Nova Scotia

Taxi assault survivor comes to the defence of all-female cab service

A Halifax woman who says she was raped by a taxi driver is publicly sharing her experience for the first time after a CBC News report showed male limousine drivers sounding off at women about their newly-formed airport service.

Lindsay Dauphinee says she wanted to 'put a face to a woman who doesn't feel safe' in taxis

Lindsay Dauphinee is sharing her story to help support an all-female cab service. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

A Halifax woman who says she was assaulted by a taxi driver is speaking out after male drivers complained that an all-female cab company is discriminatory and portrays all male drivers as unsafe.

Lindsay Dauphinee, 27, said she was relieved to learn about the newly-formed airport service, Lady Drive-Her. She decided to publicly share her experience as a sexual assault victim for the first time to ''put a face to a woman who doesn't feel safe."

"Maybe make it more personal, and make some people understand why things like the all-female cab company are happening because it will help a lot of people," she said.

'It's not about you'

Dauphinee​ said she was offended by the male drivers who seemed to misunderstand why some women would prefer a female cabbie.

"If you're going to be angry, I think that's great, but the anger needs to go towards fixing the problem," said Dauphinee, who said she was glad to hear about a new option for customers.

"It's not saying that every cab driver is, you know, abusive or every cab driver is the issue," she said. "It's not about you, I think it's a bigger issue."

Limo driver Lucien Jebailey told limo driver Teresa Wannamaker that Lady Drive-Her "might be sending the wrong message." (Steve Berry/CBC)

Her story

In September 2013, Dauphinee was at a house party where she said her drink was drugged. She and her friends headed to a bar on Gottingen Street but a friend hailed a cab to take Dauphinee home because of her odd behaviour and concern for her safety.

Dauphinee said she remembered virtually nothing about the cab ride, but when she woke up the next morning at home, she bore the hallmarks of an assault.

Her clothes and tights were torn, her body was bruised and sore, and she had a feeling that something horrible happened.

"I was raped in a cab by a cab driver, and so I've had a lot of issues," said Dauphinee, adding that therapy is helping her remember some detail from that night.

After a few days, she went to a walk-in clinic where a doctor told her it was too late to get a rape test because she had showered.

Dauphinee said she didn't report the attack to police because her memory wasn't clear, and she didn't trust police to believe her and pursue the case.

Intensive therapy

But the trauma from the attack is still there. For the last year and a half she's been seeing a therapist regularly.

She also needed counselling after a Halifax cabbie was acquitted earlier this year of sexually assaulting an incapacitated female passenger. The case made national headlines and was in the news for weeks.

"That had a profound impact on me because it was so similar to what had happened to me," she said. "It was a very rough few months for me."

Taxis are "pretty scary, still," but she has started to step into cabs again — what she calls exposure therapy.

'Very vulgar' comment from driver

Conversations with her therapist, mental exercises and coping techniques have helped, but she's run into some traumatizing experiences. There was the time last year she got into a cab after work, and the driver asked about her job.

"When I said I was an assistant, he asked me some inappropriate questions, you know, if I ever 'serviced' my bosses, and just got very vulgar so I got out of the cab before I was home," she said, adding she left without paying.​

"No one should be asked those questions in a small confined space."

'So relieved to see a female cab driver'

Crissy McDow and some of her Lady Drive-Her team. (Steve Berry/CBC)

It hasn't been all negative. A few months ago, Dauphinee hopped into a taxi and was "so relieved to see a female cab driver" that she started crying.

She praised the woman for working in a male-dominated industry. The driver "was very flattered and she said it's pretty hard to be a female cab driver," Dauphinee said.

Compassion and understanding

She hopes sharing her personal story brings people together to improve taxi safety.

"People can see my face and hear what has happened to me and how hard, you know, things have been trying to move on from that," said Dauphinee.

"Maybe there's a little bit more compassion and understanding when they read or hear about things like all-female cab companies or people taking the necessary steps to feel safe and comfortable."

About the Author

Elizabeth Chiu is a reporter in Nova Scotia and hosts Atlantic Tonight on Saturdays at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. in Newfoundland. If you have a story idea for her, contact her at elizabeth.chiu@cbc.ca.