Rape victim finds renewed hope

Durban North resident, Hayley Rautenbach, says she has found hope in the support shown by the local community after she was raped last month.
Durban North resident, Hayley Rautenbach, says she has found hope in the support shown by the local community after she was raped last month.

A DURBAN North rape victim is telling her story in the hopes of fighting stigma and being ‘a voice for change’. Last month, Hayley Rautenbach told Northglen News of the mental anguish she experienced after being raped by a man she does not know.

Her drink was allegedly spiked at a Durban North bar with the date rape drug, Rohypnol, before she was taken to an uMhlanga flat by an unknown man, where she was raped. She awoke the next morning, naked and covered in bruises, with the man smirking at her.

Since then, the 43-year-old said she has found hope and encouragement and was heartened by other women who contacted her after her terrifying ordeal who have been through similar experiences.

Hayley, who has been receiving counselling at the Jes Foord Foundation, said she has been carrying the burden of the violation and shame she suffered at the hands of her rapist. She’s learning now that her own path toward healing is riddled with challenges and contradictions.

“There was an overwhelming response from the community, with messages of support and other women who shared their rape stories who have been keeping silent for years. In a way, I feel like I’m in a stronger space because of their strength. The rape shattered my fairytale world and it was a huge wake-up call. I see the world through different eyes now, through those of a predator. I’m definitely more aware and alert of my surroundings,” she said.

“This has changed me forever, but it has also made me realise that by speaking up, I can be a voice for change. I’ve been trying to set up a support group for rape victims, as well as friends and family members of victims, since my ordeal. There is no healing without the support of those you love around you.”

The bar where her drink was spiked has since put up signs on the back of the ladies’ toilet doors, warning women not to leave their drinks unattended. When the newspaper met with her last week, Hayley shared a touching moment in her rehabilitation and healing.

She stood on the shore of uMhlanga main beach before throwing a stone with the word ‘anger’ on it into the sea.

“Part of my counselling and therapy has been a journey of rediscovery. I was told to carry around a bunch of stones, and every time I felt a specific emotion, I would write it on the stones. Metaphorically I was carrying my burden, and I was working through letting go of some of the emotions.

“Each time I was able to let go of one of them, I would throw one of the stones into the sea. This week I got rid of anger, which has been a huge part of the healing process. I can’t tell you how good that felt, just letting go of my anger,” she said.

Hayley added women who are rape victims should feel understood and supported, and she hoped to form a group to help other victims who felt like they had nowhere to turn.

To contact Hayley, e-mail [email protected].

Shiraz Habbib

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