PoPville PSA – Have Fun but Remember to Be Smart

Photo by PoPville flickr user ewilfong

“Dear PoP,

Friday night around 2 am there was a woman walking home alone and intoxicated who was assaulted by 2 dudes in the alley off 18th street in Mt Pleasant. She luckily was only scuffed up and fortunately she’ll physically recover, but the incident rattled the woman and the neighbors. I think there are a couple important learning points we need to take away from what happened Friday night (and what happens too often in our city). Obviously, we’re not going to stop crime but there are important measures one can take to reduce the odds of becoming a victim. If you’re going to get lit (and I enjoying having drinks as much as anyone) then be smart about how you get home. For the past four years I’ve worked in one of the busiest ER’s in town and have been keeping a mental tally of the demographics behind assault victims that I treat. Where were they? Who were they with? Intoxicated? All too often, these people have been walking home alone, deep into the night, and are intoxicated. It’s not rocket science. Don’t make yourself an easy target. Take a cab, get a ride from a friend, or walk home with a friend (I rarely see an assault when people are walking in groups), especially if you’ve been drinking.”

I know I’ve certainly made the mistake of walking home when I should’ve taken a cab. As the original poster says this is not a case of blaming the victim but sadly, walking home alone after a night drinking can be like a form of Russian roulette. This is probably the best advice that was ever given to me years ago. When in doubt, don’t hesitate, and always take a cab home late at night especially if you have been drinking. The advice can be easy to shrug off but it’ll be the smartest money you ever spent if you consistently heed the advice. And remember this advice applies to all DC neighborhoods!

25 Comment

  • To help prevent such assaults and make getting a ride home an easier/more affordable option for all, please consider making a donation to help Holla Back D.C. and Right Rides expand to the D.C. area. They provide free, safe rides for women and LGBTQI people.


    • My cousin and I were just talking about how we’d pay extra for a cab service that’s safe for women (I boycott DC cabs and she just risks it with sometimes horrible consequences). This is very exciting! I just donated.

  • so you are telling me to go into a strangers car and let him know where I live

  • Accept the fact that crime isn’t going away and get into a cab (who were some of the biggest crooks in DC before the meters) and live in fear.

    Someone needs to go to the Jon Stweart rally this weekend.

    • There’s a difference between fear and respect. Everyone should respect the fact that there is a criminal element that seeks to prey upon intoxicated women (and others) in the middle of the night. Planning ahead for trasportation or just springing for the cab is excellent advice. It’s certainly a better prospect than the possibility of getting assaulted and raped or am I wrong NAJD?

      • And men. I’ve seen some guys who were so drunk headed for the Woodley Metro, I was tempted to rob them myself.

  • Make those convicted of assault pay for drunkard cab rides!

    • Actually, that’s not a bad idea — try to get City Council to pass a law enabling courts to levy a fine against assault, battery, and robbery convicts, that would go to a dedicated fund to support safe ride services.

  • Let’s also be sure this doesn’t foray into victim blaming. How about inserting the “AND” into this conversation this way: Be aware of your surroundings, try to be in a group late at night while walking AND let’s educate young men about gender equity and masculinity while we can so that they don’t grow up to be fucking assholes who stay up until 3am waiting for an intoxicated person to walk by so they can assault them.

  • Oh and stop leaving big bags in your cars!
    I don’t think the problem is education on the part of the would be muggers or assaulters. If muggers inserted more gender equality expect women to be kicked and punched, and not just pushed. Look at the reports of muggings and notice the diff btn male and female victims.

  • Warning: there are bad people in the city. Be careful.


  • How about we all just look out for each other? If you see someone wobbly and messed up on the street – do something. Walk along, give them a ride, get them a cab. For that you may have to look for the person’s I.D./address and maybe even pay the driver yourself – really not a big deal. We don’t really need organizations for this – just humanity and common sense.

    • YES. we can all step up and help out folks who obviously need it. and likewise if you see someone looking like they’re looking for messed up folks to rob. and like anon 2:27 said, let’s try to raise our kids to not be assholes who prey on folks. let’s also all try to not get so messed up that we can’t get ourselves into a cab and state our address. being incredibly drunk doesn’t excuse the person who attacks you, but the fact that there are predators out there doesn’t excuse reckless drinking.

  • Mari,
    If I had to choose between being kicked and punched and having my wallet taken, or being raped and keeping my wallet I would definitely choose the first option. And gender equity and masculinity ARE problems for people who mug and assault people. Male or female.

  • Thanks to everyone who wrote in and commented on this; I am the woman who was assaulted. Just to mention a few things: I was walking home by myself, but I was not drunk. If I seemed so, it is because I was really shaken up. After having been taken to the emergency room, it was determined that I had a concussion; I have several staples in my head, and my right eye is completely swollen shut. I was walking home from the Raven, and though I was by myself, I walk through that alley EVERY day. It’s just the kind of thing where you never feel unsafe until the moment you are. Everybody be careful. If anyone from the surrounding apartments who came out that night is reading this, I cannot thank you enough for your care and responsiveness.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Oh my God, that is awful. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you, I’d be happy to do your grocery shopping or other errands that you can’t get to if you’d like (just email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail). Also we have very talented cooks and bakers here so if you have any treats that’d you like please let me know.

      I’m very very sorry to hear this happened.

  • I’m so sorry Molly. It’s very scary I know. I’m glad that you are doing relatively well – stay strong.

  • Perhaps the original post should be updated with an editor’s note to reflect that Molly was not, in fact, intoxicated?

  • One doesn’t have to ever give an exact address to a cabbie. Use intersections or approximations, i.e. 1800 Block of Monroe St., then tell the cabbie to stop a couple addresses away from your destination. Been doing this for years, especially at night when fewer cab drivers are legally driving.

  • DON’T GET IN A CAB! I had a cab driver sexually assault me (I was not intoxicated either), and I’ve heard horror stories from other women as well. You might as well hitchhike if you’re going to do that.

    It’s unfortunate that there are no safe options for getting home late at night, aside from driving (but if you’ve been drinking you have to rule that out as well).

    • Getting into a cab is one of the stupidest things you could do. Keep in mind, many of DC’s cab drivers come from mysogenstic cultures where it is commonly believed that a women who is “shameful” enough to be out at night alone deserves to have horrible things happen to her.

  • DON”T use ALLEYs at night. It’s dark and no one is around to see what’s happening or help you.. It’s the perfect place to attack someone. Stay in the light and be aware of ALL the people around you. We live in our own bubble far too often and we put ourselves at risk when were not aware of our surroundings.

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