Struck a cord. Difference is I did report. I walked into the police station after being beaten blue, nose swollen, blood all over my shirt from my nose, shorts in tatters from being ripped with a knife, one eye blue and swollen closed. And I was victimised by the police.
I was taken to the rape section, I guess as protection to not be a sight. Yet, one by one, policewoman walked in to ooh and aah and make comments on how badly I was beaten up.
I was attacked outside my boyfriends house, on my way to sleep over at his place. I had been drinking. I was outside his place and then black. All I remember is regaining consciousness with my hands tightly grasping at the grass. Naked. Being raped. While the other attacker watched begging the other to give him his turn. I screamed and was knocked out unconscious again. Eventually I could feel the force of the blows but not the pain. My body quit on me. I was delusional. I heard cars, people talking, my boyfriend coming to get me. Everything that could possibly happen to stop this. But nothing did. When they were done, they told me to dress. My shorts were in pieces. My white shirt was bloody, dirty and in pieces. Ripped apart with the knife that was now going to kill me. I heard them discuss murdering me. They said they couldn’t risk a jail term. The one attacker, randomly said no, that he loved me and he would take me home with him. Instincts kicked in. I played a role and agreed and said I loved him too.
That is how I managed to run away into the nearest house I could.
I was taken to the police station. Had no idea of my wounds till I was allowed to go to the toilet, and there I saw myself. I wailed in disbelief. I was asked to recount what happened, describe faces. I couldn’t. I couldn’t remember well at the time. I mustve slipped in and out of consciousness atleast 5 times during the rape. I put together what I could, mostly because I was tired of all these policewoman walking in to come see this gruesome sight that was me. I was in my dirty clothes for atleast 2 hours before they finally took me to the hospital for my rape kit collections and hiv tests. All the while, all I wanted was them to finish, so I could walk out this hospital and catch a cab to my bfs place and sleep. I was so out of it. I thought I could just walk out of here and go back “to normal”.
Fast forward two days, detective in charge of my case was getting so tired of my parents asking what the latest was. She took me and my mother to her superior, in charge of the rape victim unit in Grahamstown. She crushed me. Told me I was drunk, shouldn’t have been out at “these” places, I was incoherent when I gave my statement, she had told her daughters that they should know better, you asking for trouble if you do what I did. And she asked me, did I know my rapists? Could I get into the car with her RIGHT NOW and direct her to them? Obviously I couldn’t. She told me there was nothing she could do. I felt the burden rest on my shoulders. I rushed out of the office, ran down the stairs, fell on my way down onto a street, a car braked approaching me. I was dizzy. Tears running down my face. All I could think was well effectively I deserved it. I put myself in that position. My mom ran after me, and we cried together, in the middle of high street.
2 years later, when I see that detective around town, she looks down or pretends she doesn’t see me. I live with a heavy burden of feeling I was to blame. If a lady designated and appointed to help rape victims could tell me that, how could I believe otherwise? This is the first time I write of my story. I was 21 and to this day, I have nights I roll up in a ball and just cry.
If you are rape survivor and need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call the ‘Stop Gender Violence‘ helpline at 0800 150 150.
Note: Rape myths abound after the Vavi rape accusation was brought to light. These myths hurt all rape survivors – and if you ever experience sexual violence, these myths will hurt you too. The most common myth I’ve seen is the fallacy that if you don’t report to the police, it didn’t happen. (See here.) I put out a call on Twitter for survivors who didn’t report to send me their story. To follow the series, see here.
If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please email me: michelle at journoactivist dot com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.