I’m a man and this story in response to the call for traumatic experiences related to rape. It’s not my own but rather one on behalf of a relative who nearly even paid for her supposed indiscretion with her life and never reported it.
Her indiscretion was of going road running alone and apparently being responsible for tempting a sadistic human being who meticulously planned his rape attack. He also didn’t intend to just stop there.
The story begins with how she used to jog an early morning route and it was this predictability of routine that the psychopath decided to take advantage of. He knew she would pass a certain point at a certain time when few people would be around there and thus acted like a predator waiting to ambush its prey. The difference here is an animal preys on another in order to eat so it can survive. He rather wanted to satisfy an evil thread within him.
She doesn’t recall much of the attack that took place save for some critical moments. She was caught off guard by him rushing out of the bushes, him overwhelming her with his strength and then in shock as he dragged her into the bushes. All while he held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her if she screamed. She complied even as her tore her clothes off.
Then he did something subtly ever more sinister. He took a condom out of his pocket as he held her down with his own weight and took his pants off.
My relative then immediately realised that he intended to kill her regardless.
This is because some rapists who kill their victims after raping them use a condom so there is no evidence of their semen with their DNA to be traced back to them. He was also not wearing a mask so it was clear he did not intend to let her live to later identify him.
Her survival instincts kicked in with that realisation as he was about to try to penetrate her and she completely ignored his threats to kill her if she screamed. She pushed back and kicked and thrashed, kicked and thrashed and clawed as desperately as she could, fighting to throw his heavy weight off of her despite her relative lack of strength to his. She screamed loudly and as high pitch as she could again and again as she clawed back at him and his face frantically, not heeding his repeated threats to cut her throat. She clawed and thrashed and screamed again and again and again! She had to get away from him!!!
She somehow threw him off in her thrashing and broke out of his grip. Rising up to her feet in her torn clothes with her body badly bruised from his physical assault she began to run, knowing he would follow, chase her down… and probably kill her.
Then around the corner came two elderly couples on their own early morning jog.
She ran to them and they came to her comfort and aid. Her attacker, now on his feet, however casually did up his jeans and started simply walking away. She pointed to him, shaking from shock and the adrenaline surging through her and the two elderly men ran up to confront him.
Surely he would be punished for this? Now there were five people versus one and he couldn’t deny this. His face was in full view of five people.
But he was completely brazen and relaxed. He pulled out his knife and stuck his hand into his pocket, saying he also had a gun there. He even laughed and said he knew they couldn’t do anything to him – both physically and through the law.
And then he simply walked away towards a park. Goading the two elderly men all the way until he was out of sight and hearing.
My relative had ultimately been extremely lucky and had done the right thing by fighting back at her would be rapist. Her survival instincts had triggered and over ridden the initial fear and shock that made her freeze. She had indeed survived and narrowly avoided being raped but was left with a form of post traumatic disorder similar to what traumatised soldiers from heavy conflict display when they return from a battle. She still freezes and shakes when she is suddenly surprised by a man who happens to remind her of her attacker.
Surely then the testimony and eyewitness accounts of five people would have motivated the police to investigate?
Apparently not and they were not at all helpful either.
They reasoned ‘how could they investigate if there was no actual rape?’ Where was the evidence? So what if five people would testify, they needed something more solid. They’re short of resources and need to investigate ‘real crimes’ beyond someone’s say so. Why was she out running by herself? She should know better? And so on and so on went the garbage reasoning.
Some police commitment and public service.
So in the end it wasn’t even written down by anyone at the station and as such came to never be reported.
What of her attacker though? We have no idea what became of him and thus fear the worst; that he went on to attack other women and to even take their lives. We only hope that another twist of fate of some sort has rid this reality of him.
And where did the attack actually take place? Was it in some open veld perhaps or another dubious area she should have known better than to enter? She must have been foolish and should have realised she was ‘asking for it’ then?
No. It happened on an open street in a high class suburb and on behind a bush outside an opulent home with a very, very high wall. A suburb not too far away at all from where many powerful national figures live and go about their personal lives, divorced from the reality of the common person.
That fact should be seen as a subtle reminder that the brutal reality of South Africa incidence of rape is never far away, however much the powerful and the wealthy try to put such a matter out of sight and mind, or might have even covered their ears to the sound of her screams that day. The same street also had a private security guard, for all the help he was, a few hundred meters down the street who admitted he’d seen the would be rapist before.
Some other people out there might also not be alive today either if she hadn’t fought to live, as her own work is about saving lives. That needs to be placed alongside the mindset of seeking to overlook or somehow justify those evil men who take lives, figuratively and literally, through rape.
I must admit in closing that I can’t fathom within myself how many rapists would be able to achieve an erection beyond sexual depravity mixed with a form of inner bloodlust or sadistic pleasure drawn from another person’s suffering and utter lack of sense of empathy. That is where many also need to realise that there is a distinction between those sick individuals who are ‘mad’ and those who are ‘bad’. There is no redemption for the latter and no excuse.
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.