AN outstanding three-try performance by Jona Nareki saw the Otago Highlanders come from behind to beat the Waikato Chiefs 39-23 in their Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Hamilton on Friday.
AFTER almost eight years of silence, vivid memories and nightmares, Louise Louw can finally call herself a rape survivor.
Today she is the owner of a costume jewellery company at Rehoboth, and is ready to share her journey to finding hope again.
Louw only recently started sharing her experience openly on social media, and with family and friends.
She says she hopes to inspire others by doing so.
Louw says she was raped on the afternoon of 16 October 2013 about 200 metres from where she was staying at Khomasdal in Windhoek at the time.
“I was on my way home from town. As I was walking, I suddenly felt something pulling at my leg. It was a man lying on the ground. I felt myself falling. Then two other men dragged me downwards through bushes. I remember how my head hurt as it hit a rock when I fell,” she says.
Louw says she remembers how the men laughed at her, telling her they would rape and kill her.
“They said they would have fun with me. I remember what the shrubbery felt like, burning my skin. Little thorns pricking me. My hair was pulled. I remember how my voice was gone from the sudden shock, and that I couldn't scream. I could only whisper and say 'please, no'. I knew I cried, because my face was wet.”
Louw says although the rape happened years ago, she still remembers it clearly.
“I still recall how the three men were arguing among themselves about who would have the next round, while the one on top of me kept laughing in my face,” she says.
She says her nightmare finally ended when a group of men passed by and scared her attackers off.
“I remember how I stood up and stumbled home. At home my boyfriend and mother were there. My mom called my dad, and it was only when he came to me that I could cry.”
Louw says they went to a hospital, but was told to wait because her case was “not that serious”.
She says after receiving no help they left and went home.
“The following morning I went to Rehoboth to see a doctor. They did the rape kit, but since I had washed myself, they could not collect DNA,” she says.
At the local hospital she was given medication and told to register a case with the police in Windhoek.
“I came to Windhoek, but the police told me they couldn't do much, as I couldn't identify the men who raped me. It became a cold case,” she says.
During the time she needed the support of her loved ones the most, she says.
Her relationship with her boyfriend, however, did not survive.
“He told me he couldn't get the picture that I had sex with another man out of his mind. I had to go through this trauma, and the man who was supposed to love me couldn't support me. It was devastating,” she says.
Louw says she still feels unsafe and often has nightmares – especially since the prepetrators are free.
“Sometimes I revel in the thought that they may be dead,” she says.
She eventually realised she had to “let go”, and joined the 'Love Yourself' campaign.
“It has not been easy to forgive and forget, but I needed to in order to live. I lived in my head. I have a few good friends and my daughters to thank for helping me get over my depression. At the 'Love Yourself' campaign, we became sisters and helped each other through our traumas,” she says.
Louw says speaking out was not easy at first.
“I have learnt that each time I speak, it gets easier and I feel freer. If I could at least help one person through my story, it would be enough for me. I do not see myself as a victim of rape. I see myself as a survivor. I am not saying it goes away, but I have learnt to live with it. I have learnt to love, live and laugh again,” she says.
Louw says designing jewellery has helped her overcome this dark time in her life.
She is the owner of LCAH Handmade Costume Jewellery.
“Playing with beads and making beautiful things is a remedy. It helps keep my mind at peace.”
Louw launched her first Valentine's Day collection on 1 February last year, and recently launched another.
“There are earrings with silver hearts and red beads. I have made Bible bookmarks in various-coloured leather strips with wooden crosses and angels to protect precious scriptures. I have made necklaces with beads, chains and leather, and different bracelets and anklets.”
Louw said she can't remember the case number, and attempts by her mom to find it among her things at home proved futile, hence the police were not approached for comment on the status of the case.
Lavinia Haimbodi, the deputy director at Monica Gender Equality, Human Rights and Social Justice, says many people are not aware that it is their right to enquire about their case.
“Yes, it is true that cases do take long, but ask for the investigating officer's contact details and follow up about your case as often as you feel like it. It is your right to know what is going on with your case,” Haimbodi said.
He added that rape victims should be persistent when it comes to seeking medical assistance and should report nurses to the police who refuse to attend to them.
@rineldamouton on social media or firstname.lastname@example.org
Entertainment journalist at The Namibian