She has suffered, and survived, more than anyone should have to. Nicole Rademeyer Harmse was raped and fell pregnant when she was 14. The trauma of that attack prompted her to make several attempts at taking her own life. Years later she was nearly raped again.
Nicole (36) realised she had a greater purpose when her pastor told her, “No matter how many times you try to commit suicide you won’t succeed”.
Inspired by his words, she’s preparing to self-publish a book, Overcomer, about her healing journey. The book will be launched in November.
Nicole shares her story.
“I grew up in a very protective family. My father was a police reservist, and he was quite overprotective. In 1999, when I was 14, he had three heart attacks in a single day. He was hospitalised and in a coma for quite some time, which is when his police co-workers came into our lives and changed my life forever.
One of his friends offered to transport my family and I to and from the hospital. One day I had a school project to do, and with my dad being sick and my mom at the hospital, this person offered to help me. He asked me to come to his office, where he raped me.
His gun was next to my head, and he told me I couldn’t tell my father about it because it would kill him. He was already in a coma and my mother had too much to worry about, so he told me to keep quiet about it.
And I did, because I was so scared that I was going to lose my father. I didn’t say anything to anyone. It happened once, but I saw this man often, and before I even knew it he realised I was pregnant.
I had no clue because I was only 14. I was sick, and he told my mom he would take me to the doctor. When we got there, the doctor told me I was pregnant. It was the biggest shock of my life.
Then I was told that I was going to have an abortion. I didn’t get a choice and I didn’t get a say in the matter. This policeman was standing there next to me, and the abortion was just carried out, without the doctor asking me anything.
Because of all of this trauma I tried to commit suicide multiple times.
I was at church when everything changed for me. The pastor said to me, “God says it doesn’t matter how many times you try to kill yourself you won’t die because he has a plan and a purpose for your life.” That was amazing to me because nobody knew what I’d been through.
My life changed. I met someone and fell in love, and we were married in 2009.
It took me 10 years but I finally opened up to my mom about the rape. I told her I was scared to get married. I also spoke to my husband about it.
Then, a month before the wedding, I got ill and was hospitalised. The doctors found a tumour in my brain. I lost my eyesight and it was a very difficult time. Eventually the doctors got me on the right medication, and we got married.
I never told my dad what had happened to me. I knew he’d blame himself, and because he had a heart condition, I knew it would be too much for him to bear. So I chose not to tell him.
When my dad died in 2020 I decided to go public with what had happened. I told my family about it and I started writing my book, Overcomer.
The book is part of my healing process and a tribute to my father. All of the proceeds from the book will be donated to charity.
Overcomer details the many traumas I’ve experienced in my life. In 2018 I was nearly raped again while jogging in my neighborhood. I remember praying and saying, “God you need to help me now,” and I started fighting this person off, because I refused to be a victim again.
The book is a story of many things – it’s about the rape, it’s about suicide attempts, the betrayal of an affair, my brain tumour diagnosis and endometriosis.
The greatest lesson I’ve learnt is that your past doesn’t disqualify you from your purpose - it prepares you for your purpose. Everything I have been through has prepared me for where I’m going and the challenges I’m going to face in the future.
Women tend to think, “I’m damaged goods, who’s going to want me?” But I’ve learnt that your experiences enhance you as a person, you become who you are because of what you’ve been through. You have knowledge and wisdom that many other people don’t necessarily have.
There is life after trauma, there is life after loss, but you have to learn to live that life. You must make that choice to keep moving on. This is what the book is about, dealing with your issues so that you can carry on with your life.”