Friday 8 January 2016

Activist Amber Amour Live-Blogged Her Rape Ordeal Minutes After It Happened [Photos] Viewers Discretion Advised

Note: This post contains graphic details of a sexual assault.

Rape is shockingly common-place in South Africa (it has the highest incidence of sexual assault in the world) – but Amber’s rape story was different. Not because of the context or the violence involved.

It’s different because she told her story on the internet, just moments after the alleged attack occurred.

Amber, a New Yorker who was travelling in South Africa at the time, had been raped at least twice before – including as a 12-year-old-child – which lead to her becoming a campaigner against sexual violence. She was taking her anti-violence campaign around the world when she says she experienced another brutal attack.

Her first instinct was to record her experience. She told Marie Claire, “It was almost an intuitive thing. I was still in the bathroom – in the crime scene. I don’t even think I’d stood up. I just typed and typed.”

Her accounts of the rape appeared with images on Facebook and Instagram:

Amber wrote her story on Facebook in graphic detail:
“It was only a few minutes ago but sometimes these things happen so fast it’s hard to remember all the details…. I’ve been sick for the past 2 days and today was my first day out. I went back to my old hostel to leave a note for a friend, Nick. There was another guy there, Shakir, who was desperately trying to get with me. I kissed him once but he seemed drunk so I told him it was bad timing, I had already met someone. Before heading out, I went upstairs to say hi to one more friend, Clyde from the states. Shakir followed me upstairs and said he was going to take a shower. He invited me to join. I said yes because the water at my current hostel is pretty cold and after 2 days of being sick, I just really wanted a hot shower. As soon as I got in the bathroom, he forced me to my knees. I said “stop!” but he just got more violent. He lifted me up and put his penis in my vagina. I asked him to stop, again, as I began to cry. When he shoved it in my ass, that’s when I passed out. I woke up a few minutes later and saw him trying to creep out the door. When he saw that I was awake, he came back to finish me off in the shower.”

Later she recounted that she had considered not being as frank about her experience. In a piece she wrote for Marie Claire, Amber said, “There were definitely details I could have left out – there were definitely details I wanted to leave out – but I knew that if I wanted to create a culture of consent, I had to tell the whole story, exactly the way it happened.” She brought that same unrelenting detail to subsequent posts about her experience. She posted about her decision to go to the hospital and police:

And then posted about the process of gathering any DNA evidence that may have been left in and on her body (referred to as a ‘rape kit’):

The reaction to Amber’s story was swift and filled with condemnation: she was naked, she agreed to a shower, she had kissed him, he was drunk.

Amber rape comments 1
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Amber rape comments 3 Some anti-violence advocates also questioned Amber’s approach:
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Amber responded to some of that criticism in her Instagram posts, saying: “For those who wish to BLAME ME or any other survivor out there, I want you to know that you are the very reason that I am so brutally honest. I could have hidden details. I could have kept some info to myself, but NO. You need to know the truth and to see the reality of the situation…I did this for you and I did this for me.” Amber posted a series of naked images to her social media accounts to highlight that nudity was not an invitation to rape, as well as updates about her whereabouts and wellbeing.

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On December 31, 2015, Amber posted an update about the case. She reported that police had spoken to a suspect:

“FINALLY the South African police spoke with the man who raped me last month. Predictably, he fabricated an entire story. He said that we planned on going up to the bathroom together so that no one would see us hook up. He never mentioned attacking me (obviously) but said that we had consensual sex but then he stopped it because he thought about his 8-month child and girlfriend. YEAH RIGHT. It’s not hard to hire an interpreter to read our lips from the security cameras to see that we never any of these conversations he’s talking about. And what about the scratches, bruises, and blood on my body? How’s he going to explain that? I’m assuming that his girlfriend found out about my original FB post and that is the story he told her. Some predators are not hard to read.”
On January 2, the man was arrested – and then released on bail.
I found out yesterday that the man who raped me was arrested!! And then he was released on bail for 1000Rand, about $75. I’m not dropping the case, I’ll let the courts do their job. The case is postponed until March 29. In the meantime, I’ll continue my humanitarian work here in Africa. Next stop: Namibia this Thursday!

On January 4, she posted about her post-traumatic stress she was feeling:
“PTSD is real. I have been in Cape Town for 3 days and have had insomnia and a lack of appetite every single day here. I suppose it’s normal to be on edge when you know your rapist could walk past you in the street at any time.”
Amber, a committed vegansexual and life-long activist, wrote in Marie Claire that she believes speaking out about rape could end the culture that allows it to continue:
“No man out there wants the reputation of being a rapist. And when we start telling each other about what has happened to us – be it face-to-face, over the phone or on social media – it creates a sense of shame. But this time, it’s placed on those who are actually at fault. And that’s the way it should be.”
She encourages other women to speak out: “Opening up about rape or sexual assault isn’t as scary as you think.”

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