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'Your life will never be the same, but it doesn't have to be bad' - rape survivor

26 September, 03:49 PM

Sharlene Rood, News24

When Lily Reed was brutally gang raped, beaten and robbed by twelve armed men during a house invasion in Malawi, in front of her six-year-old daughter and her partners's nine-year old son, her life changed.

"Your life will never be the same, never...But it doesn't mean it has to be bad."

"I decided that the rape of my body was not going to kill my hopeful, adventurous and determined spirit."

"I had a very unique upbringing,” says Reed.

She was born in Malawi.

"My father used to set up African beer-making companies. So we were always living out of boxes or packing," she says.

As a result they traveled throughout Africa, but her family finally settled down in 1991, in Cape Town.

"I was always very independent. An absolute rebel." 

"I haven't had an easy life," she adds. 

Reed was molested at the age of 3, raped at age 12 and left home at the age of 16. But despite the hardships, she says her activist heart grew from everything she had seen.

"I've seen high life, I've seen the poverty...and it really just instilled in me this passion to help other people. That's really what's driven my journey. Not just the journey of the book but my whole life's journey."

Reed says she wanted to instill the same spirit of adventure in her daughter. That's why she packed up their lives in Cape Town and headed to Malawi in May 2012. 

"I just wanted to show her a different kind of life - the kind of life Malawians live every day. I wanted to live off the land; I even bought a book on how to slaughter pigs!" she laughs. 

Equipped with a degree in psychology, management degrees in HIV/Aids and alternative medicine, Reed was going to make a difference in the lives of Malawians.

But then on August 23, 2012, the attack happened, derailing her plans. 

Today Reed, who has authored the book The Dark Seed (a book she wrote for herself on her own healing, but also to help other rape survivors), says she is grateful that the attack happened.

Watch to find out why. 

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