Adrian Frater, News Editor
It is almost like déjà vu for Alecia - the same community, similar circumstances and an equally despicable act - raped and brutalised by heartless criminals.
The slight difference this time around is that Alecia is not the victim; she is one of the many persons who are horrified by Monday night's brutal rape of five females, including an eight-year-old child, by two gunmen just a mile away from where she had her brutish experience.
On a quiet Friday evening five years ago, Alecia walked through the gate of her yard. The twilight was just about giving way to the darkness. All she wanted to do was grab a quick shower, watch some television and relax.
Her thoughts were abruptly broken by a commanding voice from her darkened backyard.
"Hey gal! Don't move."
She froze in her tracks as three men, all armed with handguns, walked towards her.
"I was forcefully dragged away from my yard and was gun-butted several times in my face as I tried to resist," recalled Alecia, who has asked that her real name not be used. "They made it clear that they were going to rape me and that if I did not cooperate, I would be killed."
LOST WILL TO FIGHT
Stunned by the battering she took from being gun-butted, Alecia steadily lost her will to fight. The men stopped dragging her when they reached a heavily wooded area some 200 metres from her home.
"They took turns raping me, cutting short my protest with punches," said Alecia. "I passed out several times as they had their way with me … . It was by far the worst experience of my life."
When the assault ended, Alecia recalled listening in fear as the men discussed how they should kill her and where they would dispose of her body.
"I started to cry and beg … . I told them I was a single mother and killing me would destroy the lives of my children," said Alecia. "Thankfully, after a long discussion between them, one of them decided that I should not be killed."
Without any further argument, the men walked away, leaving Alecia on the flat rock, where they had brutally violated her.
"I managed to drag myself up and walk home … . I was covered with a mixture of blood and dirt and I was hurting all over," said Alecia. "When I got home and looked into the mirror, I was a total wreck … . Both eyes were swollen and my face was distorted."
Over the past five years, Alecia has healed both mentally and physically. Instead of allowing the initial trauma of the brutal experience to haunt her future, she threw herself headlong into caring for her children.
"It is something I wish had not happened, but thankfully, I have managed to put it all behind me," she said. "When I hear about incidents of rape, such as on Monday night, my own experience sometimes comes back to me, but I never allow those thoughts to linger … . I have left that chapter of my life behind me."
Quizzed as to what advice she would give to Monday night's victims, Alecia was quite philosophical, saying they just have to dig deep within and find the strength and courage to go on.
"They just need to realise that what happened to them was not their fault, so they should not blame themselves," she said. "They should seek good medical attention, follow up with good counseling and then allow their bodies, soul and mind to heal over time."
Monday night's victims, who are reportedly all members of one family, ranged in ages from eight to 28. Like Alecia, they were taken outside of their yard and repeatedly raped by their two attackers. The eight-year-old was admitted to hospital after her ordeal.
The incident has attracted wholesale condemnation from the Government, the Opposition, the Church and many other prominent local organisations.