"I would just have to let this happen, there's nothing I can do," thought a young woman as she was pinned to the ground by a man in a secluded carpark.

The 20-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, had come home from Palmerston North's Massey University for the weekend to attend a friend's 21st party.

But when she accepted a ride home from a stranger at 3am she wound up in a Park Island carpark screaming for help.

Earlier that night, as the party wound down, the group decided to continue their night in town.

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"I always go to town, I always go to The Thirsty Whale," the woman said.

However, an argument erupted among them which saw her boyfriend flee from the situation and the woman immediately following.

As the pair ran down West Quay toward The Bluewater Hotel they noticed a white, four-door car cruising slowly past.

When her boyfriend scarpered, leaving her alone, she slumped against a fence in the Ahuriri Liquorland carpark on West Quay and sat crying.

The same white car pulled up next to her and a man believed to be of Indian descent stepped out.

He kneeled at her side, consoling her and offering her a ride home.

There were two women, well-dressed in traditional Indian saris, sitting in the backseat of the car. They encouraged her to accept the ride.

"It was only because of the women in the back that I took the ride.

"They seemed like a nice family or something - genuine, nice people."

Seated in the passenger seat during the short drive, the woman and man exchanged names. Through her tears, she told him about her night.

Driving down Prebensen Dr toward her Taradale address, he dropped the two women off on the side of the expressway, near the entrance to Parklands.

Continuing on, he turned off into Clyde Jeffery Dr. The woman said she assumed he was taking a shortcut.

Alarm bells began ringing when he took another turn into a secluded Park Island, Tamatea carpark, between the hockey stadium and Bluewater soccer stadium.

"I asked him what he was doing, where he was going - he said it was a shortcut to Taradale ... but I knew it wasn't."

He had told her that he thought they could spend some time in the carpark before he took her home.

"Well, I've done you a favour, so you can do me favour."

He got out of the car and opened her door.

After the women refused his demands for sexual acts he hauled her out of the car, grabbing and touching her, before pushing her onto the tarseal.

"He had me pinned down."

She had pleaded with him, thanked him for the ride and told him she could make her own way home.

As she screamed for help she said she thought to herself: "I know that no one will be able to help me because it's so secluded here.

"At this stage, when he had me pinned down, I thought I would just have to let this happen ... there was nothing I could do."

However, she saw a window of opportunity when he knelt to undo his fly and she kicked him in the nose. She began punching him and he scrambled back to his car and sped off.

The woman said the offender seemed nervous, with his forehead beaded in sweat.

"It was like he was an opportunist and had never done this before."

She said she did not know if the other women passengers had been aware of his plan because they appeared to be so nice.

The woman's boyfriend then rang her and he organised for her to be picked up. She called her parents and met with police at 4am.

Police took the woman's clothes, including the All Star Chuck Taylors she had worn when she kicked the offender, to swab for the man's DNA.

The woman said she enjoyed going to town and went regularly, usually catching a taxi home, or she had a pre-arranged ride.

She had always felt safe.

"It was supposed to be just a normal, fun night out."

The woman's mother said she knew women who drank too much and walked around on their own.

A close friend of the woman, who often dismissed warnings not to walk alone at night, encouraged her to tell her story. She [the woman's friend] said it had opened her eyes.

The woman's mother said girls were especially "vulnerable to predators".

"As a mother of girls, it's my worst nightmare getting that call in the middle of the night.

"I'm extremely grateful that she fought back.

"She could have been raped, or even murdered."

Despite being reluctant to leave the house since the assault, the woman said she would go back to town but issued a stern message: "No matter what, always stick together."

Victim Support had visited the woman and she was planning to undertake counselling.