Julia Marquand was shopping in downtown Seattle on Oct. 12 when a man began following her closely, then reached out and grabbed her butt.
Instead of ignoring it, however, Marquand took the issue into her own hands. Thinking quickly, she snapped pictures of her attacker on her phone and reported the incident to the police, she told KING 5 News. When the cops didn't seem interested, she turned to social media and tweeted her purported offender's mug, where it went viral.
Her tweet also caught the attention of local media, which eventually led to the man being identified as Daryl Sharma, a "level 3" sex offender who had previously been convicted of groping another woman. Shortly thereafter, the Seattle Police Department arrested him for violating his supervision's terms.
Currently, social media is too often used as a tool to shame and threaten women online. Marquand's actions turned the tables on this trend, however, empowering herself and others in the process. Indeed, her tweets jump-started a conversation about women's experiences with street harassment, highlighting just how pervasive it is through the various stories others began to share.
Marquand is right: Street harassment is very much a serious issue, and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.
As Mic previously reported, "harassment in public spaces is a significant problem in the United States, with 65% of women reporting they have experienced some form of street harassment in their lifetimes. Even worse, 41% reported physically aggressive forms, including sexual touching, following, flashing and being forced to do something sexual." It can even have deadly consequences.
Something so socially ubiquitous, like street harassment, demands an equally sweeping response, and Marquand is not the first victim to attempt to take justice into their own hands. Like Marquand, other women have been detailing their harassment online for months. This summer, a Minneapolis woman began recording and uploading videos of her harassers to YouTube, and a woman in New York City recorded the man she said exposed himself on the subway. Apps like Hollaback! have also made reporting harassment even easier.
So, take note, harassers: Think twice before catcalling, groping or otherwise assaulting women on the street. Yours might be the next face circulating on social media.