- Gender-based violence is a massive issue, but reporting your rape is not always feasible.
- We hear from three South African women who chose not to report their cases to the police for various reasons, including the law constantly failing women as well as the stigma attached to survivors.
- Here women share why they did not approach the police after they were raped.
'I was raped by my intimate partner'
I was raped by my intimate partner when I was 24.
I trusted him and, at the time, believed he was the best person I knew. But one night, I was drunk and he raped me.
I’ve been asked why I haven’t reported it and I have many reasons; I have no physical evidence or witnesses, the police will probably be less inclined to believe me because I was dating him at the time, it happened so long ago and he’s a white male so it’s likely that he would be believed over me.
Often these statistics are accepted as true because we don’t have accurate reporting structures. The TEARS foundation says in an article on their website called Violence Against Women – A Problem In South Africa: “Victims of violence are not effectively supported by public services and this makes it more widespread and discourages the victims from reporting.”
The stories below are proof of not only inadequate support from public services such as police, but also the stigma attached to being a rape victim.
‘My co-worker raped me’
Jameela Adamson*, 37, was roofied and raped by a co-worker at a year-end party in 2015 shortly after starting a new job in a new city. “There was an internal hearing and he was fired. Work initially offered me three therapy sessions but reneged when I told them I needed to take time. Because of the lack of support, I returned to my hometown without reporting,” she says.
Jameela says that she might have reported it if it had happened now since she’s a lot more educated about her rights and the processes surrounding reporting, thanks to her friends on social media, but she felt so alone and so ashamed at the time, she decided not to report it.
‘I was 16 and scared’
Felicia Johnson*, 28, was 16 years old when her rape happened. She blamed herself. “I felt for a very long time that I had asked for it. We kissed and fooled around and the next day when he wanted have sex and I protested, he forced himself onto me saying I was a tease. I couldn’t tell my mom about it. And many, many years later when I was able to go for therapy and actually say what happened to me was rape, I felt like it was too late to do anything.
“I was scared… Scared of telling my mom, of going to the cops. Scared of him. I think the process scares me now a bit too. Even if he came up to me now and I remembered him, I don’t think I would report him,” says Felicia.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact one of the organisations below:
Gender-based violence Command Centre: “Please call me” facility: *120*7867# Emergency line: 0800 428 428
POWA helpline: 011 642 4345
SADAG has a WhatsApp counselling line that operates from 9am to 4pm: 076 882 2775
To speak to a SADAG counsellor: 0800 567 567
Tears Foundation helpline: *134*7355#
Do you have a story to share with us? Tell us here.
*Names have been changed
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