by Nikki McWatters
At the age of sixteen I was almost raped and murdered. It was the Gold Coast. 1982. After sneaking out of my bedroom window I walked the three kilometres into Surfers Paradise, along darkened streets and the glittering highway to the rock and roll venue, Bombay Rock. It was late, maybe eleven o’clock. I was trying to work my way backstage to see ‘Australian Crawl’ play live. In my desperation to get inside I accepted an offer by a bearded man of about thirty who told me he knew a way inside. He and I clambered up over a concrete wall and crawled through an opening into an unfinished level of the building, a dimly lit concrete bunker.
As I followed him further into the building and came to a staircase with heavy doors at the bottom he turned and grabbed me roughly, breaking my watch and pushing me to the floor. I struggled and got out from under him and ran to the doors but they were locked. A rock band was playing on the other side and the sounds were deafening. I yelled but in a concrete bunker above a rock concert, no-one can hear you scream. I was cornered. He dragged me back up the stair as I pleaded and begged for him to stop and he began to assault me.
This was not long after the infamous hitchhiker murders in the same town. To say I was stupid to get myself into this position is an understatement. But my primal need to survive kicked in and despite my youth, in those seconds I grabbed for a defensive strategy. I could not fight him. He would win. I would be raped. I had seen him clearly. I was sixteen. No one knew I was not in my bed at home. No one would enter that part of the building for months. I believed he would kill me. All I had was my desperation to survive.
I managed to speak to him and tell him that I had only climbed up there with him because I had really liked him and I thought that he liked me and that we had something special. That stopped him in his tracks and he looked at me suspiciously. I told him shyly it was my first time and that I wanted it to be special and on the beach. He was gradually buying it. I don’t know how, but I convinced him that I would have sex with him on the beach because I liked him a lot. He helped me up and tried to fix my watch.
We climbed out of there and headed back toward Cavill Avenue. As soon as I saw a friendly face, I ran. The would-be rapist bolted the other way.
When I read about the St Kilda backpacker, who found herself in a similar situation last July and talked herself out of being murdered after being raped, it resonated with me. I was lucky. My attacker bought my story. No-one had taught me this tactic. It was instinct. Self-preservation. I was lucky it worked.
I did not report the attack because I did not want to get into trouble with my parents for having snuck out my window on a school night.
I have also been ‘date-raped’. After way too much to drink at a nightclub, I took a well-known musician home with me. At home we proceeded to do what people on drunk one night stands do. We had sex. But gradually it became rougher and I was no longer having such a good time. He held me down and anally raped me while I cried and repeatedly begged him to stop. It was agonising and humiliating. He left me bleeding and crying and full of self-shame and loathing.
I did not report that episode either. I was in my late twenties. A single mother. He was a ‘somebody’ and I did not want anyone to know. I didn’t want to talk about it, cause a fuss or be judged by people. I figured I had been drunk, I had taken him home and consented to sex. The rest I felt was just bad luck. I was a groupie. I didn’t believe I’d find sympathy from anyone.I do urge all women who are assaulted or raped to speak up because not all men are rapists. The rare one’s that are, are dangerous. Sometimes fatally. They have an attitude toward women that is hateful and they will take every given opportunity to hurt women. The more vulnerable the better. And they won’t stop with you.
We should make rape strategies part of sex education. It isn’t enough to teach boys and girls that ‘no means no’. That’s too abstract a concept. We need to assume we are talking to the rapists and victims of the future. It shouldn’t just be a biology lesson but a psychology one too.
Nikki McWatters is the mother of five and the author of ‘One Way or Another; the story of a girl who loved rock-stars’, published earlier this year. She is a Dispute Resolution practitioner and freelance writer. You can follow Nikki on twitter here: or visit Nikki’s blog here. To find out more about Nikki’s book, One Way or Another: The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rock Stars, click here.