I am a 29 year old woman living in Cape Town, South Africa. I have just watched Brave Miss World on Netflix and for the first time I felt like it was okay to cry but also know that there may come a time when my sister will feel empowered again. Hearing your story gave me insight that I may never have had. Thank you for being bold enough to put yourself in a vulnerable position and share your story in the hope that it will help others.
My sister, who is 5 years younger than me and lives in Johannesburg (where I’m from and where all my family lives) was gang raped by 3 men in late November 2015. She is one of my best friends and I still remember my mother telling me via text what had happened a week after my sister’s rape. I immediately fell to the ground, it felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t imagine what she must have been feeling and all I wanted to do was hold her.
For a week my sister refused to speak with me, almost hiding. In this time, I went to the Rape Crisis Centre in Observatory (Cape Town) and saw a counsellor who was able to help me understand not only how she must be feeling but how to interact with her. When I eventually spoke to my sister and saw her, she shared bits and pieces. I didn’t want her to feel like she had to relive the trauma or experience, she had to do that enough times dealing with the police and doctors. I learnt that it happened in her car with a gun to her head, she was choked and said that there was semen everywhere. Immediately after it happened she said all she wanted to do was die, she didn’t care who would look after her 3 year old daughter. She said she drove to my mother’s cousin’s house who called the ambulance and my mother. She said at least the rapists didn’t try to kiss her on the mouth.
I know my sister feels ashamed, disgusting and dirty. She’s on anti-retrovirals and says that sometimes she forgets it ever happened. I sometimes feel guilty for being away from her. My sister feels uncomfortable when she finds out that people know she’s been raped. I think it’s because she blames herself as she was drunk when it happened. I try to tell her that it will never be her fault and that we’re taught to believe that women deserve to be raped, violated and harassed; especially living in a country like South Africa.
I work in the film industry here and am hoping to screen the film here. As soon as I have made the appropriate plans I’ll fill out your online form. It’s important to feel like we have a voice. I may not be a rape survivor but having one of the closest people to me raped by 3 men has changed my life. Thank you again.