Alison Turkos
Sep 17 · 4 min read

In the fall of 2017, I got into a Lyft after a night out with friends. All I wanted to do was get home safely and go to bed. This was supposed to be the safer option than walking home or taking the subway late at night alone. What should have been a 15-minute drive, turned into an 80-minute living nightmare.

My Lyft driver kidnapped me at gunpoint, drove me across state lines, and, along with at least two other men, gang raped me.

Within 24 hours, I reported my kidnapping to Lyft. Lyft “apologized for the inconvenience that I’d been through” and informed me they appreciated the voice of their customers and were committed to doing their best in giving me the support that I needed”. However, to my utter shock, Lyft informed me that I would still be expected to pay for the original estimated cost of my ride and I would be “unpaired” from the driver in the future — I’d later learn he remained a Lyft driver.

Lyft tells its customers that safety is their number one priority and one of the key values the company was founded on, but my trauma proves otherwise. Lyft callously forced me to pay $12.81 for my kidnapping and rape and has allowed a predator to continue driving for not months, but years — proving once again they value profits over customer safety.

Two days after my assault, I made the difficult decision to report my rape to the police. I thought I was taking a step towards ending my trauma. I had no idea that in reporting my rape, I was simply beginning another painful chapter of that trauma.

After being attacked, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and struggle with severe trust issues. Lyft’s failure to remove the driver from the app, and allow him to continue driving under a new name and profile has not only exacerbated my PTSD and inability to feel safe, but has also placed other passengers lives at risk. How many other passengers has this man harmed while on Lyft’s payroll in the two years since I reported?

Lyft has continuously ignored and dismissed the stories of victims like me. It has become clear that this company has never been interested in believing or supporting victims. I know now that nothing will change unless I change it myself.

By necessity, I have had to become my own advocate to hold systems like Lyft accountable to me and survivors like me. I have told my deeply painful story, over and over again, to the press, at rallies, and on social media. I have put my face, my name, and my reputation on the line in an effort to be taken seriously — to be heard and believed — by Lyft.

I know I’m not alone. It should never be on the back of victims to fight to be believed and supported by a company that purports to put the safety of its customers first. Our job is not to fix Lyft; our job is to heal.

But Lyft makes this impossible.Even now, two years after my assault, I’m still unable to even start the job of healing, because Lyft continues to place profits over the safety of its passengers. Every day brings another headline, another story, another assault.

I did what society always says I am “supposed” to do: I reported to police, I reported to the trust and safety team at Lyft. I continue to relive my trauma, share my pain, do whatever it will take to get them to help me. And yet, after all that, they couldn’t even be bothered to answer a simple email. They ignored, belittled, dismissed me. Lyft’s failure to properly investigate the failues of their system that lead to my kidnapping and rape has severely hampered the ongoing criminal investigation. Lyft’s feeble public response to viral tweets and other lawsuits has made a mockery of me and the other victims who have come forward. We don’t want partial refunds. We don’t want $5 credits to continue using your service. And I don’t want your customer service’s attempts to gaslight me into believing the attack never happened, as if maybe I was confused or wrong about being kidnapped or raped repeatedly.

So to Lyft executives, I say: what happened to me is real. And if it’s so difficult to hear my story, just imagine what it’s been like to live through. I deserve better. Survivors deserve better. Lyft passengers deserve better. And I will not stop fighting until we get what we deserve.

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