Instagram influencer painted rosy picture of Dominican Republic — despite terrifying encounters
An Instagram influencer known for traveling around the world with her husband said she was nearly abducted and sexually assaulted during their trip to the Dominican Republic.
Cora Smith — who, with her hubby, Jay, runs the Instagram account The_GreatEscape.Blog, which has 26,000 followers — said she felt compelled to paint a rosy picture online of their three-month jaunt to the DR in 2018.
“You feel this obligation to be honest, but a fear of rejection if you are,” Smith said in an interview with Business Insider. “I didn’t tell my story, and I think it’s out of fear.”
The couple from Orlando, Florida, stayed in Airbnbs in Santo Domingo, Punta Cana and Costambar. On their second day in Santo Domingo, Smith was out for a jog while her husband napped when she was approached by a man in a car.
The man, she claimed, got out and opened his passenger door, trying to usher her in — but she quickly started running in the opposite direction.
In Punta Cana, Smith said, she was riding her bike, with her husband ahead of her, when three men on a motorbike rode up and groped her.
“They were violating me in every way you can except being raped,” she said. “I kept trying to kick them away but I had no control of what was happening. They pushed my bike to try to get me to fall over. I’m yelling for my husband but he’s ahead of me and he couldn’t hear me.”
Smith said after that experience, she didn’t feel safe leaving her husband’s side in the DR. Still, the couple stayed in the country, saying they couldn’t afford to change their travel plans.
“We really kind of isolated ourselves to protect ourselves from the dangers of where we were,” Smith said.
She said she didn’t go to police, claiming officers previously threatened to throw her husband in jail if he didn’t give them his wallet.
“We were very worried about bashing anyone or anything. In all honesty, influencers are too scared to tell the truth and feel they need to show the beautiful side,” Smith said. “Most people only want to hear the positive things.”
The couple’s Instagram photos of the DR portray a dream-like trip filled with palm tree-lined beaches, drinks with pals and gorgeous sunsets. Smith said they didn’t have a huge following at the time and didn’t make money off the vacation.
She first shared her harrowing experience in a blog post last year — but said she wanted to make it more publicly known following the recent spate of deaths in the DR and news that a Delaware mom was brutally attacked at a resort there. Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz was also recently shot while sitting at a bar in Santo Domingo.
“It’s not a safe country, and it’s not just the five-star resorts,” Smith said. “I feel like I can’t sit here and listen to the prime minister and say, ‘Our country is safe,’ because it’s not safe.”
What Caribbean countries are still safe to travel to?
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