At the end of last year, during her Stop Rape Educate world tour, anti-rape activist Amber Amour was raped in a hostel in Cape Town. The irony of the horrific situation is hideous.
It wasn’t Amber’s first experience with sexual assault. She was first sexually assaulted aged 12, then again aged 24, by her roommate in her home town of New York. The police dealt with her report appallingly, sending 8 male officers to her apartment – “I was like, ‘OK, I said the rapist wasn’t here, so I don’t need eight of you, and at least send one woman, please?’, Amber recalls. ‘I don’t think they realised how traumatic it is for a survivor”.
Worse still, one of the officers asked Amber if she was ‘sure’ that her rapist had known she meant no. “Maybe he thought you meant yes”, the officer probed. The court case was then dismissed, and Amber’s Stop Rape Educate campaign was born. The aim? To ‘end sexual violence against women, men and children by educating the public on rape culture, consent and healthy boundaries.’
Amber began doing chalk art – writing messages about rape culture and respecting women – on the streets of New York and what started as a therapeutic activity soon took off and her social media following soared with supporters. It was this that led to the Stop Rape Educate world tour, after asking her followers where she should take her campaign next.
Then, halfway through the tour, in Cape Town, South Africa, she was raped in her hostel. Instead of giving up and returning though – which, let’s face it, many women would have done – Amber did something very unexpected. “I immediately knew that I couldn’t keep what had happened a secret,’ she told Marie Claire, ‘Here I was, telling survivors every single day that they should speak up… I knew I had to practise what I preached. So the first thing I did was take a picture and write a post on her Instagram, describing what had happened.”
Sign up for the newsletter
Get news, competitions and special offers direct to your inbox
The support Amber received for the raw and honest post was overwhelming, and so she took the case to the police. Social media updates followed – an image of the rape kit used on her and a letter addressing the shame rape victims feel – and a post revealing that a month after the incident, the police still had not interrogated the man who assaulted her. “They have his number, they know where to find him, but they keep coming to me to get *MY* story correct. Excuse me South African police, am I the victim or accused? Because I can’t help but feel that I’m being treated like a criminal as the man who raped me roams freely…”
She has also been the victim of vicious social media trolls, who blame her for the attack. The comments are beyond shocking, especially those from women.
Amber’s attacker was arrested on January 2, but has now been released on bail for $75. She will continue the case, but has understandably cancelled the rest of the Stop Rape Educate tour. She is now focusing on a new campaign called ‘Creating Consent Culture’. Let’s hope this can open up the conversation and help to create a change in attitude surrounding rape victims.