Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Cabbing Alone

A little under a month ago I saw this article in the Winnipeg Free Press:

The story is about a woman who shared her experience of being allegedly sexually assaulted by her cab driver this summer. Jennifer Joslin, who is the co-ordinator of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program helps woman who have been sexually assaulted by cab drivers. In the past two years there have been about 12 woman who have come to her with sexual assault cases against cab drivers.

So 12 woman have reported being sexually assaulted, but how many have just been harassed? Like me.

About a year and a half ago I was working when some friends and I from my workplace decided to have a night out after our shifts. Since I had the latest shift I decided to just meet up with them at Whiskey Dix nightclub. Since they were all at the bar already I decided to take a cab by myself from my home in River Park South to the bar on Main Street.

I was 19 and going to a club so I was wearing big heels and a little dress ready to have a good time. I've never been given any reason to not trust a cab driver so i got in the front seat, I think that was my mistake and I still regret it.

The driver was nice and friendly and I was being friendly and joking around with him at first as well. As we started to get out of my neighbourhood he asked me what my plans were for the night and I told him that I was just meeting up with some friends to dance and have a night out. Then he told me, "no you're not"

I asked what he meant.

He told me that I wasn't meeting up with my friends tonight.

Well why not?

He told me that I was going to his house tonight. He told me that there were other girls there that I could be with. He told me that it would be just as much fun as going to the bar with my friends.

Despite my sinking stomach I was still trying to keep the mood light so I laughed and said "No, no... my friends are expecting to see me, let's just go to the bar"

This is when things took a turn. To get to Whiskey Dix from my house it's literally one straight shot down St.Marys which turns into Main Street. The driver instead took me on a big loop of downtown heading west in the opposite direction of the bar.

He told me that the other girls were scared at first too, but now they love him. He continued to say that I wouldn't be seeing my friends that night and the more I argued with him the more told me to stop arguing because "I'm going to kidnap you"

It's hard to in a situation like that to decide what to do. It seems so clear when you think about it later or read it from someone elses perspective but it's a whole different game once you're there. I was scared and alone and in an area I was unfamiliar with. I was wearing big heels, no chance to run. So I kept my phone up to my ear and told him I was going to call someone. I had one hand on the door handle as we moved and I tried to stay confident and calm. I told him I was calling someone, and I think he started to get nervous. Cabs all have cameras and ID numbers. 911 calls are easily traceable. If I called anyone, even if he did take me somewhere he would be caught.

So he detoured and went to the bar where as soon as we slowed down I threw open the door and jumped out.

Some people have a sick sense of humour. Could it have been a joke to him? Even if it was, it is 100% inappropriate. I don't know if maybe my confidence at the time or my idea to threatened to make a phone call saved me, I don't even know if what he was saying was true but it's a night I still remember vividly.

I never reported this incident. I know I should have, but I didn't.
I often wonder how many other woman or men for that matter have had experiences similar to mine. NEVER get into a cab alone, especially in the front where you are easily accessable.

I am in NO way trying to say that all cab drivers are bad. 99% of the time cab rides go exactly as planned, the drivers are friendly, polite, and safe.
I also believe that cab drivers are probably often harassed by drunk or aggressive passengers as well. This is just one side of the issue.

But just as your parents warned when you were little, never go anywhere with a stranger, they might be a bad person and it could be too late by the time you figure that out.

Follow up article in the Winnipeg Free Press:


  1. It's not too late to make a formal complaint.
    You may be able to help prevent this happening to someone else.

  2. I agree with the above commenter. Reporting these issues are the only way to stop abuse towards women. It is our responsibility to stop it from happening. :) great blog.

  3. My stomach sank too, as I read your story. I agree with Duncan - if you remember which cab company it was and which date, they should be able to identify the driver from your address.