real life

"Let this message empower." After she was raped, Andrea decided to share her horrific story.

CONTENT WARNING: This post contains mentions of sexual assault and rape and might be triggering to some readers.

After a night out with a friend went devastatingly wrong, at no fault of her own, New York turned Madrid woman, Andrea Sicignano, chose to share a message of hope and empowerment.

“I am so incredibly lucky to be writing this right now. I am overcome with relief and even more with the feeling of a responsibility to share my story,” she wrote.

“I speak on behalf of anyone who has experienced this hell – and on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced. This story could have ended so differently. Things must change.”

In her now viral Facebook post, Andrea shared that she was raped by a man she had met on a bus, after she found herself “lost at 4am”.

A few hours before that, she had been with her friend at a Flamenco show. They had been drinking and got separated when they left their final bar. Andrea then found herself at the “end of the line” on the wrong bus which dropped her off in an area she didn’t know and with a man who “assured” her he would get her home.

She quickly realised the dangerous predicament she was in.

“It’s unclear exactly what happened next, but as soon as I started to realise I could be in danger, I tried to leave. But this man became forceful and violent towards me,” she wrote.

“He hit me in the face over and over until I couldn’t fight anymore. I couldn’t scream anymore. I could barely see through the blood in my eyes.

“I was sure he was going to kill me. Eventually I closed my eyes. With the hope that he would stop beating me, I pretended to be dead. I don’t know how much time passed before I finally opened my eyes, but when I did, he had disappeared.

“He raped me.”

rape-photoMadrid rape survivor Go Fund Me
Image: Facebook (Andrea Sicignano).
ADVERTISEMENT

After finding help, Andrea was immediately rushed to hospital where she was given a MRI test, rape kit and eye exam.

She was bloodied, bruised and scratched; her nose was broken in four place and right eye had swollen shut.

A few days after she helped police identify her crime scene and through DNA evidence, they found her attacker.

"This morning I looked into the man’s eyes and picked him from a police lineup. There will be a trial in the future, but for now, he is behind bars and will stay there until his judgement day," she wrote.

Although she acknowledges the perpetrator could have killed her, Andrea says there is one overwhelming feeling she is focusing on instead.

Relief.

"He could have killed me. In a puddle of my own blood, he left me in the dark - barely 20 paces from a main road. For all he knew I was dead. But I survived. I’m still here," she said.

Since her attack, a friend has shared Andrea's story on GoFundMe to help provide financial support with her recovery, as well as raise funds for sexual assault survivors. The campaign has since raised over $7000 in five days with people all over the world offering words of support. Similarly her original Facebook post has been shared over 31,000 times, and garnered 62,000 reactions and 11,000 comments.

Andrea has since shared her plans for the donations, and thanked people for their support.

"I want you all to know this money is not for me directly, but to help, educate and support other victims. Please know that a small portion of the money will go to my medical bills and the emergency flights that were taken. But the vast majority of this money will go directly to helping and saving the lives of other people who have been sexually assaulted," she wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

"From the bottom of my heart I want to thank each and everyone of you for listening to me and supporting me through this time. Your words are so powerful. Together, we can all make a change."

rape-photoMadrid rape survivor Go Fund Me
"He could have killed me. In a puddle of my own blood, he left me in the dark." Image: Facebook (Andrea Sicignano).

Despite going through this undeniably traumatic process, Andrea has one clear message: "I will not let this break my spirit. This night will not define me. I refuse to let this man strip me of my independence as a woman," she writes.

"How do we prevent these things from happening? We, as women, can’t. This is up to the men out there, who need to truly understand what it means to respect women.

"Women are not objects, we are not here to be taken, used, and discarded. We cannot live our lives in fear, we cannot let evil win. Let this message empower you, not discourage you."

If you like to contribute to Andrea's cause, you can visit her GoFundMe profile here to make a donation.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

00:00 / ???