How I survived Rape-Part 1
By Corey Spengler-JHB West Krugersdorp
I was 21 years old, life had been hard but I was busy studying in my third year towards my Bachelors Degree at the University of the Witwatersrand and I was full of hope for a better future. It was a week after my 21st birthday party a Friday afternoon 01 April 2005. I was tired as I had just finished a test at varsity and was taking my usual walk to Braamfontein train station to catch a train to Krugersdorp and then a taxi to Tarlton. This was how I travelled to varsity everyday from the beginning of 2004. At the garage before the train station I met a friend of mine coincidently and he was with a work colleague and he offered me a lift. I agree as I knew my friend since I was about 14 year old when we had lived in the same block and he had before given me lifts to the Westbury train station. This time it was different he had a delivery to make and wanted me to go with him as it was on the West Rand and I knew the West Rand well as I lived that side. So the three of us, me, my friend – John*, and his work colleague Jack (these are not their real names). After the delivery John asked me to go with them back to their office as they were driving a work car and a friend was picking them up and they would give me a lift home.
I was tired and I thought ok as it was better than waiting for a taxi or a train to get home. Once we got close to their offices they asked me to walk as they did not want their boss to see that they were giving someone a lift. I walked around the block and they came back to fetch me with their friend. Their friend then explained that he needed to pick up his wife so he left us as Stones near Cresta shopping mall and promised to come back for us after he had dropped his wife off. As stones John and Jack tried to get me to drink as they wanted to buy me a birthday drink. I think I had two Smirnoff spins. I started to get worried when the friend never came back, how was I going to get home and what was my mother going to say. It started to get late and John suggested that we take a taxi to the Johannesburg CBD (town) and then either get a taxi to Krugersdorp (metre taxi) or he would call his uncle to come and fetch us.
Once in town we ended up at a club from where his uncle was meant to come and pick us up, he never did. At the hotel John tried to give me a tablet as I had a huge headache and I refused it as it looked dodgy- later I found out it was ecstasy. We walked around town and ended up at a hotel where John spoke to the security and we were taken to a room which he said was his uncles room. By the time we reached the room I was so tired all I wanted to do was sleep and I remember thinking I could stay there and go home in the morning. However once the door was closed the atmosphere changed, Jack went to go and get beers and John then started to change suddenly, he told me that “Jack was a gangster and the he was going to rape me tonight unless…”. I thought I was safe with him, and that he was trying to protect me. He asked me to pretend that we had sex so that he could tell Jack we had sex and that I was his girl so he must leave me alone.
I played along for a bit but once Jack was back the evening spiralled into a downward cycle, after I made John stop the pretending to have sex, they both made it clear that I would have to make them cum then they would leave me alone. I started to give them blow jobs and shuddered at doing it and hearing them go on about how I had done this before etc. I eventually stopped and burst into tearing I tried to bargain with them to get them to leave me alone. After a lot of pleading, begging and crying they agreed to leave me alone. I had taken my clothes off for the role playing and was told that I could not put them back on as they would crease. The bed was a ¾ bed and I lay down on the one side with John on the floor next to me on my left and Jack on the bed next to me on my right. I was laying there and next thing I remember is Jack asking me to play with him, I refused and suddenly they were both hold me down. I did my best to fight them but there was two of them and they were too strong for me and Jack put his fingers in my mouth to stop me from screaming. I again tried to bargain with them, mentioned being a virgin and not wanting them to take my virginity. To which John said that if I didn’t want them to penetrate my virgina there was still my anus. I ended up being anally raped by both of them and once it was over John lay by the door and Jack fell asleep on the bed.
I was so hurt and confused, I found myself chatting to John as I was scared of him going to sleep. The things he told me and how he tried to blame everything on me. I remember trying to send a message but John took the battery out of my phone. Finally there was a phone call and suddenly we had to leave, the room was a mess and I remember asking them if we mustn’t clean up as the room was a mess with tissues everywhere. John’s response was ‘I paid a lot for this room…’ A lot of other things were said including John telling me that if I ever needed anything I just needed to ask.
I was left at Park Station with R7 to catch a train to Krugersdorp, but instead I called a friend who took me to the Yusuf Dadoo hospital in Krugersdorp. It was at the hospital that the police were called and I laid a charge against both John and Jack. They were arrested the same day and I was left to deal with everything that had happened.
Due to the length and detail of my story I will be writing it in parts with one part a week, so please read next week to find out what happened and how I managed to deal with it.
How I Survived Rape- Part 2
By Corey Spengler-JHB West Krugersdorp
After leaving me John sent me a message asking me ‘how much money I needed and for my address to send my birthday gifts’ that they had promised me the previous night while still at Stones. I was really upset by the message as by taking any money from them it would make me feel like a prostitute who willingly gave them sex in exchange for money.
The words ‘secondary victimisation’ meant nothing to me until that day I lay on the doctors table and listened to the Doctor explaining to the nurse why mine was rape and how regular anal sex affects the body. I was so happy to have the examination over and be allowed to put my clothes back on, I remember feeling very strange. I had not fully comprehended that the previous night was a reality and not a dream and that I had not woken up in my own bed as I had found myself wishing I would. I had my blood taken for the HIV/AIDS test and then started to give my statement to the police officer (women), who decided to go and arrest the two guys and the hospital agreed to let me come back for the results and all my medication. I had a vague idea as to where their offices where, we drove around for a bit and finally I found it.
The police officer went inside and called me in to identify Jack, John wasn’t at work that day so we need to go to his house. The backup police officers were taking too long so I agreed to let Jack accompany us to John’s house and it was lucky that we did as the address on his work records was incorrect and Jack directed us to John’s house. At John’s house his wife answered the door and told the police officer that he wasn’t as home but had gone to the shops. The police officer asked her to phone him and his phone was heard ringing inside the house and John was found hiding under the bed.
I was called in to identify him and the fact that he was married was a big shock to me as I had not been aware of it. The backup police arrived and both guys were taken to the Sophiatown Police Station where I also went to finish giving my statement. It was so strange to see John’s family with his wife; I knew his family and his sister recognised me immediately. His wife was quick to ask me why I was doing this and my response without thinking was “so that he doesn’t do this to someone else.” I felt so sorry for her being married to a man who could do something like this. We went back to the Yusuf Dadoo Hospital where it was confirmed that I was HIV negative and I was given my first course of anti-retrovirals which I would need to collect once a week for four weeks. I remember the first week like it was yesterday, and the small things that got me through that week.
The Monday after the incident happened I had to go to varsity to hand in an assignment, I remember walking down the road from the Train Station feeling that everyone was looking at me and that they could see how dirty I was. On entering Wit University I went straight to a friend who worked there and she gave me a hug and I told her what happened and broke down into a flood of tears. I was hurting so much and didn’t know how to deal with it but telling someone freed me from the voices in my head and at that moment I realised the freedom of letting it out.
I needed somewhere to go as I was hurting and didn’t want to be alone so I went to go and see some friends from the Student Christian Organisation (SCO) and they were shocked to hear what had happened. The week ahead was a varsity break and there was an SCO camp planned for the first three days, I wasn’t going to go as I had a big varsity assignment to do. My friends knew I wasn’t going to be able to do any varsity work and insisted on me going on the camp. The camp was amazing and I realised that it was God’s way of giving me a place to go – a place where I could be surrounded by people who cared about me. I came home on the Wednesday and I remember the emptiness of my room surrounding me, I remember how the reality of everything came back to me. I remember not wanting to look at myself in the mirror as I in many ways hated what I saw, I knew I had not done of the things I did willingly but the reality was that it was still me that did them.
There were many things that happened that week and many emotions that I had to deal with and on top of it all I didn’t feel well. The first few days I battled to eat and the anti-retrovirals weren’t helping much as they killed all the cells in my body whether good or bad. I lost 10 kg in that first week and my clothes did not fit me. I had a lot of support during the first few weeks and I had so many people praying for me and this really helped me through. Even so I found myself crying a lot and more often than not battling to keep up with my varsity work. For the first time I was applying for extensions and thankfully my lecturers where very supportive.
My mom bought me a 1500 piece puzzle at a flea market she went to and I spend hours building this puzzle and found that for those moments my mind stopped thinking. Another thing that really helped was when a friend of mine took me to a lady who broke the soul ties that the two guys had created with me. She also sent me home to shower with grape juice as a symbol of the blood of Jesus. I can’t explain what she did but when I left it felt like the chains had been removed and I felt a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt since the event took place and most importantly I no longer hated myself. While this was a huge milestone in my journey to becoming a survivor it did not take away all the pain I was still going to feel regarding what had taken place.
I managed to move on with my life as best as I could and I started to accept the fact that my case was never going to go to court as almost a year had past. However to my surprise about a year after the incident I received a call to go and collect my summons to court. I felt this one phone call undo all the healing I had done in the last year and begin my new process of healing. I had to face my demons again and had to face seeing both John and Jack every three months for almost three years before the court case was finalised.
While writing this it felt so unreal and a part of me still cannot believe that all happened to me and I am still here to tell the tale. During the first year after it happened it was my faith in God, the people praying for me and my friends that helped me through and I will be eternally grateful to everyone that was there for me. I also found my own coping mechanism and ways of forgetting even if it was only for a short period. Next week I will look at how the court case took place and how I fell apart but in the end was able to testify against them in court and through the process I received a level of healing.
How I survied Rape-Part 3
By Corey Spengler-JHB West Krugersdorp
I look back and while those first few weeks after the rape where the worst time in my life I found that with the support I had from family and friends I was able to get through it. I was able to go on with my life and find my own ways of coping with what had happened to me and I convinced myself that it would never get to court. About a full year had gone by and I was or I convinced myself I was ok to let it go and that if it never went to court it was also ok. I think a big part of me was glad that I would never have to go through the court process as from what I had heard it wasn’t an easy thing to go through. Then one day out of the blue I got a phone call to come and collect my summons to court. This disrupted my life and I did not want to have to deal with it again but I wasn’t given much of a choice – I had laid the charges and I did it knowing I would have to one day testify in court.
The court process took a few years as it got postponed for various reasons and each time it was postponed a new date would be set for three months later. The inspecting officer had not done his job properly and as a result possible evidence had been lost. Over a year into my court case my state prosecutor took on a new job in Graham’s town and my case was almost thrown out of court. If it had not been for my new prosecutor being prepared to take on my case it would have been thrown out. I don’t think anybody wanted to fight a case of anal rape under a charge of indecent assault where the big question was around the issue of consent. As with all rape cases it would be my work against theirs even though there was semen linking one of the suspects to having had sexual intercourse with me.
I remember coming to court every time so stressed out that I had made myself sick however over the months of my court case I did find renewed strength. God was amazing to me over this time and by the time I did testify in court I was in a much better position to do so. The day eventually came for the verdict and to my relief they were both found guilty but this did not prepare me for the day of sentencing where the magistrate noted that ‘if it had not been for the alcohol it would not have happened.’ In turn the magistrate gave them both three years house arrest. This was something I battled to accept on the day as it meant that because they had a few beers and they gave me Smirnoff spins it justified them raping me. They celebrated their victory while I walked out there in tears, by this point in my court case everyone had stopped coming and I had come to see the sentencing all on my own.
That was a point in my life where I felt broken and lost without any where to turn to. I just wanted to disappear I didn’t want to be seen by anyone, I was a failure as I had been unable to prove that these guys has knowingly raped me as part of their sick plan. As I am writing this I remember how I felt on that day, how alone I felt. This would have to have been the worst day of my whole journey to becoming a survivor. Looking back today I am glad that I endured through with the court case and that I stood firm and never gave up.
Even though the sentencing had left me feeling broken, it was in so many ways a relief that it was finally over and I would be able to go on with my life finally after between three to four years of my life being defined by the court case. I would no longer need to see the two guys again and thankfully I have not seen them since that last day in court. A rape journey can become a very lonely one, in the beginning people give of their time and energy to ensure that you are ok but as the time passes they go on with their lives and it remains your burden. As the rape survivor you need to deal with the event and this can take years and the support you have will dwindle over the years as people forget an event which you are unable to forget. Even seven after the event writing this did bring a few tears to my eyes as even though I think I have dealt with it I am unable to remember the event without feeling the same pain I felt back then.