Alix Parker says her “nightmare” began with a jolt on a city bus.
The young mother, groggy from a day that started at 4 a.m., says she woke up as her Halifax Transit bus came to a sudden stop on Joseph Howe Drive, a busy Halifax thoroughfare.
The 19-year-old says she looked down and was stunned to see a strange man moving his hand on her thigh between her legs on a bus packed with people heading home at the height of rush hour on Feb. 25.
Now, she’s telling her story – and using her full name – to encourage others to come forward.
“Women are expected to just deal with this,” she said in an interview Monday. “I so want more women to step forward and say, ‘This happened to me on this date what are you going to do about it’ and not back down until something is done. This isn’t right.”
Parker, who was on her way to pick up her son at daycare, said she got a slight glimpse of the man before he stood up and walked off the bus. She described him as having a tattoo of a name on his neck and pierced ears, with a slim build and wearing a green wind breaker.
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Police spokeswoman Const. Dianne Woodworth said they are investigating the allegation and reviewing footage from the bus.
“I told myself to suck it up”
A spokeswoman for the Halifax Regional Municipality, Jennifer Stairs, confirmed that Halifax Transit received a complaint from a woman on Feb. 25 and that the transit service is co-operating with the police investigation.
Parker said she immediately texted her boyfriend, but carried on her way to pick up her 2.5-year-old son before going home.
“I told myself to suck it up until I got home because I still had to be a mom,” she said.
Parker said she has been left anxious and fearful, but has to take at least five buses a day to get her son to daycare and then to the Nova Scotia Community College, where she studies in the adult learning program.
She no longer sits at the back of the bus, doesn’t sit next to anyone she doesn’t know and said she has nightmares that leave her fighting off her boyfriend in her sleep.
But, she said the support she has received after telling her story has been overwhelming, adding that people have been emailing her with their stories and bus drivers have offered to have her sit up at the front with them.
“People are angry that this happened and that’s exactly what I want,” she said.
“This should not happen to anyone. You should never be made to feel like an object. You should never be violated that way.”