(Trigger Warning – This article discusses rape and sexual assault.)

I woke up and was sickened by what I read. I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of disbelief and sadness.

The Headline

The headline read “Woman on Train Raped As Bystanders Did Nothing.” A man on a Philadelphia train is charged with raping a woman with several passengers on board. According to surveillance video, not a single passenger made a move to stop the assault. Not a single passenger even called 911.

Footage shows that the victim was harassed by the man for approximately 40 minutes as she continually pushed him away. He then raped her for at least six minutes. This took place on the busiest route on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

Surveillance video shows that two passengers were actually holding up their phones and pointing them in the direction of the attack. Only one of the passengers submitted their video to the police.

The transit authority issued a statement calling it a “horrendous criminal act” and said that “there were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911.”

The Upper Darby Police Superintendent Tim Bernhardt said, “Somebody should’ve done something. It speaks to where we are in society. Who would allow something like that to take place?”


As I sit here typing, I can’t even believe that I am typing these words. I am crying. I am crying for that woman who was in a public place with several people around her. Several people who could have done something, anything to stop the attack.

I am crying because I am angry. How have we gotten to a place where it is acceptable to do nothing when people are being brutally attacked and violated right in front of us? At the very least, how could not a single passenger call 911?

Be Very Clear

Our children watch and listen to see how we respond to everything. They figure out how to navigate life from us. If we don’t teach our children to stand up and do the right thing, who will?

They are watching us. They are learning to be empathetic and strong or they are watching us look the other way and cowardly pretend that we aren’t seeing what is right in front of us.

I understand that sometimes people are hesitant to get involved. But we need to be very clear about what we are willing to fight for and what we aren’t because there are certain things that can never be overlooked.

This is one of them.

Courage Is Learned

It starts with us. My son and daughter are very clear that if they see someone being bullied and they do nothing, they are part of the problem. They need to do something. They can call for help or they can stick up for the person but they can’t look the other way and pretend that it isn’t happening.

Do I want them in a potentially dangerous situation? No, but they better do their best to do the right thing or their complicit silence will haunt them. It also sends a message to the victim that they aren’t worth enough to stop the injustice that is occurring right before their eyes.

For your children’s sake and for all of our sake, teach them that it is never okay to look away when someone is being bullied, humiliated or worse. Teach them to make the choice to do something; that doing nothing is not an option.

Teach them to speak up even if they are the only one who is courageous enough to do so. Teach them to do something. If one person on that train had intervened, that woman could have been spared from at least some of the hell that she endured.

Don’t look away.

Don’t pretend it’s not happening.

Choose courage.

Choose to help.

Choose to do something.


If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault and needs help, please know that you are not alone and there are people who care about you. If you need help, please email us at [email protected] or use one of the following resources.

  1. 2-1-1 Info Link Ventura County is available to you 24/7 via phone by calling 2-1-1 or at www.211ventura.org.
    Services Provided by 2-1-1:  Every hour of every day, someone requires essential services such as:
    Child Care • Emergency Financial Assistance • Health Care • Food • Shelter/Housing Alternatives • Jobs • Mental Health Support • Services for Persons with Disabilities • Resources for Older Adults and their Caregivers • Alcohol and Drug Services
  2. Coalition For Family Harmony (805) 983-6014
    Services:  Domestic violence emergency safe house, rape crisis center, batterer’s intervention program, juvenile probation program, teen dating violence, counseling and support groups, family harmony, education and outreach
  3. Safe At Home, Confidential Address Program (877) 322-5227
    Services:  For victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Use to maintain privacy when receiving first-class mail, when opening a bank account, completing a confidential name change, filling out government documents, registering to vote and obtaining a driver’s license
  4. Lompoc Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline (805) 736-0965
  5. Interface Children and Family Services (805) 485-6114
  6. National Human Trafficking Hotline-Open 24 Hours (888) 373-7888



  1. I completely agree that society has become so jaded to violence and abuse. I hope that I can be a role model to my daughter to be brave and stand up for those who can’t for whatever the circumstance may be. Thankful for this reminder and hope that we and our children will choose to do the right thing!


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