Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Lucy had just decided to rejoin Tinder, the 29-year-old single mother had been taking a break from dating to focus on her study and was now ready to get back out there.
It didn’t take long for her to find a match. Ben was a 30-year-old salesman and like most guys Lucy matched with, he was attractive, he surfed, he appeared to have a lot of friends and had just bought his first home.
“I was so excited when we matched! He was so cute and he looked like he had his life together. I am really picky when it comes to choosing guys. I have to think about what is best for my daughter Eva, I was looking for someone who could provide stability and Ben looked like he had that.”
Ben asked Lucy to coffee on the first weekend she had free. The date went well, Ben was smart and funny, he spoke a lot about his family and even footed the bill. Lucy was impressed by him and he was very taken with her, messaging her to ask for a second date as soon as she left.
“I was happy when I got the text. So many guys play games, even if they like you they will wait to text you. After that first date, Ben messaged me all the time. He’d just ask how my day was going and how Eva was, he seemed to be genuinely interested in our life. I have dated so many players in the past so honestly, the attention from Ben was refreshing.”
The relationship developed quickly, Ben wanted to see Lucy all the time and she made it happen as often as she could, considering she had joint custody of her daughter.
“Ben was keen to meet Eva, but I was in no hurry. I’ve only introduced her to one guy in the past and when it didn’t work out I decided I wouldn’t do it again until it was really serious with someone.”
Ben opened up to Lucy in a way that no other guy ever had. He told her about his recently deceased sister and his strained relationship with his father.
“It had only been two months but I felt a real connection with him, he was so into me. He even told me that he liked me so much that he hoped he’d never do anything wrong by me. At the time I thought that was really sweet.”
On the night of his birthday, Ben invited Lucy out to dinner with his closest friends and colleges. She figured it was a big deal and dressed accordingly.
“I had a new red dress that I’d been saving for a special occasion. I got ready, dropped Eva off with her Dad and then caught an Uber to the restaurant. The dinner was lovely, his boss talked to Me for most of the night and told me that I was all Ben talked about at work.”
Ben was acting strange but as Lucy had never seen him drink before she assumed that he was just tipsy. They headed to a bar after dinner.
“We were at the bar for about an hour when I left the group to go to the bathroom, on the way back I bumped into an ex-boyfriend at the bar. Things had ended amicably with him so we had a quick chat. While he was talking I heard a loud crash from outside where my group were sitting. I left my ex and went outside to see what had happened.”
Ben had seen Lucy talking to her ex and assumed she was flirting with a stranger. The loud crash was a chair that he had thrown at a wall in a fit of anger. Security arrived shortly after and escorted the group out.
“I was trying to talk to Ben but he wasn’t making any sense. He was just mumbling and seemed distraught. I was really worried about him, I hadn’t seen him act that way and I was afraid something was wrong with him. I thought if I could just get him home safely, he’d feel better and we could talk properly.”
Alarm bells began to ring in Lucy’s head in the Uber on the way back to Ben’s house.
“We were almost back to his place when he offered our Uber driver ice. I was so disgusted and confused, I didn’t actually know if he had any ice on him or if he was just making a sick joke. I asked him if he had taken something and he said no but at that point, I started to feel pretty uneasy.”
Things started to get worse when they made it back to Ben’s house and that’s when Lucy made the decision to message his roommate.
“I didn’t want to leave Ben alone at the house. He was talking about his dead sister and pacing back and forth. I decided that I would just wait with him until his roommate got home.”
Lucy got her phone out to check the time and that’s when Ben lost his temper again.
“He threw his phone at me and started screaming at me, swearing and calling me awful names. I called him an idiot and went into the lounge room to get my bag. I was getting scared then and just wanted to go home straight away.”
She was almost at the door when she heard the sound of glass shattering in the kitchen.
“I went to walk out but then I thought that he’d hurt himself and I couldn’t just leave him there. I felt a bit sick in the stomach going back in there but I needed to see if he was okay.”
“When I walked into the kitchen I found Ben surrounded by glass, he looked at me and then threw another glass on the floor. I was so scared, he looked like a different person, he definitely was not the guy that I had started to fall for. I could see that he wasn’t hurt so I turned to leave again but he grabbed me. He picked up some detergent and sprayed it all over his hand, I was so confused, I had no idea what he was doing. He pulled at my arm again, this time tighter, I kept trying to pull away but he wouldn’t let me go. By this stage I was terrified and shaking, he let go of my arm for a second to pick up his lighter. At first, he pretended to try to light his hand on fire and then he grabbed me again. I just kept thinking the whole time that I wish I had of left when I had the chance. He pulled me closer and then yanked at the bottom of my dress, he pulled the lighter to it and it started to burn. He was trying to get it to light up but the detergent that he’d spilt on it earlier had made it damp.”
At that moment Ben’s housemate arrived home. She ran into the kitchen and pulled Lucy free from Ben’s grip. She held her hand and took her straight to the Uber that she had caught home.
“It all happened so quickly, the next thing I knew I was safe in the Uber. I cried the whole way to my Mum’s house. I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me. When I got there it was 2 am and I was a mess but I felt so relieved to be away from Ben.”
Lucy’s Mum encouraged her to go to the police and report Ben.
“My Mum wanted me to press charges then and there but all I wanted was to have a shower and go to sleep, I told her I’d think about it and went home.”
Over the next week, Lucy went back and forth with what she should do.
“On one hand I had my mum and sister wanting me to press charges, but on the other hand, I had Ben messaging me constantly, asking for another chance. He was acting so sweet again like he was when we met and I started to feel crazy like I’d dreamt that night. He really had me starting to think that I was overreacting. He even had his roommate message me and tell me that it wasn’t normal for him to act that way. In all honesty, all I wanted to do was go back to him, and pretend it never happened. I knew it was wrong and against everything that my family wanted me to do but they didn’t know him the way I did.”
“It wasn’t until the following weekend that I made my decision and cut off all contact with Ben. I spent days thinking about it and going over everything that had happened, I knew that I wasn’t overreacting and that Ben was trying to manipulate me. I blocked him on social media and asked him to never call or message me again. I didn’t press charges because I didn’t want to put myself through all of that, I just wanted to focus on my daughter and move on.”
Six months have passed since Lucy met Ben and she is yet to return to the dating scene.
“To be honest I am pretty hesitant to date again. I have Eva to think about and it is just so hard to know if I can trust someone. You read all of these stories about other women in dangerous situations with men and you think to yourself, ’that would never happen to me’ or ’I would have done this differently’ but I’ve come to realise that you can’t judge a situation until you’ve been in it yourself.”
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