Disclaimer: This article was based on the true story of a woman who was an actual rape victim. Names weren’t mentioned in this article to protect the identity of the people involved. Lastly, the woman in this article gave the author the permission to share her story, with the conditions with which the author carefully and properly handled.
What I thought to be just a normal trip was actually an unexpected journey towards comprehension to reality.
It was Friday afternoon and I was traveling back to Davao City. I was comfortably sitting on my seat inside the bus and beside me was a woman staring blankly outside the window. To break the silence between us, I offered the food I was eating but she politely rejected it and thanked me. I thought our conversation would end there, yet after few minutes, she started asking common questions I had heard from the people I talked to during my previous trips; I also asked her several questions, then, we started exchanging information. I thought it was just a temporary conversation to end the discomfort between us; little did I thought was we were actually connecting to each other. We started sharing stories about career and personal interests.
We were happily talking when there was a sudden silence from her after I asked her if she has her own family and children. I remembered feeling nervous thinking I might have said something offending. But she smiled after that moment and I saw how proud and happy she was when she said she has a beautiful daughter. We both paused and smiled to each other, then, a revelation happened.
‘Naa koy anak pero wala koy bana.’ (I have a child but I do not have a husband), this was her answer that surprised me. I was puzzled by the story she was trying to open up but I remained silent and just listened. She began by telling me that there was a party where her bestfriend’s boyfriend was invited and her bestfriend wanted to go. Afraid that her bestfriend would be left out, her bestfriend begged her to attend with them, which she agreed. She said it was concern and curiosity that brought her there.
It was a night party in a resort, a birthday party of someone she couldn’t remember anymore. Upon their arrival, her bestfriend’s boyfriend introduced her and her bestfriend to his friends. She said they easily got along with everyone because they were accommodating and chatty; she even immediately made friends with the people around. And as they were enjoying the food and the party, one friend of her bestfriend’s boyfriend asked them to join their group in drinking. She didn’t hesitate, knowing that she was with her bestfriend and she now knew the company she was with. After a while, when they were enjoying good drinks and talks, her bestfriend excused herself and her boyfriend from the group to enjoy the sea. She stayed with the group and the last thing she remembered was she was talking and laughing along with the people around her.
She woke up feeling nauseous, but what bothered her was the pain she was feeling down her body. Her consciousness kicked in when she saw the setting she was in: lying in bed, covered with things she had no idea at all, and in a room she knew was strange for her. She rose up and checked herself, and she was shocked to see herself in a dreadful situation. She tried to remember what had happened, but she was blank and couldn’t remember how she went unconscious. Right then in there, she knew she was raped.
She ended her story there and suddenly stopped talking. I waited to know what happened next but she just looked at me and smiled. At those moments, I was speechless and empty. I didn’t know how to respond. I was even thinking that maybe it was all a joke and actually waited for her to reclaim what she had said, but she didn’t. There was a long pause before she continued talking, and her next words hit me hard.
I was raped but the people around me were more heartless than the rapist.
This time, I dared to ask why and she continued.
She reported what happened to her but no one stood witness for her. Her bestfriend denied the case and covered what happened. The boyfriend didn’t surrender the name of any of his friends. No one mentioned who was the suspect. Worst part was, every person who knew what happened to her blamed her, cursed her, and denied her.
She was the victim but why did they twist the table for her? This was the question that clouded my thought that moment. I couldn’t get it.
She said her parents tried hard to solve the case but no one dared to help them. They were desperate but they couldn’t get any information. They couldn’t fight the case because their stand was weak, plus people were judging her and her family.
Next thing happened then was when she found out that she was pregnant. She said that at those days, she had considered ending her life; things were too much to bear, but it was her parents who encouraged her, fought for her life, and never left her.
I felt the pain as she talked about her story. I wanted to know more of her; I wanted to get into details but I did not want to sound investigating instead of concerned. My heart was heavy and I felt helpless.
I then asked her about her child and she answered of how peacefully they’re living in the present. Her parents sent her to a place before the child was born and helped her to start over. She said it was hard to move forward but she had to. She kept saying she’s glad she made it to live back to normal. I asked if her daughter knows any of her story but she nodded no. I wanted to ask why and how will she handle it if her daughter discovers the truth, but I realized it was beyond my concern.
Questions bottled in me but I felt the limit she was trying to deliver. We continued talking, but things were diverted to her profession and her current situation. We were quiet for a while but I broke the silence when I asked her last few questions. I was curious of how she made it to lift herself back and she said it was her faith. Then I asked her why she had to share her story; she only clearly stated that as a teacher she wanted to warn me of the things I do and of the people I go out with. She told me to take her story as a reminder to be careful about everything.
I wondered what truth lies behind her experience but I took her word that moment.
Upon our arrival to Davao City, we agreed of the things we had talked about. She assured me of the things I have no control of and shared her hopes of wisdom from her story. After that, we went on our own. she waved goodbye yet I could still remember her smile.
I couldn’t believe I had heard a story of a rape victim; I was bothered by her story; I was disturbed by her issues. But what bothered me more was the reality of our society. How did the community dare to do it to her? The discrimination was too much and was not acceptable. She was the victim, did they not get the point in there?
For weeks, I have been thinking about her and her story, and I feel bad every time I come cross to the thought of the things that had happened to her and to the realizations I have reflected. But her story teaches me everyday of the things I need to learn and for every day, I ask myself, is this the society I want to be part of? Is this the reality I want to live with? Oh, the stigma; oh, the people.