I am an anti-rape activist, and I was part of the first 1in9 protest at Rhodes University in 2007. The statistic behind the protest is “one in nine rape survivors report their rape”. The remaining eight do not speak out, often out of fear or shame with being identified as a rape survivor.

This year was different. I decided I would not only not participate in the 1in9 protest, but actively avoid it. I did so with moderate success.

I eventually pulled myself out of bed at 7am on Friday April 15, and sat at my computer and checked my twitter account. This morning ritual was my downfall that day, as I checked the #1in9 and #1in9protest hashtags with a masochistic relish.

The annual protest had started, and I wasn’t part of it. I posted some of my own tweets of protest and dissent - my attempt at showing solidarity with the protesters. “#Itisrapeif you or your partner is drunk, drugged, asleep or unconscious. #1in9,” I posted in protest and opposition to the “#Itisnotrapeif” hashtag that had plagued twitter some weeks before.

That said you should never be so drunk/stoned that you act in an "involuntary" manner,” replied @Adv_AJ_Nel. He went on to say it would be “acting responsibly” to avoid getting too drunk.

As I read his words, my heart stopped.

Surely, the honourable ‘advocate’ couldn’t possibly know that I was completely drunk the night that I was raped?

I was with a close male friend, and I thought I was safe. I thought I was safe when I went out drinking with said friend, and I thought I was safe when we went to my place to “hang out”. I only realised my mistake when I lay naked and helpless on my bed, blotting in out of consciousness, with him on top of me.

I said ‘no’. I covered my vagina with both of my hands, and I said ‘no’.

But that’s not the point. The only person who acted irresponsibly the night I was raped, was my rapist. And anyone who believes a rape can be avoided is victim-blaming. The only person who is at fault for a rape, is the rapist.

There is no ‘checklist’ for how to avoid a rape. (Unless, of course, you are a rapist.)

I sat in front of my computer staring at my twitter account; staring at @Adv_AJ_Nel ‘s words with complete incredulity. And I felt my heart race. The blood rushed to my face and I wanted to scream with rage. I felt a drop of water fall onto my right hand, which was poised over my keyboard. Only then did I feel the tears on my cheek. “I can’t do this,” I thought. “I can’t let people get away with saying things like this.”

This is how I found myself at the cathedral later that day, in the midst of the 1in9 protest. And I re-claimed my voice, and joined my fellow rape survivors in solidarity.

Women24  applauds Michelle for speaking out, and for helping other women realise that rape is ONLY the fault of the rapist. We invite any other brave readers who want to share their stories to write in. (Please indicate whether or not you would like it published on the website.)