Originally published: 14.02.14
In 2008, proud racist David Bullard was fired from the Sunday Times for a column wherein he denigrated black South Africans. In seems that, after the failure of his many legal matters against the Sunday Times and its owning company Avusa, Bullard found a new hobby. And that hobby is harassing and bullying rape survivors – and I get the special honour of being his target of choice.
Six months ago, Bullard wrote the following as a footnote to a column published by Politicsweb. In short, Bullard accused me of planning to blackmail my rapist; that I made up having being raped due a “fevered imagination”; and, therefore, was preventing the proverbial “we” from taking rape seriously.
I decided not to take the matter further. In the months to follow however, it appeared that Bullard’s rape apology and harassment was infectious and spread to comment threads around the web, as well as my Facebook profile. The Daily Maverick – which could once boast a stringent comment moderation policy – has a comment thread that can by-and-large be described as the pseudo-intellectual’s News24. With its fall from grace came Bullard’s misogynist and rape apologist followers, who quickly ensured the once hallowed halls of DM commentary was a lion’s den for me as a rape survivor.
I still didn’t take the matter further after Bullard began regularly harassing me about my rape and calling me Twitter’s “terminally unhinged” and “a few chocolates short of a box”. That is, until today.
I didn’t take the matter further. Until now.
The last six months have been a new low for me and my experience of living as a rape survivor in South Africa. For the first time since I publicly spoke out about my rape in 2011, I seriously regretted ever speaking out. I wanted to take it back.
For the first time, I was told that my rape, wasn’t rape. I was told I was a delusional liar with no credibility to speak or fight against rape and sexual violence in my country. I was told that, because people like me make up rape, South Africans couldn’t take rape seriously.
I wasn’t told this once. I wasn’t told this twice. I was repeatedly told in a variety of fora.
Why? Because I chose not to report my rape to the police.
I didn’t report my rape in 2010, and neither have as many as 1,5-million other South African men, women and children who experienced sexual violence since then. These 37 men and women have shared why they didn’t report. And others have shared that they did try to report their rape – while some of them wish they never did.
Bullard is trying his damnedest to undermine my credibility and, thereby, my work in the sexual violence sector as well as my work for abuse survivors in South Africa.
This is a call to arms for all right thinking people, including rape survivors, their families and their friends to stand up against what is nothing less than outright rape apology.
Bullard’s tweets represent nothing less than the hate and violence meted on rape survivors when they are not only not believed, but punished for daring to speak. I’ve had enough, and any decent South African has had enough.
Therefore I am asking that all South Africans that want a South Africa free of sexual violence and supportive of rape survivors to stand up against Bullard and his trolls. Stand up for all the rape survivors, both out spoken and silent, who have been affected by Bullard’s casual dismissal of my rape experience for his own cynical ends.
Report Bullard’s rape apology, and that of any other person who attempts to undermine the credibility of a rape survivor through victim-blaming, slut-shaming, rape apology and online abuse.
Michelle Solomon: I write about sexual violence and LGBT in South Africa, and especially focus on policy and law relating to sexual violence in South Africa. I also write comment and analysis pieces on public responses to rape, we well as political discourse around gender-based and sexual violence as a whole.