More and more young women are currently reporting on TikTok that they were suddenly hit in the face by a strange man in New York. Some victims recognize a pattern: They were attacked when they looked at their smartphone – and were therefore completely taken by surprise by the attack.

This also applies to TikTok user Halley Kate, who posted her first video on TikTok on March 26th shortly after the crime. In it she says with tears in her eyes: “Guys, I was just walking and a man came up to me and hit me in the face. Oh my God, that hurts so much. I can’t even speak.”

Shortly afterwards, she contacted her followers again – with a visible bump on her forehead. In the second video she explains that she had just written an email when the man who was coming towards her suddenly rammed into her. She could no longer say whether he hit her with his fist or his elbow because she was briefly unconscious. When she got up again, the man yelled at her. She ran away out of fear.

The response to Halley Kate’s video has been great; to date it has been viewed around 46.2 million times (as of March 28, 2024). And more and more women are coming forward to report similar incidents in New York. According to TikTok user Mikayla, the same thing happened. She was hit in the face on the way home while she was looking at her smartphone. She went home in shock and only then realized that she was not an isolated case. She documents the traces of the attack in another video: She shows herself with a visibly black eye and also has a slightly broken tooth. A medical examination also revealed a concussion caused by the hard blow.

Some of those affected have already filed a complaint. Local police told NBC News they are already investigating other cases of this type. It is still unclear whether there is a connection between the attacks and who the suspected perpetrators are. The TikTok users suspect that it is a group of men because the alleged perpetrator was described similarly by some women, but differently by others. In the case of TikTok user Halley Kate, a suspect is currently in police custody, according to NBC News.

A possible motive for the attacks is also still unclear. Under the video of affected person Olivia Brand, a user commented that her sister had been living in New York for ten years and that the punches were an “inauguration season” that always took place in March and October. The TikToker with the username QueChiqui has a different theory: In her opinion, the punches in the face are the “knockout game.” A dangerous trend that already made headlines in the USA in 2013. Back then, teenagers suddenly attacked other people. The aim of the “Knockout Game” was to knock others out with one punch. Some of the perpetrators were only 13 years old at the time. At least two victims did not survive the attacks.

The current incidents are causing fear and uncertainty among young women in New York. They warn each other on social media and give tips on how to protect themselves. It is recommended not to look at your smartphone or wear headphones when you are out and about, but rather to be aware of your surroundings. More and more women are now carrying Tasers and pepper spray so they can defend themselves. In her video, user “QueChiqui” explains how shocking it is that women now have to be afraid even during the day: “It sucks because you just want to feel safe. You want to walk around on the street and just feel good about it feel, but the truth is: people are terribly evil.”

Sources:TikTok 1, TikTok 2, NBC News1, NBC News 2