Honestly, I’m nervous to write this story about how I was almost abducted. I’ve never shared it this full of detail on the internet before, and only a handful of people know it all.
But I recently watched a video about human trafficking (don’t even ask how I got into that, lol) and it got me thinking about this experience of mine.
I don’t think that it was a situation related to human trafficking, but the scariness of it was still very prevalent. Every time I hear about other people in those almost-situations (AND the times it actually happens, not just an *almost*) my mind goes back to this experience.
I believe that, at least for the most part, I’ve healed myself from the damage of this experience. But it’s still taken me over two years to have the courage to share it so publicly.
But it’s my hope that if someone else reads this, it either a) gives them awareness of this kind of thing, b) helps them recover from their own stories or c) reminds them that they’re not alone.
No matter what, I think it’s time to finally share my story. At the very least, it could remind people that we do not currently live in a world that is safe from scary things.
It’s my mission with this business to change that, but for right now, it’s the reality. I think if I could do *anything* to help others be prepared for things like this, then it’s my responsibility to do so.
So here goes: the story of how I was almost abducted.
Where It Started
In August of 2017, I was about to start my sophomore year in college at Ohio State. I was still living in Pennsylvania, though.
In April previously, my newly-found best friend (lol hey girl, our friendship is so weird) and I bought concert tickets to see Pentatonix in August before school started. I had been dying to see them for like, 3 years, so I was pretty freaking pumped.
The concert was in Columbus, and at the time, I didn’t have a vehicle to get there. It’s a 5 hour drive from where I lived in Pennsylvania! But I was not about to let that stop me from seeing one of my top favorite groups of all time.
So I bought Greyhound tickets. I was super nervous about going to Columbus that way. I’ve always been a cautious person, and I know that some scary things happen on a bus system like that. But I also have anxiety, so my caution pretty quickly turned into paranoia and being terrified.
All of my friends had been telling me that nothing bad would happen and I was overreacting. I tried my damned hardest to believe them, because…duh, Pentatonix. So I faced my fear.
The bus ride to Columbus was fine. I didn’t have fun, of course, but nothing bad happened.
My best friend and I had a great time together. We saw Pentatonix (no matter what else happened during the trip, that is an experience I will never forget), went to the State Fair, shopped, watched movies…just good times.
I loved it. It honestly pushed a lot of the fear I had about the Greyhound away. I had already done the trip once, and my time in Columbus was great! I felt like I didn’t have a whole lot to worry about.
The Bus Ride to Pittsburgh
I had two bus rides. One from Columbus to Pittsburgh, and another from Pittsburgh to home.
My bus in Columbus was leaving for Pittsburgh at something like 4am. Ridiculous, I know. But alas, such is life.
My best friend and I had stayed up pretty late the night before, and I think I got *maybe* 1 or 2 hours of sleep before we had to leave for the bus station.
I wasn’t honestly planning on sleeping on the bus because, again, I’m a cautious person. I wanted to be aware of my surroundings the entire time. I’ve had a long history of not sleeping enough, so I knew I could function on just 2 hours of sleep if I needed to.
The time came, I got on the bus, and set out to Pittsburgh at 4 in the morning.
I still don’t remember who I sat next to. I had an aisle seat; they the window seat. Across the aisle, there was an older man who was sitting by himself. He seemed fairly normal to me.
At one point on the bus ride, I was looking around and made eye contact with him. I did the natural, polite thing, and simply smiled. Then I looked away.
Something inside of myself just felt off after that, though. Something about that man just felt…weird.
I could feel his eyes on me. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell that he just stared at me…and stared at me. For minutes at a time. I felt exposed.
Then he started saying, “Miss” to me over and over again. Trying to get my attention. I part of me thought that he could have genuinely just had something like dementia or another mental illness, so maybe he just thought I was someone else.
I turned to him to see what he wanted. I don’t remember all the details of this, but I do remember that at one point, he asked me to hold his hand.
Like a freaking idiot, I did. I think I was just trying to be kind in case his intentions *were* good, but looking back, it was a stupid thing to do. It is what it is, though.
I still don’t remember what he said to me during that time. I quickly took my hand away and tried to ignore him.
He continued to say, “Miss, ” but he was saying it like every 5 seconds. I turned to him. I didn’t smile, I didn’t say anything. I just looked at him.
Then he asked, “Do you love me?”
I knew right then that something was wrong. I was creeped out, I didn’t know anyone on the bus, and I didn’t even know if anyone else was aware of the situation.
I blatantly ignored him from then on. I thought that, maybe, if I ignored him enough he would leave me alone.
A little bit later, I saw out of the corner of my eye that he had his hand down his pants while staring at me. You can imagine what he was doing.
It was a few minutes after that that I got a tap on my shoulder from a young man sitting behind me. I looked and he handed me his phone. He had typed out a message that said something like, “This doesn’t seem like a safe situation. I think you should move to the front and get away from this guy.”
I typed back, “I know, I don’t have a good feeling either. Thank you. I will.”
I then heard another guy sitting behind the older man just blatantly say to him, “Hey, you’re creeping that nice girl out, maybe just cut it out.” I have no idea if this older guy even said anything.
I moved to the front. I started to feel safer. I was still on edge, of course, but the guy didn’t follow me and I couldn’t feel his eyes on me anymore.
Then we got into Pittsburgh.
What Happened in Pittsburgh
We pulled into the bus station, and all I wanted to do was get my duffel bag from under the bus and get on the next one. I wanted the whole experience to be over.
I stood up to get off the bus. I saw that the guy who wrote me a message on his phone moved forward so he could get off the bus right behind me. I was so comforted by having him there.
He and I got off the bus and got our bags. I was still on edge, but I thought I was safe. Then the nice guy that had said something to the older man on the bus came off with his friend and told me that I was being stared at through the bus window.
That was the exact moment that I started panicking. I almost started sobbing. I was terrified. I had no idea what to do…I was in a city I didn’t know, with no one I knew around me, with an older man that wouldn’t leave me alone in the creepiest way possible.
The guy with the cell phone and I (I know there a lot of guys in this story…I apologize if it’s getting confusing) went into the station. The older man followed us.
The one I went inside with offered me his arm, and told me to not let go. So I took it.
The older man somehow found his way to us, and suddenly he had a hold of my other arm saying, “She needs to come with me.” I have no clue how this all happened – it’s honestly such a blur. All I knew was that he had a pretty strong grip for an older guy.
Now here’s where I interrupt the story.
I typically have an idea of what to do in that kind of a situation. I know how to throw a punch (thank you, growing up with brothers), I had a duffel bag bigger than me hanging off my shoulder that I could have swung, I had pepper spray in my purse, and I have a voice I could have used to scream as loud as I could.
But the panic running through me made me forget ALL of that. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion, but at the same time not slow enough for me to remember any of my basic self-defense.
When this older man grabbed me, I tried to just spin around and, while still maintaining my grip on the nice guy’s arm, move fast enough to get him off me.
From that specific moment, the thing that still haunts me the most actually has nothing to do with the older guy trying to pull me away. What haunts me the most is looking up at a bus station filled with people, who all stared at me, and did nothing.
You know those scenes in movies where the camera moves around the person as they’re staring at a scene around them? That’s what that exact moment looked like for me. I was looking around at all these people, mentally begging for help, only to see them staring right back at me as if I was just disturbing their mid-morning newspaper read.
No one from the crowd helped me. No one called 911. Nothing.
Again – the next few seconds are really a blur. Somehow I got him to let go of my arm and I was back outside with the nice guy that initially helped with that phone message. The older man didn’t follow us.
I tried to tell a staff member about what was happening so I could finally feel safe, and the only thing this woman said to me was, “We don’t have security here. If you don’t feel safe, you need to call 911.”
I remember so clearly that her face had absolutely no expression. She was emotionless. My fear, my being on the verge of tears had no effect on her. That is horrifying to think about to this day.
I didn’t call 911 because I had the weird mindset of, “I don’t know if this warrants a call to the police.” (I think another one of those things where my brain just broke for a few minutes during this whole thing.)
Afterward and the Next Bus
After that, the guy who helped me inside of the station had to get on his next bus. We were going in two different directions. I didn’t want to be alone, but I completely understood.
The other guy and his friend (who had told me I was being stared at through the bus window) actually came up to me and told me they would stay with me. Their bus didn’t leave until after mine did.
I have no clue what they had been doing in those minutes while I was inside, but they told me that they saw the older guy run out of the bus station after I went back outside. I didn’t see him after that.
These two incredibly nice men stood right beside me in line with their stuff. They told me that they both had daughters, and would, of course, do the same thing for them. They even offered to buy me coffee.
I called my mom to let her know that I made it to Pittsburgh and was getting on the next bus soon. I forced myself to sound totally normal so she wouldn’t worry.
The two guys stuck right beside me literally until the moment I boarded the next bus. I never got their names, or the name of the first guy, and that’s the only thing I regret about all of it. I’ve never been able to thank them. It’s my hope that they know how much I appreciate their protection.
I truly believe that something much, much worse could have happened to me without the 3 of them.
When I got on the second bus, I *casually* texted my boyfriend, Alex, what happened. I don’t think that, even though it had happened just previously, I had quite registered the depth of the situation.
There wasn’t hardly anyone on the second bus, and that was a major comfort to me. I wasn’t feeling 100% safe, by any means, but safER.
I stayed awake the entire bus ride. I think by the time I got home, I had been awake for something like 28 hours. Not the longest I’ve ever been awake, lol, but still pretty long.
Once I Got Home
I remember the bus pulling up to my stop, and I felt this massive wave of relief seeing my mom’s car. I’ve always been a momma’s girl, and all I wanted was to see her. I gave her a hug, and then I said, “Mom I have to tell you something.”
She jokingly said, “What, do we need to call the police?” (I know she didn’t mean that maliciously, of course.) I said, “I don’t know, maybe.” And then I told her everything. I sat in the car and sobbed. All the fear and tears that I held inside of myself in Pittsburgh came flooding out of me.
She hugged me, told me I was safe, and then bought me McDonald’s, haha. (I can’t deny that I have a big love of McDonald’s. Yes, I know it’s incredibly unhealthy and gross, but it’s my go-to comfort food, lol.)
I remember going into the restaurant, and seeing an older man there. I immediately hid behind my mom like a 5-year-old, instead of a grown adult woman.
We went home, and my mom called the police. I honestly don’t remember what they did, but it definitely wasn’t much. I was never called back for them to ask questions and/or get more information.
I spent the rest of the day with Alex. We ended up going over to a friend’s apartment and I went because it was a mental distraction. I fell asleep on his couch right around the 34 or 36 hour mark of being awake.
That was kind of the end of it from then on. Nothing else happened until I started my sophomore year.
The Long-Term Effects
I moved into school in late August (you have to live on campus for two years at Ohio State #lame) and my mom ended up mentioning to my hall director what had happened. Apparently, I was showing some traits of trauma that not even I was aware of.
From there, I started noticing some things. Ohio State is a very busy, bustling campus. I’m from a small, tiny little country town. Two very different worlds.
When I started school, I had a constant fear from all the cars driving by that someone was going to jump out and abduct me. Seeing older guys on campus distracted me from what I was doing at the moment. I was on edge most of the time if I wasn’t safely in my dorm.
Eventually, I started going to therapy to talk about it. I’m grateful for the fact that I didn’t need a ton of therapy for *that* situation. I started to notice positive changes within a few sessions. I know it doesn’t go like that with everyone.
But overall, I don’t think I even *really* understood what happened to me until this year. It took a while for it to hit me that what really happened was that I was almost abducted.
Understanding that makes the weight I carry from it make more sense. For a while, I felt like I was overreacting to something that wasn’t “that bad.”
I now know that what happened to me WAS “that bad,” and all the feelings I have about it are completely valid. That’s allowed me to accept it a lot more, and find the strength to move on.
Now, I don’t struggle with the things I was struggling with. I obviously still remember the situation, but it doesn’t come up in my mind every 10 seconds. I go for long periods of time without thinking about it. I feel like I can definitely say I’ve moved on.
What I Hope To Do By Sharing This
I realize that not everyone will think that this story matters at all. I know that there are people out there that think what happened to me is nothing. I know that there are people who have been in much, much worse situations.
But I think it’s important to spread awareness. I’m cautious, and I still froze up. My fight or flight sense just broke and I didn’t do either. (At least that’s what it felt like.)
The more we can open ourselves up and talk about things like this, I’m hoping the more we can eliminate them from happening in the first place.
What happened to me was scary, and I don’t ever want it to happen to someone else. I still have no idea if the older man ran out of the bus station and did something worse to another young woman. That, honestly, haunts me more than anything else.
But by sharing my story now, I can maybe make an important impact. Maybe you’ve been through something similar. Maybe you’re looking for hope that things get better. Maybe you’re just reading and discovering how important it is to be aware and cautious.
I don’t know, but I’m hoping that you gain *something* from reading this.
I’m not asking for sympathy or anything. I just want to help someone else. And eventually, through all the work in my business, I’ll eventually be able to eliminate things like this from happening ever again, to anyone.
If you’ve read down this far – I appreciate you. Stay safe in the world, and practice kindness as much as you can so we don’t have to hear these kinds of stories ever again.
By the way – if you want more words to inspire, motivate, and inform you on all things kindness, empathy, and making a positive impact on the world, check this out.
Sending you lots of positive vibes!