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Thursday, January 10, 2013

AdilanClub: S'pore woman shares about her gang-rape experience

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:31 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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SINGAPORE - He calls her "love" and she responds with "my baby".

She is, he says, both his mother and father. He is, she says, her light out of the darkness.


But beneath this love which mother and son share lies a sordid secret that few, except for immediate family and very close friends, know.


He is no love child, but one who was conceived after she was raped by at least three men. She was so drunk that she cannot remember exact details.


Not that she wants to.


It's a past that Alexis tries not to revisit, she admits readily in an interview with The New Paper on Sunday.


"I have moved on with my life," says the 49-year-old administrator and part-time security guard. Her son is now 20.

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We are not using the woman's real name to protect her identity, and that of her son. It is also against the law to identify rape victims in Singapore.

We asked Alexis to share her story in the wake of the death of the 23-year-old student who was gang-raped by six men in a moving bus last month in Delhi, India.

She agreed, if only to tell readers in stark terms what a horrific act of hate it is. And the impact it can have on a person.

For Alexis, the rape happened not once. But twice.

She says in a self-deprecating tone: "And look at me, it's not like I'm a beautiful or attractive woman.

"Who'd ever believe me, right?" says the stout, manly-looking Alexis, who today sports a short buzz cut.

She was first raped when she was 17, when "there were already signs that I was attracted to girls, even in secondary school".

"But I wasn't so sure yet because you know what it's like, going to an all-girls' school and how easy it is to develop crushes on the same sex," she says.

"I thought it was a passing phase."

But the first rape, which took place on her school's "prom night" - which was held together with an all-boys' school - turned her off men completely.

"After the prom, we went out for a midnight movie. Then one of my classmates suggested that we go to her home since her parents were away," she recounts.

"There were six of us, three boys and three girls, of which one pair were dating. We used to hang out together."

She says: "I think we got drunk that night, and the next thing I knew, this boy was on top of me and pushing me down.

"I was horrified and so angry, but he was so much bigger than me.

"He was someone I considered my buddy because I even shared my secrets with him, like having a crush on a girl."

In a tone devoid of emotion, Alexis says: "But he violated me. After the whole thing, he just rolled off and fell asleep on the bed.

"I had been a virgin."

She says: "The next few days were terrible. I was so angry but I couldn't confide in anyone."

A week later, the boy arranged to meet her at a coffee shop near her home, and apologised to her. "He said he was drunk and that he hadn't meant for it to happen," she recalls.

"I think I'd have forgiven him if not for his parting shot. He told me, 'Maybe now that you've tried a man, you'd find yourself attracted to a man and not a woman.

"He meant it as a joke and wanted to lighten up the atmosphere but it was an insult to me."

It took Alexis several months but she gradually put the "unpleasant episode" behind her.

"In some ways, it was comfort too, or maybe it was an excuse, but I knew I was never going to be interested in a man.

"I stopped wearing skirts. I dressed like a man. I dated women."

She says: "With each woman, I experienced joy and love. I felt needed."

But the next time she was raped, it was brutal and devastating.

In a cold, hard voice, she says: "I was much older. And who'd get raped at 28 years old?"

It was a barbecue at East Coast beach, where there were "many people and we were all drinking".

"This man started to chat with me about my girlfriend and he said he wanted to get to know her better," says Alexis.

"I was fed up and it didn't help that my girlfriend was also flirting with him."

She remembers "drinking beyond my limit" and getting "too drunk".

"I heard one of his friends challenge him to see what it's like having sex with a 'freak'.

"Until today, I don't know if it was three or four men, who took turns to rape me.

" I honestly don't want to recall the details."

Says Alexis emphatically: "If you want to know, I don't find it shameful being a lesbian.

"What is more shameful is how I was unable to overcome those b*******. That's worse."

She didn't know who to turn to.

"You see, life wasn't all that easy. I come from a large family - six sisters and two brothers.

"Our parents weren't well-educated and we always had to fend for ourselves. We spent more time worrying about money than being concerned for one another."

Alexis eventually confided in one of her sisters who encouraged her to make a police report.

"And here's the real tragedy," she points out in monotone. "The rest of the family didn't agree. One of my brothers was vehemently against it.

"He even said that it'd be hard for me to prove I was raped. He felt that the police, nor anyone else for that matter, would believe a lesbian had been raped."

Under family pressure, she backed down.

Says Alexis: "Rape is a stigma that not only victims have to live with, but also one that affects the rest of the family.

"Times were different then, I didn't even have professional counselling. It was really hard to talk to anyone about it."

Two months later, she discovered she was pregnant.

"I almost went crazy. I remember looking at the (pregnancy) test kit and screaming my lungs out.

"I couldn't decide if I wanted to kill that brother or to kill myself or to just abort the pregnancy."

She says: "I moved out of my home in the end. And I cut off ties totally from my family for two whole years.

"I hated every one of them."

She moved in with her female lover and many times during the remaining months, she entertained "many different thoughts of how to die with the baby inside me".

It got so bad that when he was born, she could not even bring herself to breastfeed him.

"I could carry him but I couldn't cuddle him. I just had to detach myself, so that I won't have to love him," she confesses.

But it was her then-lover who told her: "However bad it was, why not think of it this way - that despite being a lesbian, you have your own child?

"It sounds warped but I realised how true that was."

That was the turning point.

"It changed my mindset and the way I felt. My son became the world to me. I focused totally on him and I started living my life for him."

Around the same time, Alexis' mother also stepped in - she had heard about the baby somehow.

"My mother turned up one night at the flat I was renting and she just took over," she says with a loud laugh, a sound that is welcomed after nearly an hour's chat in monotone.

Her son was then just a month away from his second birthday.

"My mother used the excuse of celebrating my son's birthday to set up a meeting, during which my brother broke down and said he was sorry.

"His wife also apologised. She told me how he was really remorseful over his judgment call in the two years we were estranged."

Alexis did not consider making a police report then because it no longer mattered to her.

She says: "My brother also offered financial help. I knew it was his way of making amends, even though till today, I've not taken up his offer."

Her son, an NSman, is aware that he is "a product of an evil act" but insists it doesn't bother him.

In a separate interview, but accompanied by his girlfriend and Alexis, he says: "I only remember growing up in a big family of uncles and aunts, and my grandparents were always there for me.

"No one ever talked about my father except for the one time I vaguely recall my grandmother saying something to someone about the rape and how I came about.

"And to be honest, I was confused for a while because I thought my mum was actually my father and my mum's lover was my mum."

The trio laugh at this reporter's bemused expression.

"See? Confusing, right?" says the handsome young man.

On his 12th birthday, Alexis told him the truth.

"But it was a revelation that took me a couple more years to finally understand," he says.

At his mother's playful slap in protest, he says: "Hey love! Blame yourself lah, never make yourself clear. And hello, I was only 12, how much could I know then?"

Mother and son have a tacit agreement not to discuss his paternal link or past.

He says: "I don't think there's any reason to bother about it now. I don't ever want to search for any of them to verify the identity of my real father.

"It's pointless and who knows, he may even be dead now, for all I care.

"What I know for sure is that my love here is my mother. And my father. She's darn good at being both."

Alexis laughs as she hugs her son, the only hint of femininity in her gestures, and says: "My baby is a good boy. He's sensible and he has never given me a reason to worry about him.

"He is the light out of the darkest period of my life."

And he immediately replies: "Of course! We're each other's champion."
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