Her face lights up as her fiancé hands her a cup of coffee. “I knew he was the one from the very first moment,” she says.
That’s why she accepted immediately when Jono van Eyssen (24) proposed to her on a beach in Margate in April last year. And you can see why. Jono is open and friendly, his appetite for life contagious.
This isn’t just another romance. Two years ago Jes was brutally attacked by four men. But she decided, even back then, she would never be a frightened rape victim.
The rape incident in March 2008 sent shockwaves through South Africa.
“I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anyone,” Jes says.
In the weeks after the incident Jes decided to talk openly about it. She wanted to be someone about whom people would say “she survived rape”.
“But rape is a crime in which the victim often runs the risk of getting the blame. The worst of it is victims are seen as damaged goods, less desirable, even less worthy of love or marriage.”
Jono knew about her history and was impressed by her courageous attitude.
“I thought she was great from the first moment,” Jono says, “But I had just broken up with my girlfriend of five years and wasn’t looking to get involved again. But one kiss and I was head over heels.”
“Jono was so gentle and loving. When I speak to other rape victims I tell them being intimate with someone you love can help heal you.”
She now works with other rape survivors at the Jes Foord Foundation, which she established after her rapists were convicted and received life sentences in 2009.
She and Jono plan to get married on 23 April in scenic Howick. Jes looks lovingly at Jono and says, “When my friends complain about their boyfriends I just smile to myself. I know how silly I sound when I talk about him, about how sweet he is, how special he is, but I can’t help myself.”
Read the full story in YOU, 13 January 2011.