“I CHOSE BETWEEN LIVING & BEING RAPED”
Almost 18 years ago, I was attacked and raped on the way home from work.
It’s a memory that lives within me constantly, even many years later. And during weeks like this it seems just yesterday.
I could tell you what time of day it was, what I was wearing, why I was alone and the precautions I didn’t take.
I could tell you all that because almost everyone who knew of the attack – friends, family, the police, my workplace – all asked those questions. Indeed, sometimes I felt obligated to explain that I was wearing a navy business suit; that I was rushing to pick up my kids from after-school care. That I was a responsible mother; a business woman. Not a tart. Not asking for it.
And confess, now you have read that I was sober and dressed conservatively, you respect me just a little bit more.
But I am sure you have theories and advice. I have heard it all.
Apparently I should have read The North Shore Times more carefully, because one local friend told me that “everyone knew that was a dangerous railway station”. I must have been away the day the warning went out …
I didn’t know the man, but clearly he felt it was partly my fault because I looked like his ex-wife – as did his 10 other victims. I knew I should not have had blonde, shoulder-length hair.
Of course, I could have gouged him with the keys in my hand (another useful tip I was told about later), but strangely the machete he held at my throat made that hard.
Or perhaps it was the fact that he bound my hands and gagged my mouth.
I promise that I didn’t lead him on. I screamed, but no one heard. I did what some people have been suggesting that women should do and kicked him in the balls, but at 160cm (and he was about 175cm), I didn’t have a good reach.
And that was when he put the machete at my throat and I had to choose between living and being raped. For a few years afterwards I was not sure I made the right choice.
But now I know – IT WASN’T MY FAULT. All women should be able to walk down a street early or late at night, drunk or sober, wearing whatever they feel like and not be attacked.
I was not to blame. And neither is Jill Meagher.
If this story brings up difficult issues for you, call the Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424017 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
An estimated 30,000 people marched three kilometres along Sydney Road in Melbourne at the weekend to honour the memory of Jill Meagher.
Carrying signs and leaving floral tributes, many spoke of a resolve to ensure fear would not triumph and that an incident like Jill’s devastating murder would not happen again.
Photograph via The Herald Sun. An unknown graffiti artist leaves a tribute to Jill Meagher on a laneway wall. Image via The Herald Sun.