He was riding a bike with a child carrier on the back.
I was walking on the sidewalk in the same direction, against oncoming traffic on a major San Jose thoroughfare. I was on my way to get quarters for the condo laundry to wash bed sheets before the movers came that day to pack us up.
My 10-year-old son was back at the house. I thought I would be gone 10 minutes at most.
I wouldn’t have even known for sure he had touched me if he hadn’t looked back and said “nice ass” as he pedaled away.
As I got closer to the parking lot of the strip mall, I could see him circling his bike in the parking area in front of the grocery store. I had visions of him doing this or worse to another woman.
So I walked to the left to the nearby gas station and said I needed to use their phone to call 911, I had just been sexually assaulted.
The 911 operator asked my location and told me to stay where I was. A patrol car would be there soon. They had a call about this man with the child carrier on his bike 20 minutes before from another woman he had assaulted.
It seemed like the two police cars were on site before I even hung up. They rushed me into the front seat of one and I pointed out the area where I saw the man circling in the parking lot.
As the police cars headed toward him, the bicyclist took off and started pedaling furiously up the thoroughfare against oncoming traffic.
Sirens blaring, the police cars did the same, me still in the front seat. It was frightening to drive with oncoming cars moving to get out of the way.
About two blocks away, the bicyclist ditched his bike and started running across the lawn in the direction of a furniture store.
The cops stopped their cars, jumped out with doors ajar, and gave foot chase, quickly catching and putting handcuffs on the man as he lay sprawled on the grass.
By now I was badly shaken from the adrenaline of fear. The police asked if there was anyone I could call to come and get me and be with me.
They walked me over to the furniture store to make my call. As I passed the handcuffed man on the lawn, he gave me a look so hate-filled it chilled me.
Fortunately, he must have taken a plea, because I didn’t have to ever attend a trial. The officers said I might not.
I was glad I didn’t have to go to court. I never wanted to see him again.
But I also was glad I called the police because I was afraid he was circling the parking lot looking for another victim. I had imagined him perhaps getting off that bike and forcing her into her car with him.
Learning he had assaulted someone before me, I am glad I had that thought. Because had he just touched my behind, made his comment and ridden on, I might not have reported the incident, angry as his unwanted touch made me.
After all, it wasn’t the first time a man had touched me inappropriately and without invitation. But he hadn’t tried to rape me.
That has happened to me. I have spoken about it to therapists and a handful of trusted people.
It is the one thing I will never write about for reasons I choose here not to disclose. It is too personal. And I am an incredibly open person. A read through my blog will confirm it to those who don’t know me.
So my hashtag for this story is both #WhyIReported and #WhyIDidn’tReport.
So you see, a woman can do both. They are not mutually exclusive.