I’m very open about my experience and, being a comedian, I constantly make jokes about it because I think that's the only way I could talk about it.

I was living in Woodside, Queens and had already been there for almost two years. It was a safe neighborhood, highly populated by Irish and Asian people.

I guess I was about 20ish and a virgin at the time — kind of a prude, comfortable being physical only with someone I trusted.

I was walking home at 2 pm in broad daylight; I didn’t notice anyone following me home as I was too busy jamming to Fall Out Boy on my iPod. I reached my front door, which wasn’t very far from the train, and that was when I noticed a young man standing behind me.

woman being followed
photo: iStock/Connel_Design

He was of medium build, a few inches shorter than me — a young Asian man with a polo shirt on. Not the kind of person that you’d think would try anything funny. I had my keys in the door when I noticed him. 

I turned and looked at him, and before I could say anything he said, “I’m visiting my friends.” He had his phone out in his hand, and I didn’t think much of it; he didn’t look like what I imagined a predator looked like, and besides, it was 2 pm.

I turned my back to him and that’s when I felt a hand come up from behind and underneath me and touch my vagina. I screamed and he ran away.

I always felt weird talking about what happened because there are so many women who experience so much worse... But what happened to me is still valid...

There’s been a lot of “grab-‘em-by-the-pussy” talk in the media lately, and I thought, “Hey, that actually happened to me.” Someone once grabbed me by the pussy. And it sucked. I’m very open about my experience and, being a comedian, I constantly make jokes about it because I think that's the only way I could talk about it. It’s been almost nine years since this man's little sausage-finger grab, and I’m still very confused by the situation and can’t make sense of it.

When I think about it, I am very lucky that my assault wasn’t anything more than just vagina touching. According to the Department of Justice, around 300,000 women report a rape every year — and those are just the women who report it.

I always felt weird talking about what happened because there are so many women who experience so much worse, and it’s also very strange to have the feeling of, "Well, I wasn’t raped so... it’s not a big deal." But what happened to me is still valid — a man I didn’t know touched me in a way I didn’t want anyone to touch me.

I wish I was writing an empowering article on how this made me a stronger woman, but it didn’t; if anything, I feel weaker. A stranger violated my body. If I catch someone staring at me for too long, I get overwhelmed with fear that they will try to pull something. Even just seeing someone who looks like they’re fantasizing about you is enough to make your stomach turn.

Making jokes about it helped me talk about it.

A few weeks later, I was walking home and this man was walking very close behind me and I — just being vagina-grabbed a few weeks prior — was walking slower and slower to see if the man would pass me. When he didn’t, I moved to the side of the road. The man happened to be Latino and I guess he assumed that because of his ethnicity I was judging him. At that moment he turned to me and yelled.

“Do you think I’m following you?” he screamed at me.

I know how it probably looked to him. But it wasn’t a race thing at all; if anything, what I learned about my assault is that it’s probably who you least expect. I feel bad that the man felt the way he did, and he has a right to — he lives in a world where he’s being judged all the time. But on the other hand, he was also standing really close behind me.

What’s shitty about the man who followed me home that afternoon is that he was never caught. When I turned around, he was gone. There was an older gentleman who was walking past my building at the time, and I yelled, “Get him!” But the man just stared at me, watched the man run, and walked away.  

When I think about it, I’m more upset about the older man — he saw the whole thing and walked away. Why didn’t he do something?

No matter how powerful or independent a woman may seem, she might not always feel in control. Women are sometimes scared to speak up and share their experiences because they feel like they won’t have support.

Pussy-grabbing is not “locker room talk.” It’s something that really happens, and it happened to me at 2 pm. I was coming home from the gym.