Anonymous Story: The Safest Way Home

Anonymous Story: The Safest Way Home

It is March 2nd 2017 and today the news is filled with the story of an intoxicated and unconscious woman who was raped by a cab driver in Halifax, Canada. The rape was witnessed by a police officer. Yet the Judge still acquitted the rapist. I am angry every time I hear of cases where rapists get away and victim blaming is rampant. This one, however, hit home. The situation is so much like mine.

Four years ago, in Ottawa, Canada: I was 21 years old and invincible. I had just completed my undergraduate degree and it was time to party. I had a little too much fun and drank a lot too much. So my boyfriend did the right thing: got me a cab so I could get home safely. My memory is fuzzy. I know the cab driver witnessed me being belligerently drunk. I know I got in, profusely apologized for my situation and told him how to get to my house. He started to drive. I remember noticing that he was driving in the wrong direction and thinking he was trying to take advantage of the fact that I was drunk and earn some extra cash. I remember trying to be nice about t it and telling him about a landmark near my house in case there was another street with the same name as mine. Then he responded by telling me something that still chills me:

“I’m not going to take you home”

Still wanting to believe the best in people I thought, maybe he’s taking me to the hospital because I was so drunk. But he seemed annoyed with me, so maybe it wasn’t the hospital, maybe it was the police station. Then I get fuzzy. I remember begging with him and crying “please I just want to go home,” apologizing for being drunk, offering to pay him extra money to just let me out at an ATM and I’d figure out another way home. I remember him driving around in circles and laughing this time saying: “Nope. I’m not taking you home.” I remember him stopping somewhere in a dark and empty residential area. Then it all goes black: maybe I was traumatized, maybe I passed out, maybe I just blacked out. Then the next thing I remember was him saying in an exasperated way “now you can go.” I blacked out again. Next thing I remember I was in the cab alone, my clothes not how I had left them, and sore in some troubling places.

The car door was unlocked, so I got out and I ran. I didn’t think to take note of the name of the driver or even if it was a licensed cab. I got on the first bus I saw and took it all across town where he couldn’t get to me. My cell phone battery was dead, so I walked. Every bridge I passed, I considered just throwing myself over so I wouldn’t have to face what happened. I walked, and walked, and walked for hours along the Ottawa river towards parliament, the one familiar landmark I could see where I knew a bus could take me home.

At the bus stop I was crying. I had no idea what time it was, so I threw my phone against the ground. Then a cop drove by and noticed my agitated state. He asked me if I was ok and I said “what time is it?” He let me know, and he assured me I was in the right place for the bus and drove on. 10 minutes later he looped around again and I was about to stop him to report what happened, but then I saw the bus coming and my exhaustion and my desire to get home took over.

I didn’t call the police the next day. I was leaving town and it was the only thing that made sense. I told my roommates some of what happened and they urged me to pursue it but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t remember the details close to how I remember them now. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere: I couldn’t even remember the cab company. It wasn’t rational, but it was all I could do that day: forget it. Lie to people and say I jumped out of the car before anything bad happened- that way I wouldn’t have to face what really happened.

So I went on with life. I had my vacation and went home to my family. I was fine except for the fact that I couldn’t sleep. I had sex with my boyfriend several times before it sunk in that I could be contaminated. Wracked with guilt, I secretly went to a walk in clinic to check for STDs. Everything was clear. I am an optimistic person, so I started to hope. Maybe he didn’t even sexually assault me. Maybe he just wanted to get home and just left me there. I willingly forgot him forcing an aggressive kiss on me before I blacked out because it didn’t fit with the story I wanted it to be,

Of course, I was angry with myself for being so drunk. It was irresponsible, I admit to that. When I told my parents they agreed: I was irresponsible. I don’t blame them because I didn’t tell them the whole story. I told them the one where I jumped out of the moving car and escaped scared but unscathed.

This story worked for awhile (minus the sleep deprivation). Over the next few years the reality ate at me triggering a wide array of health problems.

The memories slowly crept back into my brain. I am a book person, so I read all the books I could on memory and memory recovery. One told me that when in an altered state like drunkenness the memories that are fuzzy in sober life show themselves when reentering the same state. I experienced this first hand when memories started pouring back after my fifth drink. My reactions ranged from sadness to psychosis. It strained my relationship and my friendships. I stopped going out. I haven’t taken a cab alone since. Every time I am walking somewhere unfamiliar I am transported back to that night trekking in terror across Ottawa.

In 2015 I googled “Ottawa taxi driver sexual assault” and found that two taxi drivers had been charged with sexual assault just three months after my incident, one of them fitting the physical description of my attacker, the age and circumstances of the victim, and of the way it happened. I felt guilty again. Maybe because I didn’t pursue he attacked someone else. Both these men lost their taxi licences but were not convicted. The one most like my attacker was initially convicted but then due to some innapropriate comments by the judge, his case was overturned.

Now that I am facing what happened in a healthier way, my life is moving forward and I can share this story. I will never be the same, but I can function and I have learned how to be happy. On days like today, I am angry that someone in Halifax who was in such a similar situation has done what I couldn’t face doing and her rapist still got away. Two years ago I would have curled up in a ball and cried for this girl. Today I am angry and I want to fight this broken system.

Author

WYR

WYR

When You're Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

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