I previously published this blog post on my other blog, Brasilien-Bloggen, but I feel as it fits much better here in Yours Sincerely Sofia Sunden, so just for the record I am reposting it here so it can be a part of the Yours Sincerely – family! Read if you wish! Thanks for your time!
Nearly exactly a year ago, I had a bike accident in Rio de Janeiro. I was standing still, by the road, waiting to cross the road, when a car pulled out right in front of me. He looked to the left to then turn to the right, where I was standing. He did not look at me, and he drove right at me! It was quite bizarre as I stood there and saw the car coming, coming, coming at me, coming closer, driving at me driving OVER ME and MY BIKE! He drove right over the bike, me on it, I feel over, and the bike over me. It could obviously have been so much worse if either of us had had full speed. Now it was quite bizarre, seeing slowly the driver drove right over me.. !
I got stuck under the bike, but got away with bruised legs and quite shocked..! The bike on the other hand, was completely damaged, it looked like a giant hand had twisted the whole bike around and broken it..!
After the accident, the man offered to drive me home, I asked for his number so he could pay for the damages , he said he would since he had a friend who owned a bike shop.
Only that he gave me the wrong, or a false number, that did not work..
I was in shock when he drove me home. We were both mainly sitting in silence, me starring at the road in front of us. But I tried my best to make my brain function and thought of what I needed to think about, and I asked for his number, and I even tried to call it from the car, and when it didn’t work he gave me some lame excuse about lack f credit and living in another state..
Whatever. At least I was OK. And a bike is just material.
The day after, when the shock had eased, the bruise grown big and black, the leg was hurting and I was meant to go to capoeira, I felt quite annoyed at that stupid guy who drove me over and didn’t even pay for the damages he caused, and without thinking further I wrote a comment about it on Facebook. Along the lines of “Bike accident yesterday, driven over by a car! Bruised leg and broken bike. Feeling so lucky and grateful it was not the other way around!”
I did not think too much about it, I just wrote it cause I felt mad at the guy and the situation.
..I was not expecting all the messages that followed from friends in Scotland, Ireland and Sweden who wished me a swiftly recovery, and who send me positive energy and well wishes. And my mother got worried, and wrote on Facebook for me to call her!
Wow. I looked at all the comments in a real surprise. Wow! It was amazing to see how many people that cared. But what really astonished me was, that I wrote this swiftly, without any real consideration, the accident wasn’t even that bad.. not in comparison to the other accident I had a month earlier, also involving a bastard with a car, and me, that time as well I got away shocked and bruised, but feeling lucky that it was not worse than it was..
That time, the accident was an attempt of sexual assault, from a man in a car, a real bastard, who clearly had the intention to rape me. But none of that happened thanks to my fast capoeira reactions, my fairly strong arms, and a man on a motorbike.
In comparison to my bike accident, did the sexual assault attempt leave me more, much more shocked for a much longer time, and has left me with an inexplicable fear of taking taxis by myself, and at the time made me nearly punch guys if they were coming too close into my personal space (and since this happened just before the carnaval in Rio, you can imagine that I found that a bit stressful at times with all men happily invading your personal space for a dance or a chat..).
Why did I not write about that on Facebook?
Why didn’t I, the next day, write an equally mad and snappy update like “Rape attempt yesterday. The bastard had a car, but I have strong arms and know how to scream. Feeling lucky and blessed that the motorbike man arrived just on time, and that capoeira has taught me to fight stupid men who sometimes don’t know how to control themselves. Or obviously are too stupid and ugly to ask a girl out for a date! #fuckingbastard #dontjumpongirlsaskthemout #youweretheluckyone..Icouldhavekilledyou!”
Why did I not feel attempted to write this on Facebook?
And even worse, it took me a very long time to tell even my closes friends about this!
I immediately told the people I lived with, to warn them, since this happened on the road that we live, 300 meters from our house.
Basically, what happened was that I was walking down our road to get down to Lapa where I was meeting a friend at a concert. It was about 10 at night, it was dark, and it takes me 10-15 min to walk down the road to get to where I needed to be. I was late so it was the quickest option.
As I walked down a taxi drove by with the lights on like he was free, the driver slowed down slightly and ask if I needed a taxi. A girl walking by herself at night.. Taking that taxi could of course been a wise option as supposed to walking by myself.. but it was so close so I turned down the offer, and said “no thanks I’m walking”.
Thank God for that..
The taxi drove on, but about 50 meters ahead the driver was waiting for me again, the window still open and the driver said he could give me a lift.
I live in Santa Teresa on a hill and it happens where I live that you are offered a ride down for free since the driver usually gets paid to take people UP the hill and sometimes offer people to go down with them for free.
I declined the offer and said I was walking.
The taxi drove on and I walked on.
When I came around the next corner there was a car, a taxi parked in the middle of the road, with the back passenger door open. I saw the taxi, and at the same time, my phone rang. I didn’t have any bag (due to the safety issues in Rio) but had my money and mobile phone in one of those small money bags under my clothes on my belly.
I thought it could be my friend calling who I was meeting, so I pulled out the phone from under my clothes and answered the phone.
At the same time, I felt a pair of hands, grabbing me around the belly from behind, pulling me back..! Trying to drag me backwards..!!
WHAT THE FUCK!?!?
Since I had my money in the bag on my belly under my clothes, and I just pulled out my mobile phone from there, my first thought was that I was getting robbed. Thankfully my reactions were quick. I screamed out aloud, first in shock;
“WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUCK!??!??!?!?”
As you may know, I am a capoeirista. And as capoeirista you are often asked if capoeira is good for self defense and if you can use capoeira for fighting.
Capoeira is neither a fight nor a dance, but a mixture of both with acrobatics and music, which culture in-heritages are much stronger than the fighting aspects these days. It is certainly nothing I would recommend as a weapon of self-defense! But I can tell you this, I am deeply grateful for my capoeira skills and perhaps foremost capoeira reactions in this case!
As I felt those arms around my body pulling me backwards, I used both my elbows to PUSH right back and up, putting the elbows in the man’s body pushing his arms away, and with such force that in the next second my arms were right up in the air. I saw the mobile phone in my hand in the air as I was screaming; “what the fuck!!!!!!”.
Now in hindsight I think it is nearly funny, that in that moment I got all worried about my friend! I thought;
“Poor Ida! hearing me screaming down the phone!” so I pulled the phone to my face and said;
“Ida I call you back in 5 minutes!”
I did not say, “Ida, I am fighting with a potential rapist! I get back to you when I am finished with him!”
..which would perhaps have been more accurate..
How the events happened is not completely clear to me, it is like scattered moments in my mind, I suppose that is what happens when you are in fear and sort of, under attack, that you remember things like images afterwards as suppose to the full sequences. Cause I remember that Image of the phone in my hand up in the air, me screaming out loud. I remember shouting down the phone and the next image I remember is the face of the man who just jumped on me and pulled me back, I broke free so I saw his face, and yes, to non of your surprise it was the taxi driver.. The taxi driver which drove past me two times, and offered me a lift..
Who knows what would have happened next if the motorbike man had not appeared.
Who knows, but it doesn’t really matter cause he did appear, the motorbike man, and I, free as I was, ran out in the road and stopped him. The taxi was still parked in the road, the passenger door in the back still open. I stopped the man and was still too shocked to fully have understood what just happened. Did the bastard just try to rob me? How did he know I had the money inside my clothes..?
“What happened?” the man said.
“I dont know..! I think he, I think he..!”
The motorbike man had seen the open door of the taxi, which at this point was taking off and getting out of there. The motorbike man had seen the door open, and saw the taxi driving off..
“Oh” he said “well he obviously was trying to rape you”.
He said, matter of fact.
Hearing his words made me feel a mix of SHOCK, and scared and mad and most of all just shocked.. and slightly sick.. Scared to my bones. And mad. The body slightly trembling after a stranger just jumped on me from behind, pulling me backwards.
I could still feel the sensation of his hands over my belly, pushing me backwards. A feeling that came back to me a number of times that night..
“Where are you going?” the man asked me, and I thought of going home, alone, to my big house, or going down to see my friend. The second seemed like a better option.
So he drove me down to Lapa on his motorbike and the whole time I was talking to him, and trying to call my friend, and talking to him, all shocked and said repeatedly;
“He had a taxi! Like a TAXI!! A TAXIDRIVER!!! What a bastard! What a bastard!! ” and it was obviously not a spontaneous act, since the taxi stood parked in the road when I came walking, and he most have been hiding somewhere to been able to jump on me from behind without me seeing him. And the back passenger door was open. I supposed that he had prepared for pulling me in there.
“Walking by yourself..” the motorbike man said.
“I know.. It was just the quickest, and so near..”
“..and in those clothes..”
“yeah you know..”
“I know WHAT!? It is Hot and I’m wearing a skirt!” I got so mad at the man I nearly jumped off his bike!
“I tell you , I continued, that you are allowed to wear whatever you like! Even if I was in a bikini he was not allowed to touch me!!”
“Could be, but he just might find it easier..”
My heart and blood froze and I could hardly breathe by hearing those words. The motorcycle man had just pointed out, as a matter of fact, that it is easy to pull off a skirt, in comparison to jeans.. I cannot even begin to explain the horrifying feeling riding through my body, when he pointed out, like matter of fact that it would be easy to peel my clothes off..
..matter of fact, that it doesn’t matter what right I have to wear what I would like, matter of fact is that it would be easy to pull a skirt of..!
My body trembled even more..
I was scared. Yes. It was scary. Yes. And riding down the hill with a man that on the one hand helped me, but on the other hand just pointed out how easy it would be to take my clothes off made me feel so vulnerable.. And I cannot, cannot think about the taxi drivers real intentions, with the car waiting and the door open. Had he done that before? it was a lucky escape. For him as well as for me… Cause the next couple of days I still felt shocked but also so soo sooo MAD!!! Who was HE to think he could do that to me!?!?!
The lucky escape was HIS who drove off in his car, since I could have killed him !! That was how I felt.. but of course,
of course, that was a protection, knowing deep inside that the lucky escape,
I got away, shocked, scared and mad. But nothing worse than that.
I told the friends in my house, to warn them about walking our street at night, and to be careful with taxis.. But how can you be careful with taxis, when it is supposedly the safest option to get from place to place?
Now, one year later, I have been thinking about this again, and wonder to myself, why, why on earth it is so much easier to write about a bike accident than a sexual assault?
Why did I not share this horrible experience with my friends on Facebook when I shared my bike accident with my friends on Facebook?
And why did it take me a long time to tell my friends about this attack?
Because, somewhere, you as a woman, still blame yourself.. Shouldn’t have walked there, alone, at night..!
When in reality, the REAL issue is – HE SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT!! Jumped on a woman! With a clear intentions of abusing me, probably raping me! He was the one hiding in THE DARK and jumped on me from behind and tried to drag me backwards! and still.. afterwards I could not help to blame myself, to walking down my own street, in clothes that was suitable for the weather! Now, thinking back, I can not see why I would blame myself! But you do. Woman tend to, since we are all raised in a society, where it somehow, always is the women’s fault… for some unknown, strange reason..
This is not just an issue for social media and not wanting to share this on Facebook, I did not even tell my closest friends for a long time about it! I was scared and shocked and just wanted to forget about the whole story. And also, there was the bit of blaming myself for walking that street by myself. When the man on the motortaxi said it to me, I got mad, but still I was thinking afterwards about what he said, about walking by yourself in the dark. However, I am raised in a country, and have lived in various cities where a woman can walk down her own street without fear of being jumped upon by strangers. By the end of the day, clearly, he was the one that acted wrong, not me.
I don’t know exactly why these thoughts came back to me, perhaps because it is now exactly a year since it happened. A year since my bike accident, and over a year since that attempt to sexual assault.
The bruises from the bike accident are long gone. The bike as well.. Long gone.! It was never the same again, and I must admit that it felt like, I took it as a warning, that the next time, it could be the opposite..! The bike which is scratched and me who is broken, so these days I prefer to walk here in Rio, or take the bus, like most people.
And in regards to the sexual assault. The scares has healed there as well, mostly, cause I do still feel anxiety raising when I take taxis by myself. What I use to think of as the safest option, now makes me feel anxious and vulnerable and I can’t help it, but my hearts raises due to fear when I’m in a taxi.. (and I HATE that..! Dont want to feel scared..!) And I no longer walk down my street. Instead I walk a detour that takes me 30 minutes longer, but which still feels safer.
I’ve heard saying that if you are a biker, it is not a question about IF you have an accident, rather When was your accident? Was it bad? since it WILL happened! Perhaps that’s why it was not so hard writing about it on Facebook. And it was not even my fault. Some bastard drove in to me.
If you are a girl or a woman in this world, it is not a given that you will experience a sexual assault. But close enough to be a given that you WILL experience it sooner or later. Hopefully never, but our sad reality is that it most likely will happen, in one form or another. Or in various forms. For me, it is certainly not the first time! Never before have I been jumped upon like this, but numerous times have people shouted or whistled after me, tried to touch inappropriately etc etc. As a woman, there is nothing new in that, unfortunately and horribly, cause really it shouldn’t be like that!
In both my accidents, there was a man with a car involved, causing me harm, so it should be equally easy to write about it, right!?
So better late than never, here is my story about the rape attempt, together with my thoughts about why it is easier to share a story of a bike accident than sexual assaults on social media. Still, still 2016, there are so much blame on the woman attached to this issue. I know one thing for sure and that is that THAT HAS TO CHANGE!
At least I am finally sharing my experience and perhaps it’s easier if we all feel comfortable of doing that !?
Be careful out there, use a helmet, and chose Love not Fear!