I have just a small story that could have been rape if someone had not disturbed him.
It was in the early 80’s in East London’s Race Relations offices. I was part of Masazane a youth organisation. The youth organiser had been a friend for years. But one day we were alone upstairs and he pinned me against the wall – I tried to wriggle free but realised that he was really too strong for me so I started talking and saying that I ‘liked him as a friend but not like that’. He started to touch me but then someone came up the stairs which made him let me go. I never talked to anyone about this. I was afraid that ‘it was just his way of expressing his feelings and I misinterpreted it’ and also because he was black that I would cause a terrible furore in our particular ‘anti-apartheid’ community, that I wouldn’t be believed, that I was frightened ‘for nothing’, imagining things and so on. So I simply made sure never to be left alone with him again. I was also really young and already friends had gone into detention. The police were not friends. Not a very big story I know, but I imagine rapists do sometimes not succeed and women do nothing as they can’t quite believe their experience and then of course they succeed with someone else. That is why I believe in ‘zero tolerance’ of any forced sexual encounters.
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.