Reports of violence against women spike concerns about NYC safety

Tensions have risen in New York City over the past couple of weeks as several women have come forward sharing their experiences of being punched in the face at random on the streets. These videos have gone incredibly viral. For example, TikTok personality Halley Mcgookin’s video immediately following her attack reached nearly 50 million views. 

Since then, additional videos have been posted of women sharing similar experiences to Mcgookin’s. “I literally just got punched by some man on the sidewalk.’ He goes, ‘Sorry,’ and then punches me in the head,” user Olivia Brand shared on TikTok. User Mikayla Toninato said that her similar attack was completely “out of nowhere.” 

Several of the women who shared their stories were originally not planning to go public with their experience or file any police reports, but after seeing other women with similar experiences, they decided to speak up. 

These attacks are not isolated, and increasing numbers of these occurrences have been reported across the city. All of the reported incidents have been identical circumstances — mostly women in their 20s, randomly punched in the face by a man in the same general area. They have also reported that the man appears to say “Sorry” or “Excuse me” to the women before he punches them and promptly leaves the scene. Surveillance videos have caught these unprovoked attacks, resulting in injuries such as broken noses, concussions and other minor injuries being reported. 

Of the dozen reported cases, at least six arrests have been made, and investigations are actively ongoing. A man charged with perpetrating one of the attacks, Skiboky Stora, appeared in court last Wednesday for other prior arrests unrelated to the attacks. These attacks come at a time of general concerns for public safety in New York City. 

Governor Kathy Hochul has recently responded to increased crime rates in the subways by stationing National Guard members at the busiest subway stops in the city. Crime data has also shown jumps in misdemeanor rates across the city of 10.3% from last year and are up 15.7% over the past two years. 

Anxieties have spiked for women across the city. Those who have experienced the attacks, especially, are deeply impacted by the assaults. While the injuries sustained by the victims of the attacks have not been too severe, these attacks are still traumatizing to these women and alarming to others. 

Sarah Harvard discussed her experiences since her attack with NBC News. “What’s really unbearable is that general never-ending feeling now of feeling unsafe and feeling constantly alert, constantly looking over my shoulder,” she said. 

Chelsea resident Reina Rodriguez has also testified that this string of attacks has made her feel increasingly unsafe in the city, “‘It’s so difficult to live in New York City right now. Personally, I am afraid to be in the streets,” she said to NBC News.

As investigations into the men behind these acts of violence continue to unfold, the NYPD urges anyone with information regarding the suspects or the investigation to report it.


Featured photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon, Flickr