This story is difficult to read. It is a true and tragic story of rape, told by Angelique herself. It's a story that deserves to be heard. If you think you might find this issue difficult, you might not want to read any further.
I was living happily with my husband in Pale. One day, toward the end of June, fighting erupted between two groups of armed men. That night, I heard them as they started to enter different houses. Eventually, they entered mine. I was with my two children. They kidnapped us and forced us into the jungle with seven other women. They made us carry their luggage. Eventually we made camp and they held us there.
Two days later I heard them speaking to one another. They said ‘why are we with women and not raping them?’. They took me by force then, ripping my clothes off and throwing them far away. They told my children to run. They started raping me one by one. When the fourth one started, my mind was lost. After that I couldn’t tell you how many men were left.
They came at me with so much strength I was almost dead. They left me naked, dying in the jungle, without my clothes. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think. It was like I couldn’t wake myself up. Much later, a group of female farmers found the seven of us laying there naked. They tried to talk to us but it was difficult to talk back. Nothing made sense anymore.
They carried us on their backs. Seven kilometres to a nearby hospital for treatment. The whole journey we were too shocked and scared to talk.
The nurses treated us as best they could. After one week, I was no better. In fact my symptoms were getting worse. I could not even urinate. I felt the wounds inside me from the navel to the genitals. After three weeks of treatment I couldn’t even swing my legs over the edge of the bed.
Next, Congolese gold miners took me on their boat along the river. I hoped to get better treatment in Shabunda. It took the whole day. We started our journey early, before the sun had risen. I was taken to meet a nurse who is famous for treating injuries like mine. I had terrible problems in my body and he helped me. He treated me for the whole month.
At last I found my children in Shabunda. They were weeping when they saw me. My husband rejected me when he found out I had been raped. He went back to his own family. I came to the home of my distant relatives.
Now, I live in difficult conditions without my own space. I am the one doing everything. The family I live with are very poor. [Christian Aid partner] Sarcaf helped me psychologically and tried to reassure me about my situation. They arranged for the staff of a tailoring shop to teach me how to sew clothes to make a living.
I pray to God that one day my life will begin again.
What is a refugee? The term has taken on a life of its own in 2016. Angelique’s story shows us that not all refugees are trying to reach Europe, as the news might have us believe. People the world over have been forced from their homes due to conflict and violence. This Christmas, we're lighting the way.