Lizzy was doing her best friend, Kemi a favour when she attended a house party she recently had. “It was a private party where we all knew each other, she said. “I don’t drink alcohol and all I wanted to do was be in bed with a hot drink. Lizzy was a bit disappointed but she hugged me for coming and as I made my way to the door, Festus, one of the guests quickly got to his feet. ‘Actually’, he said, ‘I should head off too. Why don’t I walk you to where you take a taxi? For all you know, there could be some weirdos out there at this time’.
“I told him I was fine. That I didn’t live that far and that I’d often seen myself home from Lizzy’s house at hours later than this. But he wouldn’t back down. `You can’t be too careful’, he insisted, finishing his beer. He then hugged Lizzy goodnight and followed me out of the door. I’d met Festus before, but from what I’d heard of him, he was hardly a model citizen. Still, if my friend knew him, I figured he must be all right. My best friend had always been protective of me. Maybe she’d even asked Festus to make sure I got home Ok.
“I got a taxi easily and Festus jumped right in with me. When I protested, he said it was on his way and he needed to make sure I was fine. After a few minutes of awkward chitchat, I was relieved when we reached the house. As I got out of the taxi, he was right behind my back. `I’ll see you to your door’, he said firmly, `better be safe than sorry’. I insisted I was a big girl and he should just continue with the journey, but he hurriedly paid off the cab driver and ignored my protest as he walked me to my door. I opened the door, and told him goodnight in a no-nonsense voice. But he pushed me in and shut the door behind us.
“Before I knew what was going on, he turned and lunged at me. Suddenly, he pushed me unto the settee. I was so stunned at first I was speechless. Then I found my voice. `Let me go!’, I yelled, scrambling around and kicking him. But his strong hands clamped over my mouth, then round my neck. I realised he was strangling me. I knew I had to save myself from the brute. Frantic, I tried to push his bulky six-foot frame away, but it was impossible. Eventually, he climbed on top of me, forcing himself between my legs. I thrashed and flailed, crying out in agony. But the more I struggled, the more he hurt me.
“I thought the brutal rape would never end. Then out of nowhere, I heard voices – my neighbours were coming in. With all the strength left in me, I shouted thief! Thief! Ole! Ole! `Listen’, one of them said, `isn’t that coming from Lizzy’s flat?’. I shouted some more and they kicked in the door which was still opened, thank goodness. Festus staggered towards the door, trying to pull up his trousers. `She’s my girlfriend’, he said, his eyes wild. `We just came from a party’. But they were having none of that. They were the couple on top of my flat. The wife yelled at the neighbourhood guards and they came charging in with whatever weapons they had with them. They dragged him out on the street, stripped him naked and beat him nearly an inch to his life. The coward howled like a wounded animal begging to be let off.
“He was then handed over to the police who took him away. The following day, my neighbours wanted to know if I intended to press charges as the police was ready to charge him to court. But what good would that do? Lizzy was mortified when she heard what happened to me and had told the police Festus wasn’t her friend, that he crashed her party. She was full of apologies too when she called at my place. `I’m so sorry to have let that bastard walk you home. I feel so guilty. I didn’t know he was such a brute’.
“He told me Festus was still locked up in a cell with hardened criminals. Well, he was as bad as they were and I hope he stayed in there for ever. The bruises he inflicted on me came out in full force next day. My face was covered in popped blood vessels from the strangulation. I looked like something from a horror film. For days, I was terrified of going out on my own. I became so jittery and on edge some days it was hard just to get out of bed. Lizzy was eaten up with guilt and couldn’t forgive herself for what had happened. But I told her it wasn’t her fault – who could read the mind of a rapist?
Even now, I still suffer with anxiety and flashbacks, and I find it impossible to trust anyone outside my closest circle of friends. But I’m determined to move on from that awful night. I won’t let it ruin my life – it’s in the past now. I know there are kind, protective men out there. Festus just wasn’t one of them”.