As women, we’ve become accustomed to applying hyper vigilance when it comes to keeping ourselves safe and avoiding harassment. We book taxis home at night to minimise risk and we clutch our keys if we do decide to walk back. We watch our drinks in bars and clubs.
Some of us change our workout routines come winter to avoid running after dark. Where we are supposed to feel safe is in our homes. Our living space should be the place we feel most at ease and protected, and yet women are now reporting that, thanks to a number of predatory takeaway delivery drivers, they no longer feel safe there either.
Content creator Lauren Vassallo was at home alone one evening when she ordered a Deliveroo takeaway. She lives in an apartment block, and buzzed the driver through the outside entrance before meeting him at her front door. Immediately, he began acting in a way that made her feel uneasy.
“He leaned towards me, his eyes lit up and he looked excited. His whole demeanour, aura, everything really threw me off,” she recalled. “I instinctively shouted, ‘babe, food’s here’ despite the fact my boyfriend wasn’t home.” She closed the door, plated up her food and started eating. Ten minutes later, she heard a knock. “I asked who it was through the door, and the driver shouted ‘delivery’ in this weird voice. I told him I hadn’t ordered anything else, but he just kept repeating ‘delivery, deliverooooo’ and continued knocking. I felt petrified.” Lauren called her boyfriend and told him to come home, and by the time he arrived, the driver had left. “I could barely get the words out, I was so shaken and scared,” she says. “It was just the idea of him lingering by my door waiting for me to open up. I honestly thought he was going to rape me.”
Lauren contacted Deliveroo and asked for his details, but the company declined to share them. “I wanted to know who he was. He had anonymity whereas he knew where I lived and that made me feel really vulnerable. If someone’s anonymous, it’s harder for them to be held accountable – it makes it easy for them.” She has since put up a security camera at her door. “He might never come back, but he could – he knows where I live now,” she says. “Even if Deliveroo fired him, he still knows where I live, and that makes me feel really anxious.” GLAMOUR has passed details of Lauren’s incident to Deliveroo for investigation.
Her story is far from an isolated incident. After Lauren shared her experience on Instagram, she was inundated with responses from other women, many of whom could relate to her account. “Of all the things I’ve posted, that had the bigger reaction. Women told me about the measures they take to keep themselves safe from delivery drivers and about their stories of harassment,” she said. “It stopped me from feeling overdramatic, which was nice, but it also made me think, ‘wow, this happens a lot.’”
Claire Mason was at home on her own in her student house when she ordered a takeaway delivery. It was a gloomy winter evening and she hadn’t turned the lights on yet, so the driver didn’t have a clear view of her when he arrived. Still, this didn’t stop him harassing her. “He started saying weird stuff, telling me I was beautiful and that he really liked me,” she said. “I interrupted, asked him to give me my food and then closed the door. Minutes later he started sending me text messages telling me he was in love with me and that he was glad we’d met.
At first I thought it was funny, then it dawned on me that he had my number and my address and that’s when I started to feel scared. I was worried that he was going to break in and assault me. He felt predatory, it wasn’t about me specifically – I could have been any woman home alone and he would have responded the same.” Mason messaged the delivery company immediately, but after receiving an automated response, called the police. “They thanked me for calling, but ultimately just said he probably had a crush on me and not to worry. That didn’t feel great – they didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t order takeaways for three months after that.”