I’ve just finished watching your amazing documentary, it’s taken me a couple of months of knowing about it to finally be able to press play. I’m so pleased I did, I cried for you Linor, I cried for myself and I cried for all the strong women who spoke, and more than anything I think I cried with your family and friends, giving me some insight into my own family as after 19 years I am on a journey to stop minimizing what happened to me and realize what an unimaginable reality it really was. Kind of a really amazing movie that no one would actually want to watch.
In 1995 as a 21 year old New Zealander I was living as a volunteer on a Kibbutz in the North of Israel, I had been there for 4 months and was having a wonderful time. I was very aware of the freedom I represented and the world I came from and was experiencing. I was very outgoing, happy go lucky, interested in everything and engaging. Then one Friday night at the local bar on the Kibbutz as was normal unless we’d hitch hiked to a local area on our day and a half off we were all enjoying a drink. I was speaking with some local guys who I new and after one drink I felt like ‘something wasn’t right’ and asked friends to walk me back to my room as I didn’t feel right.
From this moment on when I thought I was safe my world changed forever and the worst experience of my life began in earnest. Up to 4 men raped me that night in my room, I shall never know how many as my only memory is waking with one on top and 3 sitting at the bottom of my room. I was paralyzed, my brain was screaming my body was writhing but nothing was happening because I was drugged and paralyzed.
The next morning I awoke to pick up my night clothes from the floor and awake to the nightmare. Shortly afterwards a new volunteer asked if my ‘friends’ had found my room the night before as she had pointed them there. Yes they found me…….
I told one of the men I had asked to escort me safely back to my room about it on a walk and was told this is what happens, don’t worry about it. For me this kind of thing didn’t happen and for the following week I went about my duties not saying a word and also never allowing myself to fall asleep. On the 7th day we had a Kibbutz trip and as I got off the bus at the end of the day the solider escorting us whispered to me would I like it to happen again tonight. This was the moment I realized it was real, it did happen and I became even more frightened. I was in a foreign county a long way from home, my parents couldn’t understand why I would be there in the first place and I felt I had no where to turn.
I went to work the next morning after another night of no sleep then took a walk and collapsed under a bridge to cry. I felt I had been followed for the presiding week and was quickly bundled off and taken to the medical centre. From here I was questioned and somehow betrayed by the Kibbutz leader and taken on a ride and incarcerated in a mental institution. My alternative apparently if I reported the rapes was jail.
I had an angel there in the form of another volunteer who barely left my side. When she did I was told she was never coming back. In that place I was again victimized, given copious amounts of drugs and came in and out of consciousness for the following week. My angel pleaded my case, obviously I could barely string a sentence together and eventually came upon a Russian Doctor who had a daughter similar in age and agreed to sign the papers to release me.
Next came the journey to the airport by the Volunteer Leader who had betrayed me who briefed us on the journey how we must behave and answer questions at the airport. I don’t know how we made it out, perhaps the second threat of jail allowed me to hold it together long enough to pass the questioning. My angel flew back to Australia with me where my Mother met us and took me back to New Zealand. Having no idea I’d been raped, though aware of my time in the mental hospital.
My case will never be heard and nothing done, though after 19 years I am finally owning and realizing the enormity of what happened to me through the help of an amazing councillor. It affects my mind every day though it hasn’t controlled my life, I’ve gone on to complete a Masters Degree, have an amazing husband and a son. Having my son as a preemie baby and then latter complications set off my post traumatic stress disorder and I seriously contemplated suicide and as a shock to me I started reliving the rape and incarceration. Thankfully I know what this is now and I’m into a growth phase and sharing my story is part of that.
If you’ve read this far, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Watching the documentary touched all of my being, seeing women who have experienced the same as myself. We are many but so few are able to talk. I believe I am one of probably hundreds or thousands this happened to in Israel, yet I come upon no other stories thus far.