- Emma was traveling from Bolivia to Madrid when she was sexually assaulted
- The man sitting next to her on the plane repeatedly pressed against her breasts
A British woman today revealed she was sexually assaulted by a male passenger sitting next to her on a ten-hour Air Europa flight to Madrid before being scolded by cabin crew for crying.
Emma, 30, was traveling on a flight from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Madrid, Spain, with her husband on Saturday when a man sitting next to her began inappropriately touching her with his arm and pressing against her breasts.
She immediately told a male cabin crew member that the passenger had approached her and would not stop despite her and her husband’s insistence – only for the Air Europa employee to “shrug and walk away.” was going”.
Emma, not her real name, said the man, who she believes to be in his 60s, kept touching her and ignored her requests for space for a horrific two hours in an accident that left her” revolted and humiliated”.
Emma, who was previously a victim of sexual abuse, told MailOnline the cabin crew did nothing to help her or stop the abuse, instead yelling at her that she was ‘crying like a baby’.
Emma says she was the one who was forced to switch seats and the crew even threatened to land the plane in Colombia and remove her and her husband from the plane after she told them she was having a panic attack .
“I felt disgusted and completely revolted,” says Emma. “I was so angry that I had to tell myself so many times that I didn’t want this man to touch me.
‘When I came home from this experience, I really felt broken. It takes so much to attempt to live a near-normal life after sexual abuse and I feel like this has brought me full circle. It triggered all the previous traumas,’ says Emma.
She revealed that she and her husband planned to start trying for a baby in the next couple of weeks, but this experience put those plans on hold because she’s feeling “numb.”
“I felt numb and disconnected from my own body and told my husband that I don’t think I can try for a baby right now. I need some time because it’s really debilitating to go through trauma like that.’
Speaking about her experience on the plane, Emma said it minutes after she sat down in her seatAfter a two-week romantic vacation in Bolivia, the male passenger sitting next to her started touching her and pressing his arm against her breasts.
“It was pressing against me and at first I thought about moving my body and trying not to use the whole seat, but it was really uncomfortable,” Emma explains.
“I repeatedly asked him not to touch me and to give me space, but he didn’t do anything,” she says.
Emma called the cabin crew and told them he was approaching her, but they were no help and told the Briton and the passenger to “work it out” between themselves.
“The man kept pressing against me and in places I could feel his arm on my ribs right next to my breasts,” Emma says. ‘He triggered me so much because I have previous experience of sexual assault.’
Emma claims that when she called the cabin crew, an “aggressive” cabin crew member wagged his finger at the vacationer and told her, “If you don’t stop, you’ll be in big trouble.”
‘There were four cabin crew members standing in the aisle, two of them were yelling at me. Then they left me and I was crying,’ says Emma.
“That man was still pressed against me and I was getting more and more agitated and at that point it was quite traumatic that so many people didn’t understand that I didn’t want to be touched by this stranger.
“I kept telling him to stop touching me and he just ignored me.”
Cabin crew had initially said Emma could move to the front, but said it should have been the man who was touching her inappropriately who had to move.
But after the man repeatedly pressed against Emma, she went with her to the front of the plane in search of an empty seat.
‘I was crying in my husband’s arms. A male cabin crew member started yelling at us – me in particular – saying I was acting like a child,” Emma says.
“He grabbed the phone and said I’m going to ask the captain to land the plane in Colombia and leave you there if you don’t stop.” I was belittled and shouted at in front of everyone by the cabin crew. They couldn’t understand why I was having this traumatic reaction.’
After this exchange, Emma says she decided to sit in the front of the plane without her husband. “I couldn’t stop crying,” she says.
After an hour or two, Emma started having a panic attack and felt like she couldn’t breathe. She went to the back of her plane where her husband managed to calm her down and was given water by the cabin crew.
Emma says she spoke to a male cabin crew member and explained her situation and how the man pressed his arm against her breasts and ribs.
“He said to me, ‘Yes, but he was touching you with his arm, not his hands. Do you really think it was sexual assault?” Emma says.
“He told the female flight attendant I wanted to bring it up as a sexual abuse case and she huffed and rolled her eyes.”
Emma says cabin crew finally moved the man from his seat after five hours.
Emma was considering reporting the incident to the police when she landed in Madrid but was told by cabin crew that it would take some time and that they would miss their connecting flight to the UK.
She says she didn’t report it to UK police because she didn’t think she would be believed after the cabin crew didn’t believe her.
Speaking on why she hasn’t swapped places with her husband, she said: ‘Whenever I experience moments like this, unless I feel like I’m in danger, I’d rather stand my ground and say no because it would have stayed on my mind. I would be sorry if my husband had to intervene.’
She said the experience left her “absolutely disgusted and revolted”.
“I was also angry because I had to tell myself so many times that I didn’t want to be touched – and the man just refused to listen and the cabin crew sided with him instead,” Emma says.
“It was a nightmare. The cabin crew justified his behavior and laughed at me.’
‘I was triggered because of my previous experience with sexual abuse. It made me feel like my body didn’t belong to me and that all these people had a say in how I should be touched.’
Discussing why she decided to come forward with her experience, Emma says: ‘I’m not interested in getting my money back. I just want to share what happened because this is a small battle within a really big battle.
“Women live in a society where we sometimes lose the right to own our bodies and experience sexual harassment or abuse on a daily basis.”
Air Europa was contacted by MailOnline for comment.