A slew of young women in New York City are using TikTok to share emotional broadcasts about getting punched on the street by an unknown man — and the violent trend has sparked concern among young females over their safety in big cities.

Around 8 p.m. on March 19, 30-year-old Sarah Harvard reports she was walking alone to a comedy show when she was suddenly attacked by a man on the street.

“I was walking alone out of the Delancey/Essex St station where I got punched in the back of my skull from a random man on the street,” Harvard wrote in a string of tweets about her experience.

“I was walking, and out of nowhere, BAM! I almost fell over,” Harvard added. “The back of my skull throbbing in pain, brain feels rattled.”

Harvard did not have an isolated experience. After sharing her story on social media, a series of young women with nearly identical experiences posted videos about getting punched while walking home in seemingly safe circumstances. The slew of videos earned the name “PunchTok,” as many of the women’s stories have gone viral on social media — one woman’s story raked in more than 46 million views.

“You guys, I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” Halley Kate Mcgookin said in her TikTok clip, as she showed a large wound swelling on her forehead. “Oh my God, it hurts so bad, I can’t even talk. Literally, I fell to the ground, and now this giant goose egg is forming.”

Harvard claims she was aware of her surroundings when the unprovoked attack occurred.

“I was not on my phone. I was walking somewhere, and I got attacked from behind,” she told NBC News. “So it’s really violating that I didn’t see it coming and there was nothing I could’ve done, really, to prevent it from happening.”

She experienced nausea, dizziness, blurry vision and headaches for the remainder of the night, per NBC News.

The series of assaults comes in light of concerns crime is on the rise in the United States, per NBC News. Despite public perceptions that crime has escalated, FBI data shows violent crime in the U.S. actually decreased last year.

On Wednesday, the New York Police Department released a statement claiming to be “aware of a viral video circulating on social media depicting a woman who was randomly assaulted in an unprovoked attack.”

The statement continued: “The individual has been arrested and charged and is a criminal recidivist with an extensive criminal record.”

The man who allegedly attacked these women, Skiboky Stora, 40, was arrested on Wednesday. He has been charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment, per CBS News. Stora has a history of similar assaults and is being held on $10,000 bail, police told CBS News. He has only been connected to the assault of Mcgookin.

“This is real, and so we want to make sure that we called it out as such and warned women about this,” said Julie Menin, co-chair of the New York City Council’s women’s caucus, per CBS News. “It’s completely unacceptable. These women were literally walking down the street and randomly are getting punched in the face.”

Some of the women who report getting attacked advised other New Yorkers to increase awareness while walking around the city.

Mikayla Toninato said in a TikTok that she was walking home from class while looking at her phone when “out of nowhere” a random man came up and hit her in the face. She urged other women to stay off their phone and “be super aware of surrounding” when walking alone in the city.


@halley i quite literally feel your pain this was so insane

♬ original sound - mikayla

Jill Burke, who describes herself as “a tall girl” who looks like she “can hold her own,” was walking to work mid-morning when a man slammed a plastic bag filled with heavy objects at her face, hurling her to the ground, Burke reported in a TikTok.

“I could not have done anything to prevent this,” Burke said. “I was so aware of my surroundings. I was in one of the most densely populated areas of New York. There was 50-plus people around me and I couldn’t have done something if I tried.”

“Even though I don’t think there was anything I could do to prevent this from happening, I think it’s so important for women to always be prepared. I don’t think you can ever be too careful. ... You just need to be so aware of your surroundings.”