Rape survivor wants victim-blaming culture to change

Freelance writer Pamela Ng was assaulted after a university orientation gathering overseas. After being shamed for it by her hall mate, she was discouraged and never reported the incident to the police.
Freelance writer Pamela Ng was assaulted after a university orientation gathering overseas. After being shamed for it by her hall mate, she was discouraged and never reported the incident to the police.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

During a university orientation gathering overseas, Ms Pamela Ng was given a drink that left her giddy.

On the verge of blacking out, she stumbled back into her dormitory room on her own.

The perpetrator, a man who was a friend of her hall mate, followed her. And under the pretence of "returning something" to her, he got Ms Ng's flatmates to let him into the flat, and into her room.

He then raped her, said Ms Ng, who suspects the drink had been spiked.

"The doctor asked me if anything had happened, but I denied it. I was in denial for many months," said Ms Ng, a freelance writer in her 30s.

When she finally opened up and told the same hall mate what had happened, she was shamed for it, said Ms Ng, who did not elaborate.

Discouraged, she never reported the incident to the police.

Ms Ng also faced other instances of sexual assault and harassment, but she declined to go into details. On some occasions, the police had even doubted her account, she said.

Most had been committed by people she knew personally.

 
 
 

"It takes a lot for the survivors to admit that it happened to them; it's a huge leap, so the response is very important. But, unfortunately, the first responses I've had have been very negative," said Ms Ng.

To make matters worse, some people would even insinuate that she had it coming because of her looks.

"I've often been told 'oh it's because you're pretty, you're attractive'... For a long time, part of me was like: Wow, really? Is it really my fault?" she said.

It took her many years to come to terms with the rape, and an even longer time to find the courage to speak openly about it.

"I come forward now because the silence, shame, doubt and blame have to end. We can choose to shift and refocus. This is everybody's issue," said Ms Ng, who also conducts healing therapy sessions.

"We can heal this societal issue as a collective; as a community that can be better and one that believes all human beings deserve to be treated with respect."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Rape survivor wants victim-blaming culture to change'. Print Edition | Subscribe