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'I got in what I thought was my Uber. Then, the driver locked the doors and wouldn't let me leave.'

This post deals with sexual assault and might be triggering for some readers.

In October 2018, I was sexually assaulted and locked in what I thought was my Uber.

I was trying to leave a bar in the early hours of a Sunday morning, and after several failed attempts at catching a taxi (because the journey wasn’t long enough), and a failed attempt at ordering an Uber, I ordered another Uber. The app alerted me to say that the driver was about to arrive.

Feeling tired and ready to get home, I was relieved when a car pulled up and the man inside said “Uber?”, to which I regrettably responded with “Uber for…” followed by my name. We were one minute into the four-minute journey home when I received a phone call from my actual Uber driver asking where I was.

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I turned to the man in the car to let him know that I was in the wrong vehicle. He assured me, said not to worry, and that I would get home safe. I stayed on the phone with the actual Uber driver another minute, unsure of what to do, then decided to hang up and keep going as we were only a few blocks from home.

Then the situation drastically shifted. “I’m coming home with you, you invited me…” the driver said. To which I repeatedly said, “No, I don’t know you. You must be confused, I think you have the wrong person… I have a boyfriend and I love him very much” to which he laughed and said, “Oh no, you’re confused, you have drunk too much. I’m coming home with you. You want me.”

I continued to argue that I had never met him and that I absolutely did not want him to come to my house. He continued to argue that I thought he was attractive. Once we pulled up outside my home, I thought I had managed to make him realise that this was some kind of mistake, but when I went to get out of the car, he did, too.

I shut the door and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. It was when I gestured towards the house when referring to my love for my boyfriend, that he said “he’s in there?!” and started to move the car again, locking the doors.

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I got angry, threatened to call the police, and argued my way out of being taken down a dark street next to train tracks via all sorts of threats.

I think he grew tired of me yelling, and trying to convince me that I was “just confused”, and pulled the car over.

He asked me for my phone to enter his number in. I ended up giving it to him as a trade-off to unlock the doors.

The doors unlocked but before I could get out he lunged towards me, pinning me to the seat and stuck his tongue in my mouth. He grabbed at me. I was unable to push him away so reached for the door and slid sideways out of the car.

He drove off. I walked a couple of blocks home and bawled my eyes out as soon as I unlocked the door to my home. I was unable to comprehend the severity of what had occurred for several days. My initial instinct was to blame myself.

Not having memory of a license plate, a (female) police officer essentially told me there was nothing they could do, and to call back if I happened to remember it at a later stage.

Being scared about the fact this guy also knew where I lived, my anxiety was amplified.

I felt guilty. I felt like I had somehow put myself in that situation. I shuddered to think about the times where I’ve fallen asleep on the journey home from a night out. I worried about him coming back to my house. I felt I’d let myself down.

Initially, I put off persisting with police because I was too confused and overwhelmed with nervous emotion, but also because of their disinterest in the first place.

I summoned up the energy to chat to police five weeks later. I made a statement, but unfortunately, CCTV of me getting into the car was wiped by that stage, therefore, there was a lack of evidence. I was able to give his phone number over though, and it turned out he was known to police.

They arrested him in July 2019. It took 10 months. 10 months where he was potentially out there in his car waiting for someone else. 10 months of me locking doors, scoping cars in our streets with a thumping heart.

The charge didn’t progress very far due to the lack of evidence, which I largely put down to the police being so inactive in the first place. All I can do is hope that the arrest gave the guy a scare.

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This experience has made me realise how far we have to go, in society, in shifting the cause of such events from the victim to the perpetrator. It has been eye-opening, at the very least. Not only did I blame myself, but my decisions that night have regularly been pointed out to me by others, as if I hadn’t gone over them myself, a million times already.

Look to any article on social media about an assault, and you’ll see the comment section is littered with people saying what the victim should have done differently.

I hate the fact that women feel like they have to censor experiences like this to avoid offending anyone, or to avoid being judged. So, f*ck it, I’m sharing my story. We need to feel offended.

I try to avoid taxis as I’ve been aggressively hit on in the past. I also think taxis provide a shitty service. A service that isn’t willing to take a woman home safely at night, because there isn’t enough money in it for them, or the journey isn’t long enough, is broken.

I don’t walk at night because I was grabbed at up my skirt and pulled down to the ground by a passerby 10 years ago.

I had ordered an Uber that night to get home safely…

The trip should have only taken four minutes but took 25.

Yes, I wish I checked the number plate.

Yes, I wish I waited to hear the driver say my name.

Yes, I regret sitting in the front seat.

No, it was not my fault.

Making these kinds of decisions in the moment doesn’t mean that women deserve to be assaulted. Before you comment on events like this or form your internal opinion, think about what it is actually achieving.

Less focus on my actions, or the actions of others that have been through a similar experience. More focus on the guys out there looking for opportunities to force themselves on women.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image is a stock photo from Getty. 

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