unsplash/Filippo Andolfatto - Picture has been edited by Les 3 sex*

Story • Powerless

26 November 2018
Ariane Audet

Stories are written by people who don’t necessarily work or study in fields related to sexology. They convey emotions, perceptions, and subjective perspectives. Opinions voiced in the stories are those of their authors, and in no way represent the position of Les 3 sex*.


☛ Ce témoignage est aussi disponible en français [➦]

Translated by Zoe Yarymowich


June 9, 2018, 9:30 AM.

I am currently in Naples, on a subway heading to Vesuvius. As always, the subway is packed with people. We are all stuck together, but at least we don’t have to wait 30 minutes for the next train. I look at the route and I have a good 45 minutes before reaching the volcano.

It smells bad, everyone is yelling to hear themselves talk and I haven’t had personal space in a while now, but you see, that is what travelling on a budget is all about. We make concessions and the subway is much cheaper than the bus. So I put on my headphones to disconnect myself from the world.

I love to travel, the freedom you feel while walking with your backpack in a new city, the breathtaking landscapes you discover and all the beautiful encounters that you have!

I am lost in my thoughts while listening to my music. I come out of my daydream a little bit because I feel something in my lower back, I would even say on my tailbone.

My first thought is that it’s a fanny pack. It has been in fashion since the beginning of the summer and it is practical for travelling. Strangely, the fanny pack moves a lot. There is probably something wrong with it.

As I turn around, I notice at my side is a lady and her young daughter who seems to be around 14 years old. I shift my gaze about 180° and I meet the eyes of a man in his thirties, dressed in old clothes with holes and who does not look very clean.

It’s when I see the gleam of excitement in his glance that I understand. I look down and to my dismay, I see that his penis is erect under his pants.

I freeze. I don’t know what to do. What do you usually do in a situation like this? Shout? Push? Run Away?

Unfortunately for me, the option to run away was not available so I tried to push him away.

Bad idea!

The simple touch of my arm on his only made the situation worse by increasing his excitement. I tried to move away from him, but there was nothing I could do, it was too crowded.

I could feel the friction of his sex on my butt. I’ve never felt so powerless. Since we were all pressed up against each other, I don’t think that anyone around us noticed what was happening. At least, I dare to believe that if someone had witnessed it, they would have come to help me.

It went on for a good 15 minutes before I was able to get away. Finally, a few people got off of the subway and I was able to sneak away from him. It wasn’t long before he found someone else. He walked over to the young 14-year-old girl.

That was too much! I tried to warn the mother.

However, she didn’t understand English and I didn’t speak Italian. She finally understood thanks to my mimicry. To my great surprise, she only took her daughter’s place and just like me, she endured it. I was expecting her to insult him in Italian and push him away, but she didn’t.

I was perplexed. I would have thought she would try to do something else to stop the situation. I was hoping she would be able to do what I couldn’t and ask for help from the people around us. I hear on the intercom that my stop is next, so I head for a door to prepare to disembark. The lady and her young daughter do the same and the man in his thirties, hand on his sex to hide it, changes cars to find his next victim.

Frotteurism is a mental health disorder that is part of the paraphilias. I knew about this disorder and had studied it, being a psychology student, however, this was the first time that I came across someone who suffered from it. I often thought about how I could have done something different.

I could have told him to get away, push him harder, or just start screaming. Why didn’t I do any of that? Maybe because I was afraid?

This is probably why I felt so helpless in front of this man who wanted to take advantage of the situation. Of course, the fact that I was in a country that I did not know and whose language I did not speak did not help my inaction. Moreover, if I had been in another context where I would not have been trapped, I probably would have acted differently, by walking away, for example.

All the same, I didn’t report him. I was afraid of him, even though I knew I would never see him again.

I have often wondered what I would have done if the man got off at my stop and followed me. It made me realize that this event could have happened in any city, even in my hometown. In this situation, it would have been likely that I would have run into this individual again on public transportation.

If that had been the case, would I have done anything differently? I hope so.

What would you have done if the man had followed you, whether on a trip or in your city?

frotteurism, report, afraid, powerlessness, helpless, public transport, assault, trip, metro, train, rubbing, fear, women, scared, violence


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