A writer who live tweeted her experience of being groped on a plane has shed light on how difficult it can be for women to report sexual abuse, particularly if the abuse happens during a flight.
Taking to Twitter to record both the sexual assault and the following reaction from the authorities, Ariana Lenarsky, from Los Angeles, first described how a man on her flight from Austin, Texas, had "grabbed and stroked" her leg as she walked past him on the aircraft.
Lenarsky took a photo of the man, which she initially did not share on social media, and told the air hostesses about the incident.
I just told the flight attendants, and they both nodded. They already knew who it was, because other women already complained. Lol.— Ariana Lenarsky (@aardvarsk) October 23, 2016
Understandably dissatisfied with the response from the air hostesses, Lenarsky then asked what they planned to do about the incident.
I am now going to ask the flight attendants what they plan to do when we land.— Ariana Lenarsky (@aardvarsk) October 23, 2016
They told the captain and are filing a report with the airline. Local authorities will meet the plane when we land.— Ariana Lenarsky (@aardvarsk) October 23, 2016
Police took him off the plane. I'm still here & they're taking my & another woman's report. The legal term for how he grabbed me is battery.— Ariana Lenarsky (@aardvarsk) October 23, 2016
While the response from the airline seemed satisfactory, the real problems came after Lenarsky tried to press charges against the man.
The FBI became involved with the case because the incident occurred "in the sky", and they informed Lenarsky that she would need to pay for a flight back to Austin in order to file a report on the abuse.
Incredibly, when Lenarsky reached out to the police they informed her that they would ensure they gave the man "a talking to" but that "it's not the crime of the century".
If I want to press charges, I'd have to fly back to Austin on my dime, since it's Austin PD's jurisdiction. I don't want to do that.— Ariana Lenarsky (@aardvarsk) October 23, 2016
Police said they would "give him a talking to"& "it's not the crime of the century." True! I'm going to tweet his picture now since it's nbd— Ariana Lenarsky (@aardvarsk) October 23, 2016
Sadly, it took Lenarsky's experience to highlight how difficult it can be for a woman to report sexual abuse.
"I believe I have inadvertently illuminated that the process of reporting assault is broken," she wrote on Twitter.
"No one — from twitter all the way up to the FBI — has a clear, just, and efficient protocol for how to handle sexual assault and battery."