Why I didn’t report #14 – “How do you report rape, if you don’t even know what to call it?”

Because I didn’t know it was rape.

He was a very close friend. I had a massive crush on him. But he had a girlfriend. I loved him from afar.
One night, he showed up on my doorstep, coked out of his mind.
He couldn’t sleep, he said.
Could he just crash in my bed, he said.
It would help him calm down, he said.
I said yes.
He passed out.
He was coming off a major buzz, sweating profusely.
I remember how my sheets were soaked and how I kept rolling into fresh sweaty patches.
I remember lying awake thinking how disgusted I was with his behaviour, how all I wanted to do was get him out and wash my bedding.
I woke up the next morning with him spooning me.
He was pressing himself against me and kissing the back of my neck.
I said no.
I said I wanted to but he had a girlfriend. So no.
He kept kissing me.
He started touching me.
“Come on,” he said.
“No,” I said.
I pushed his hands away.
They came back.
It happened again and again.
And at some point I gave in. Maybe my body wanted it. Maybe it was easier than fighting.
Immediately after, I had a shower. I told him I had to get ready for work and he needed to leave.
He phoned me later that day.
“Shit, we didn’t use protection,” he said. “Maybe we should get a pregnancy test.”
I told him not to worry about it.
When it came up in conversation later, we called it, “The Catholic Incident.”
We joked about it.
Things were going well with his girlfriend. But for months, he’d still touch me inappropriately whenever we hung out and I would always have to say no — every time. It was never a lesson learnt on his part. I guess he just assumed that, like before, it would become a yes. He didn’t to notice how uncomfortable I was becoming around him.
And then, one day, the penny dropped. The sex was not consensual. I hadn’t wanted it.
I cut the ties completely. I still haven’t told him why. Every now and then, I get messages from him saying he misses me and hoping I’m well.
But once I’d made the mental leap about how our sex wasn’t consensual, there was no going back to pretending everything was okay.
Maybe what happened wasn’t rape. I really don’t know how to define it. Maybe when my body gave in, it became consensual… even though my whole heart as revolting against it.
And how do you report rape, if you don’t even know what to call it?

——

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

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I didn’t report #13 – “If it happened to anyone else, I would call it rape”

I didn’t report my rape, because to this day – almost seven years later – I still flip-flop between whether or not it was actually “rape”. It’s funny, if it had happened to anybody else, I probably would say that it was a rape. But because it’s me, well… Anybody who knows me knows that I blame myself for everything. And that night I knew what I was doing, up until a point – I thought I had control of the situation, until I clearly didn’t.
It’s not a particularly uncommon story, unfortunately. It was a guy I’d been hooking up with on and off for several months. I don’t know how drunk he was, but I was very drunk – I’d had a ridiculous amount of cheap tequila that night.He knew I was a virgin, and he knew – and had known, for all the time we had known each other – that I had no interest in having sex with him. And he’d always tried to pressure me a little, verbally – mercifully, until that point, never physically. I’d always been able to talk him out of it.I don’t remember meeting him that night, or when we decided to leave the bar we were at. I do remember lying with him on the lawn in front of our university admin building because I needed a rest. I don’t remember the walk up to his room at all. Strangely, I do remember him taking out his contact lenses.

I don’t remember much. I do remember that we were fooling around, when all of a sudden I felt… pressure. I asked if he had put “it” in, and he said yes. I asked if he was at least wearing a condom, he said no. Some drunken part of my brain – and I will probably beat myself up about this for years to come – went, “Well, it’s too late now” – and I said, “Well fucking at least put one on then”. Or something to that effect. He did, and carried on. My tequila-addled brain was more concerned about HIV and pregnancy than anything else that was happening at the moment.

It was only the next morning, when I told my best friend, that she said: “You do know that he raped you, right?” But I felt complicit in it. Because I had not said no. Because I hadn’t fought. Because I was drunk, flirtatious, all of those things that people use to blame a rape survivor, and make the rape her fault. I wish I had said no, instead of letting him carry on. I wish I could at least have that.

I haven’t spoken of it again until now. I didn’t report it because, at that stage in my life, I didn’t feel that it was rape. I still don’t, sometimes. Because we’re taught – because it is ingrained so deeply into the young women in our country – that rape is almost always partly your fault.

——

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

Why I didn’t report #12 – “I was raped at four years old by an ‘uncle’”

I was raped at four years old by an “uncle”.
(It was only many years later that I found out he wasn’t even a relation!)  I never mentioned it to anyone, at that age I wasn’t even sure what had happened. I developed a severe speech impediment as a result and was painfully shy all through my childhood and teens. When I went to family functions and he was there I would hide in a room with a book until he had left or it was time for us to leave. I told my younger sister when I was fifteen, have never told my mother and only my closest friends know about it.  It has affected my whole life, to the extent that at 43 I’ve never had consensual sex and refer to myself as a ‘virgin’.
Should I have reported it? Probably yes, but in those days (the early 70’s) there weren’t the resources that there are now for victims of sex crimes and it would have destroyed an entire family.
Even now, I don’t feel that it would achieve anything by telling my mother about it.  The man who raped me is now dead and buried and I sometimes pretend to myself that it never happened.

——

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

I reported my rape – and I wish I hadn’t #10

I did report my rape but I wish I hadn’t.

The detective never believed me because of things he felt I had done to make my rapist think I wanted to have sex. The prosecutor decided not to charge him with rape because “it would be too hard to prove that he knew you didn’t want it.”
I was unconscious while he raped me.

——

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

I reported being raped – and was victimised #8

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 must have slipped in and out of consciousness at least 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 based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

Why I didn’t report #7 – “I couldn’t remember everything that happened”

I never reported my rape. First of all because I could not recollect everything that had happened, even though I do remember the crucial parts.

My drink had been spiked by the guy I was seeing at the time. I thought it would be my story against his – I was 23, a student, and he was much older. I was convinced I would lose the case. Then there were the threats from his side. If I would go to the cops, he would make sure I would regret it. I had, in the meantime and via via, found out that he was part of the local drugs scene. I never knew. M knew many people, bad people.  Thirdly, I was afraid my parents would find out if I would press charges. I knew my dad would hire a shotgun and  blow his brains out, literally. This would cause even more damage. I did not want my mom and dad to pay for whatever he had done. So I decided to keep quiet.

While I have dealt with it and given my rape a spot in my life, I think about that evening – now some 13 years ago – a lot – particularly when a victim is treated unfairly. And that happens a lot in South Africa. This society is not rape victim friendly. As a journalist I have written too many stories around this issue.

What doesn’t help is that rape seems to have become normal. Only the hectic cases end up in the news. I find it utterly incomprehensible that it takes an extremely violent rape case for people to wake up and smell the coffee, and protest on behalf of the victim’s sake. Sometimes I wonder when will it sink in that you don’t have to have your thighs forcefully pulled apart by a group of strangers in order to feel utterly and fundamentally destroyed. When will the masses realise that you don’t have to be left in an empty field or ditch to completely feel dehumanised and humiliated, that you don’t have to be infected with some other disease to feel sick, dead even. When will the public acknowledge that you don’t have to be killed by your rapist in order to die.

From my own experience, I know that just being forced to have sex with someone against your free will is enough to feel all of the above and more. It was 7 January 2000 when I met M, just after the Millennium celebrations and 4.5 years before I moved to South Africa. I was 23 and totally smitten. He was good looking, funny, kind and a few years older. He bought me flowers. I cooked me dinner. Butterflies galore. On that evening of 7 January, a short week after were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, he took me out for a drink. I was over the moon. However, not too long after we had arrived at the bar, I started to feel funny: dizziness, nausea, blurred vision. Everything had a bright golden glow. I knew I couldn’t possibly be drunk as I had barely touched my second Smirnoff Spin.

M kindly offered to drive me home. I can’t remember much from the drive, apart from throwing up en route at the side of the road. Black hole. M says he is worried about me falling down the stairs and insists of walking me to my flat. Black hole. He tells me to lay on my bed and to relax. I will feel better soon, he adds. Black hole. He is kissing me while undressing me. I tell him to stop. He continues, saying that I can’t sleep in my smoky clothes. Black hole. He is on top of me. His pants are down his knees. I am half naked. I tell him to stop. I don’t have control over my hands. They feel rock heavy, and completely immobile. Black hole. I feel how he pushes inside me. Black hole.

The next thing I remember is being in the shower. It is the day after, god knows how late. I am crying, scrubbing my skin blood red with a loofa. I am trying to stitch together the flurries of memories and the black-outs. I can’t believe this has happened. Michael is gone. I still have no idea when he left, or whether he spent the night. Then a whole lot of nothing – until a male friend rings the doorbell. We were supposed to have dinner.

It was only much later when I found out that M was deeply entrenched in the local drug scene as a dealer (and user), and that he had spiked other girls’ drinks before. I also found out how he had emptied my bank account when I, in my drugged up state, asked him to “draw some money for me too”. I ended up withdrawing my police statement after various threats.

Like most rapes that are committed in South Africa on a daily basis, my ordeal happened without any additional violence. What happened that night didn’t involve various men shoving their penises inside me one by one, hours on end. My rape didn’t happen in some filthy back alley, on the cold tarmac. I was not under-age when it happened. I did not end up with cuts, bruises, or worse. I didn’t need reconstructive surgery. I didn’t end up HIV positive. I didn’t end up with my belly slit open.

Nope, my rape just involved forced sex, nothing more and nothing less. It happened in the comfort of my own home, on my bed, after my drinks were spiked by the perpetrator who happened to be the guy I was seeing at the time.

It took me a long time to give it a space. No, I haven’t told everyone I know about what happened some 13 years ago because rape is not a subject you slot into any random conversations. My dad still doesn’t know. But I can talk and write about it. Sometimes however, I feel I shouldn’t. There are after all so many cases that are so much worse than mine. Take the first-ever rape case I covered. I was working at The Cape Times at the time, and it involved a 16-month old toddler. Her bleeding body was found in an abandoned field in Brooklyn. She needed reconstructive surgery, but survived. I remember thinking: “Perhaps my case is actually not so bad after all.”

I am not alone with these thoughts, which pop up on a regular basis. I know scores of women, young and old, who struggle with similar feelings. You might be one of them, who knows. So many victims feel they can’t speak out simply because their ordeal is not classified as ‘extreme’ by society, therefore they feel they should not complain. I would not be surprised if this notion deters women from reporting their rape to the police and seeking help. I have also notice how the term ‘normal rape’ is popping up its nasty head more frequently.

Not too long ago, in a local coffee shop around the corner from me, I overheard a conversation between two women. They were debating sexual violence. The one used the words ‘normal rape’ to differentiate between extreme and not-extreme cases. I don’t believe I have ever been so angry. For the record: there is no such thing as normalrape. Forcing someone to have sex with you is not normal, far from, and it will never ever be normal. Therefore, it should never ever be treated or defined as such.

——

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

Why I didn’t report #6 – “No one is going to believe you. Why would you put yourself through that?”

My friend raped me when I was drunk and vulnerable. It took me a few months to finally acknowledge to myself that it was rape, and that I was now a rape survivor.

The mental leap I had to do to get to that point was jarring and disturbing. I developed chronic insomnia in the lead up to finally accepting that it was rape.I arrived at work at around 6 to 7 am every day, stayed there until I started getting weird looks from the subs at about 11pm, went home where I spent endless hours researching sexual violence on the internet, slept for an hour, head to gym at 5am, went back to work by 6 to 7 am. Every day for weeks, until I got into my first online campaign against sexual violence. It was the #mooreandme campaign started by American feminist writer Sady Doyle to combat rape apologist and myth comments made by Michael Moore and Keith Olberman. The kind of virtual solidarity I found in that space made me feel I could write about what happened to me, albeit anonymously.

A few days later I decided I needed to tell someone. My mom was the first person I told. Her response? She told me I mustn’t tell anyone, because then everyone would see me as a victim. She said it would hinder future job offers, as employers wouldn’t be able to take me seriously. She said it wasn’t worth reporting the rape to police, because I didn’t have any evidence. It took me some years and therapy to forgive her for trying to silence me, but it seems she was right about reporting the rape to the police. People just don’t believe me when I talk about what happened to me. Actually, scratch that. The vast majority of people who believe me are perfect strangers. Then there are those people who were both my friends and that of my rapist.

I started naming my rapist in private conversations with mutual friends last year for the first time. One of the friends told me he believed me, and was so angry he wanted to punch out my rapist. A few days later we met for dinner, and while we were getting drinks at the bar, who should saunter up? You guessed it – my rapist. I would have hoped my friend would choose that moment to stand by me in solidarity, but instead he opted to hug my rapist right in front of me. I said I was going to pee, and when I got to the bathroom I crumbled in a panicked heap. Eventually I pulled my shit together, but didn’t want to ‘make a scene’, so I had dinner with my friend anyway. He didn’t notice the panic or the streaky make-up from my episode in the bathroom – either I’m really good at covering up, or he knew he fucked up but opted not to ‘make a scene’.

The second friend I told after a night out drinking. I was completely wasted, but drove him home nonetheless. (I wasn’t exactly known for my responsible decisions while this was all happening.) I burst into tears, screamed and shouted and pounded the steering wheel until I had bruises on the sides of my hands. I told him that I had been raped, and who raped me. I can’t remember his response; I just remember what happened a few months later.

We were at my favourite haunt, where myself and several of my friends from my reckless and irresponsible phase hung out. We drank, smoked all manner of things, and generally made bad decisions. And one night when I was drunk and a particularly nasty one, who should walk into my bar? I think you’re getting better at this.

The alcohol and the exhaustion from the continuing chronic insomnia finally caught up to me, and I had to find a corner and sit on my hands to stop myself from glassing my rapist. I think I was quite the sight, but very few people in our group of broken vagabonds noticed, other than friend #2. Friend #2 was having a fat chat with my rapist and had just exchanged a joke when I snapped. When I got up, jaw clenched, vodka-and-passion-fruit glass in hand, friend #2 ran towards, grabbed me and pulled me into a corner. I told him of my bloodthirsty plan, but not before I screamed at him to let me go and that he was a liar and a betrayer for speaking, never mind joking, with my rapist. His response?

“I’ve known the guy for nine years. You can’t just expect me to write him off if you haven’t even confronted him about raping you,” he said. “Either you lay a charge with the police or you confront him. You can’t expect me to just walk away from him.”

My bad for thinking that friends believe friends when  they saw they have been raped, and who raped them. Also, who knew it was more difficult for someone to boot out a rapist than it is for a rape survivor to face hers?

Now, it’s been a couple of years since my rape, and I know for a fact that he has raped other women. People frequently try to emotionally blackmail me for not reporting him, knowing that he continues to rape. So I considered finally opening a case against him. I consulted with sexual violence experts, with police friends of mine. All said the same thing: “Your life will be made a living hell, and for what? It’s three years later, and you don’t have a shred of evidence other than your word against his.”

“No one is going to believe you. Why would you put yourself through that?”


——

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

Why I didn’t report #5 – I responded to his touch and I didn’t know why and I was ashamed

I wasn’t raped. He only fondled my private parts. Nothing thing to see here. Nothing to report. Only a fondle. Several on different occasions over the span of a year or so, actually. But it was nothing too invasive, or violent. Nothing too serious, right? So it felt ridiculous to make a big deal about it.

Besides, my body reacted to his touch. My 12-year-old body’s pleasure centres responded to how the hand of a man almost three times my age felt rubbing my penis through my pants. I even had the capacity to stop him when he went too far, like when he tried to slip his hand down my pants or the times when he tried to get me to feel his penis.

Forget what the law said about capacity for consent and other high-minded ideals, such as justice. I responded to his touch and I didn’t know why and I was ashamed. So I didn’t report him. Not to my parents. Not to the police. Not to the staff at the dental centre where he worked. Not to my friends.

It didn’t matter that none of it was my fault, even if I did agonise over what he’d seen in me or what I’d done to invite his actions. I couldn’t bear the thought of explaining to anybody why my body reacted the way it did and why I didn’t stop him, because I was scared people might think I was gay.

At school I heard a few boys mock each other.

“You go to Dr Geldenhys as well? Did he try to touch you? You let him touch you, did you? Fag!”

They laughed. I retreated further into silence, and shame.

I tried to forget it ever happened. I tried to imagine that someone had the courage to blow the whistle on him, because I already had reason to doubt I was his only victim. I also tried to ignore the guilt and culpability I felt from knowing that somewhere out there, he might be doing the same thing to another boy.

The more time passed, the more hopeless and impossible saying anything seemed to become and the greater the shame became.

At 19 I finally told my mother. She tracked him down and discovered that he had been found out and suspended from the dentist practice after another boy had reported him for inappropriate touching. She wanted to file charges. She pleaded with me to file charges. I refused. I was still too ashamed for waiting so long, for how my body reacted, and for the confusion I felt about my sexuality and how or whether the abuse changed me in some way.

I was just happy to close the chapter believing erroneously, as I found out while writing this, that some measure of justice had been done.

It was only after reading the first ‘Why I didn’t report my rape‘ article posted here that I punched my abuser’s name into Google. To my horror I learned that early in 2008, he appealed successfully to the Supreme Court of Appeal to have the age of consent for same-sex sexual acts lowered from 19 to 16 so that he could have six of the 10 counts of child abuse he was convicted of thrown out. The Constitutional Court in November 2008 upheld the lower court’s ruling, meaning that he had to serve only four years in jail for the remaining four counts.

That’s four years for four of the 10 counts he was initially convicted of, out of the 13 he was charged with, out of the countless that went unreported.

Mine was among the unreported.

Reading through the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling, I got a play-by-play recount, some parts almost verbatim, of some of what he had done to me, except it wasn’t me. It was another 14-year-old boy and his younger seven-year-old brother. The courts had found that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him for abusing the younger boy.

It’s July 2013. His four years are up. He’s probably a free man now and the only thing standing between him and repeating what he did is the effectiveness of the parole system and the National Register of Sex Offenders and Child Protection Register, which by some accounts is a mess.

I suggest that he is likely to repeat what he did because he had been caught at least once before he abused me. Being caught was no deterrent. And through lax court systems and poor management of sex offenders, he had been allowed to roam with free, which is why I must ask:

Were you sexually abused by a dentist and some-time tour bus driver named Izak Andreas Geldenhuys?

Do you know where Izak Andreas Geldenhuys is, or do you have any other information on him?

Email me at justicereclaimed[at]gmail[dot]com. All information will be treated as strictly confidential.

This isn’t call for vigilante justice. Do not go after him and do not confront, abuse or taunt him. All I want is information to do what I couldn’t do before. I realise that at this stage the abuse will be my word against his, but I would like to do something, anything, to ensure that he doesn’t ever get to do what he did to me and who knows how many other boys.

This also isn’t to pass judgement on the millions of victims of sexual abuse, rape and other forms of violence who choose not to come forward. We all deal with what is often a very confusing, traumatic experience in our own way. It’s taken me almost two decades to get here. Knowing the demons I’m inviting back into my life by doing this still makes me doubt the wisdom of writing this.

Because in the mid of the startlingly confident conclusions currently being made publicly about consent, power, the credibility of reports of rape and abuse, what it means to accept or demand gifts from your abuser, and the possibility of justice, I’ve accepted that no safe space exists yet in South Africa for victims of rape and sexual abuse to come forward. The benefit of doubt, it seems, is given to the accused, but the accuser’s actions, motivations and judgement are all up for public derision.

——

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

Why I didn’t report #4 – I was too afraid, and so I said nothing

Trigger warning: Sexual violence, Trauma, PTSD

I had just turned 16 when I was raped.

I had incredibly low self esteem as a child and teenager, my family had moved around a lot and I always felt like an outsider. I had had one very brief, naive relationship, and wasn’t really sure how to go about dating, but I was very lonely, and desperate for someone to take an interest in me in the hopes it would somehow validate my existence. A 19 year old who worked as a waiter where I also worked seemed to take an interest in me.

We didn’t have very much in common really, but he took me out for dinner and said he wanted to be my boyfriend and I agreed. We spent some time watching movies, and spending time together, and going out. He would always dictate what we did together, and sometimes when we were spending time with his friends he would ignore me totally, and I would be too shy to speak to anyone.

After about 2 months, we had done some fairly intimate stuff, kissing and groping both with clothes and without clothes. One day I was at his house and he said that we should have sex. I said “Um, okay, I guess” and so he said, “Well take off your clothes.”

I sat on the bed and started to remove my clothing. I suddenly felt quite sick inside at the thought of having sex with this man, of losing my virginity to this man, and so I stopped unbuttoning my jeans, my shirt still on, and I said, “No I don’t want to.”

He looked at me as if I had gone mad. “What do you mean? You’ve said yes already.”

He got onto the bed and pushed me into a lying position and took off my jeans. I tried to stop him physically, but he easily overpowered me. I said, “I don’t want to!”

He said, “You’ve said yes already, why are you trying to fuck with me?”

I didn’t know what to do, I just sort of lay there, while trying to slam my legs shut repeatedly. It didn’t work.

I don’t have very accurate memories of the actual incident. There was a lot of blood and pain and I cried a lot. Afterwards he told me to put my pants back on, and that I needed to sit with him while he bathed. As he was getting into the bath he wiped some of the blood off of his penis and held out his hand to me. He said, “Look, this is your virginity.”

He made me wash his back.

Afterwards he got dressed and took me home. I bathed for hours.

A few days later I sent him an sms to say that what he had done was rape and that I was going to the police. He phoned me to say that everyone in town knew I was a dirty slut, and that it wasn’t rape, it could never be rape, because I had said yes, and I didn’t mean it when I said no. He also said that if I told anyone he would tell my parents I was a disgusting whore who had wanted him to do sick things to me, had begged him to.

I was too afraid, and so I said nothing. I knew there was no physical evidence, it was all washed away. Yes, there probably was evidence of sex, but he could blame the blood and tearing on me having been a virgin so I said nothing. I couldn’t bare for everyone to look at me like I had done those things so I said nothing. I knew it would be his word against mine so I said nothing.

He told everyone where we worked that he had broken up with me because I had cheated on him. He said that he could have forgiven me if it had been a white guy, but that it had been a black guy, and that he just couldn’t forgive.

I started hearing how there were rumours going around that I was a big slut, that I had had 3 abortions, that I would give blowjobs for money. I don’t know if it was him who started it or not, but it’s a likely possibility.

I started going out and getting drunk. One night at a bar I ran into one of my classmates. I told her that I had lost my virginity, and that it hadn’t been by choice. She just shook her head and told me to stop “looking for attention.” I didn’t try to tell people after that.

I started wondering if it was really rape. If maybe he was right. I HAD said yes first. Maybe it was all my fault, maybe he had been confused, maybe I should have fought him off better, maybe I shouldn’t have been alone with him, maybe I deserved it because I was so lonely, maybe I deserved it because I had done other intimate stuff with him.

It took me three years to start calling it rape again. I told my parents. Thankfully, they believed me. They took me to a therapist and a gynae. I was diagnosed with Vaginismus and it would be an entire year into having consensual sex for the sex to stop being excruciating. The therapist wanted me to recount the incident in detail, and it gave me nightmares, so I stopped therapy.

I started taking part in the 1in9 campaign silent protest at Rhodes. I wore the Rape Survivor T shirt. I started to tell people. I started to feel like people would actually believe me now. And many people did.

My third year wearing the t-shirt, and I ran into a friend who had been in res with a girl who had gone to my school. I had barely said 5 words to her at school, or at varsity. This friend told me that this old schoolmate of mine had told her that I was lying about it, that I had never been raped, that nothing like that had ever happened to me. The same woman who said these things about me was now wearing the tape, taking part in the protest. This woman who didn’t know me at all, this hypocrite.

I promptly threw up, and went home, unable to take part in any more of the days activities.

I still have trust issues. I still cringe at rape jokes, I still fume at rape myths, I angrily reply to “trolls” who are actually rampant misogynists, I still get told I am overreacting, that I am “over emotional”, “over sensitive” and that I should just “lighten up.”

It’s been 9 years, and I still question what I might have done differently.

——–

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.

Why I didn’t report #3 – What didn’t happen to me, but could have

I had just started studying at university. At that time I was still a virgin. I never took shit from men, and all my friends knew that. They all knew that I’d never sleep with I a man I didn’t know and didn’t like, even when intoxicated. Or at least that’s what I thought.
One night I was at a house party. There was about ten people. I knew them all fairly well. One of them was my best friend from school, and she was there with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend’s best friend was the culprit of the deed that ‘never happened’. Let’s call him Kris. Everyone knew that Kris and I didn’t see eye to eye. It was no secret. We tolerated each other, but kept communication to a minimum to avoid conflict.
 
On that night we were playing cards. I had too much wine, and went to lie down on the couch in the same room where everyone else were. Kris told me to go sleep in his bed, but I refused twice. There was no way in hell I’d put myself in a position where I had to be in a room with him alone. That’s the last bit I remember. A few hours later I woke up in his arms. He was asleep. I was fully dressed, thank God. However, I kept wondering what he had been doing to me while I was asleep. I wanted to throw up. I really hated the guy, and no matter how drunk, I could not imagine getting in this situation willingly.
 
I went to the living room where all of the other people where. I asked them to fill in the blanks in my memory. They said that Kris kept telling me to go sleep in his bed, and that he would sleep on the floor. Apparently I kept refusing, until he threatened to carry me to his room if I didn’t go with him. They thought it was pretty funny, said I had put up a good fight, ‘respect sister’, and all that.
To everyone I told, this story made no impression. Many women said if you couldn’t remember the details it didn’t count. People kept telling me that it was normal to lose inhibitions when you’re drunk, and to wake up next to people you didn’t like. My friend (whose boyfriend is Kris’s best friend) said it was no big deal, I was still a virgin (about 99% certain), why complain. I started to believe that I was crazy (sometimes still do), for being frigid and making a mountain out of a mole hill. Obviously, I didn’t report it, because there was nothing to report.
 
However, until this day I have problems trusting men. Very few people understand why something so trivial is still affecting my relationships. Not even the last bit of the story convinces people that what ‘didn’t happen to me’ was actually a very big deal: A few months later, another girl I knew woke up, half intoxicated, with Kris on top of her. She didn’t remember consenting to sex, but when I dared using the R word, she got really angry. She had a tough time dealing with what happened, but still refuses to call it rape (almost ten years later). She didn’t report him. Most people I know still hang out with Kris, even though everyone knows what he did. She was drunk they say, maybe she did consent but forgot. It’s as if it never happened.
 
Which brings me to the question, how do we report rape if ordinary people refuse to admit that it exists? ‘What didn’t happen to me’, did not serve as a warning of what mentality this guy has towards women. What didn’t happen to me, happened to this girl, because people dismissed my fears as no big deal. What didn’t happen to me, happened to this girl, and people just laughed it off. After re- reading this letter, I feel like a crazy women all over again. I must be imagining things again…
 
This story reminded me of a post on creeper’s by Captain Awkward. Read it for advice on how to deal with men who don’t take no for an answer or understand boundaries. – Mish

—–

If you are rape survivor based in South Africa 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 virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is 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. These stories aim to dispel that myth.

If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.