In November 2015, I arrived at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport. For the sake of cheap flight, I took a night flight from Yogyakarta to Denpasar. It’s almost dawn when I arrived there and there were not so many people at the time. I moved fast, walking to the taxi reservation table and reserved one for myself to head to Padangsambian, about a 15-minute drive from Denpasar.
I only had a big travel bag with me, so the driver said that we didn’t need to put it in the trunk. This meant I had to sit on the passengers’ seat next to the driver. Exhausted, starving and also sleepy, I didn’t give it a lot of thought and agreed to sit with him in the front. While we’re moving, I told him that we needed to pull over if he found an ATM machine, because I had to get some more money.
He started a conversation by asking why I was there at the time and I answered him tersely, trying to show that I was too exhausted to have a conversation. Then, all of the sudden, he reached over to touch my thigh and hand. I was so shocked that I pulled my hand right away. He became really angry and called me an arrogant woman.
He continued to talk, telling me he would take me to see Bali and saying that I didn’t need to worry about where to stay, as I could stay with him for free. My heart was beating so fast, my head was hurting, and my hands were as cold as ice. I tried to call my dad discreetly, but he didn’t answer the call. And that’s when we passed an ATM machine.
I asked him to pullover in as firm a voice as I could summon. Jumping out from the car, I went to the ATM machine and stayed there for about 10 minutes praying and thinking of ways to get out of the situation.
It was then that I remembered that we had just passed a 24-hour minimarket. So I returned to the car to get my stuff and lied to him that my friend would come and get me there. I also convinced him that I would fully pay him for the ride.
He was furious and began yelling at me. He took all my cash and threw my wallet at me. He left with some more harsh words for me. I was so embarrassed, hurt and afraid, though my tears wouldn't come out.
When I returned to Bali a couple of weeks ago, I was still traumatized . Gripped with fear, I made sure that I arrived in Bali during the day time. I made sure that there would be plenty of people on the road. That I didn’t sit in front with the driver. And that it would only be a short drive. I even reserved a hostel in the most crowded area.
No victim wants to get killed twice. I have learned the hard way.
What traumatized me most is not that some random guy has touched me and took my money, but that there’s a part of myself that is still thinking that it was my fault. There’s a part of myself that is wondering if I could go back in time and change things. If only I wasn’t taking a night flight. If only I wasn’t sitting in front. If only I weren’t a girl. All this would have never happened.
My Dad responded to my phone call in the morning. He asked me why I had called him so many times. I burst into to tears and told him everything. I heard him breathing on the phone, and then he asked, “Do you keep his vehicle number on you so we can track him down?”
I could tell that he was full of anger, but he managed to stay calm and gentle for my sake. I felt warm and loved again.
The thing people often don’t realize is that victims often stay silent not only because they are embarrassed or afraid, but because they don’t know how to tell their loved ones that they have been hurt.
Now I surround myself with people I love and I have forgiven myself for my mistake as well as the part of myself who put the blame on myself. To those who have a similar experience, I hope you find your way to feel loved and to accept yourself again.
Gabrella Seilatuw is a person who loved telling stories and listening to Dad’s jokes. She is currently rebuilding her dream to be a writer, and trying not to mess it up.