Woman fights back against sexual harassment on subway

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – Being violated in a public place is lonely.

Sexual harassment on the subways leaves many women feeling helpless and confused about how to react.  Should they report it? And what’s the best way to do that.

When Nicola Briggs sexually harassed in the spring of 2012 on the #No. 4 train, fighting back was the only option for her.  Her encounter was caught on video and put on YouTube.

“I wonder why is this person rubbing up against me”, said Briggs, “I realized you have all this xxx-ing space here and I see his penis out.  That’s it!,” she yelled to her fellow subway passengers, including her sexual harasser.

“You are getting arrested tonight. My plans are done for the night.”

Briggs is now an inspiration for sexual assault victims; so too is Emily May.  She founded “Hollaback,” a non-profit organization that aims to give a voice to victims of all types of sexual harassment... including groping and men exposing themselves.

“We were sick and tired of being hollered at, so we thought, Hollaback!,” said May.

Most distressing, said May, was how young some of the victims are.

“The victims were like 7, 8, 12, 13 and they felt like they were alone, that no one had their back, and they couldn’t tell their parents, they couldn’t tell their friends, they were ashamed, and we were like, look, we can’t let these girls go through this alone!” explained May.

Police tell PIX11 that sex crimes are more difficult to combat without dedicated and practiced efforts.  Only 67% of all sex offense cases end in an arrest.

Toward that end, Hollaback! decided to create an app to give victims an easy and secure place to report the crime.  You can download the Hollaback! App.

When Nicola Briggs fought back, the man she accused was arrested, found guilty and eventually deported.