Nasrin Amin did not know Martin Place gunman Man Haron Monis but during December's deadly siege the Melbourne IT worker said she felt his actions personally.
"I was returning from work on the train — a lady started pushing me with her bag and she started yelling at me and telling me to go back to the Middle East. I didn't come from the Middle East," the petite and softly spoken mother of three said.
Ms Amin is originally from Bangladesh, but has been in Australia since 1991.
She was attacked twice around that time and admitted she was "shaken inside" and lived in fear.
She would sit next to the emergency button on the train just in case she was attacked again.
"Racism hurts", she told a 200-strong crowd at a forum on Islamophobia in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg on Sunday.
Ms Amin wears a black veil that covers half of her face. She organised the awareness forum in part because of her personal experience, and because of the stories she heard of other Muslim women who have been attacked.
Incidents included having their scarves pulled off them, and in one case, a woman had coffee thrown on her.
"From a victim's point of view, Islamophobia is racism," Ms Amin said.
"People can say Islam is not a race ... but from a victim's point of view this kind of abuse ... affects our lives, how we go on with our daily lives."
Melbourne's Muslim community is increasingly concerned about anti-Islamic sentiment.