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729 kilometres and a 27-year-long journey to recovery

What is the difference between a survivor and a victim?

Just how does a person recover from being brutally raped – left for dead, and waking up naked with your own belt around your neck?

How do you appropriately tell other people, who have been through the same horrific hell as you, that they too can overcome their darkest shadows?

The number 27, is very symbolic to Leilani Kuter.

Dressed in a bright yellow T-shirt – the same colour her rapist wore – and one of the most disarming smiles one could come across, Leilani describes herself in one word: Enduring…
The 45-year-old businesswoman and sport-lover from Roodepoort shares her incredible testimony of victory.

27 years ago, at the vulnerable age of 18, her whole world was shattered when a man in a yellow shirt forced himself onto her in her room and left her for dead.
Even though she reported the incident to the police and underwent the invasive medical exams, her attacker was never caught and still walks free.

Leilani explains how the assault haunted her for a lifetime. For ten years, she could not talk about that day, or what happened. Her whole life was turned upside down and for years she suffered from depression, underwent intensive therapy and had to take schedule five medication to help her process her trauma.

But 27 years after the incident, she is now doing something remarkable.

She is taking a 729 kilometre journey to shine the spotlight on survival. To create awareness under rape victims that they need to seek out help, and naturally, to raise R270 000 in funds for Rape Crisis Centres and victims of sexual assault.

27 km per day for 27 days, for the 27-year-long journey of healing and forgiveness.

“I don’t want to pretend that the journey of recovery is easy. But I want rape victims to know that it is possible. People who have fallen victim to sexual predators need to understand how important it is to get help! We don’t always have control over what happens to us, but we have a choice, at the end of the day, over whether we become victims or survivors.”

And the yellow shirt?

Leilani explains how her journey brought her together with other rape survivors.

“I met a woman whose attacker also wore a yellow shirt, and for a very long time after the incident, she hated the colour yellow. But we then created our own movement, called #YellowForSurvivors, and the yellow shirt is a symbol of how we refuse to allow our attackers to have a hold on our lives.”

Leilani’s trek kicked off from Pretoria, from where she has visited the back roads of all kinds of places, like Bela Bela, Modimole, Tzaneen and even our very own Middelburg. Leilani and her team travel from town to town where they stopped at Ubhetyan O Africa, to walk their 27 km for the day.

She and her husband, Roelie, along with a cinematographer, Gerhard Botes, are hoping to make a documentary of their journey.

They are now on the final leg of their journey and have headed to Nelspruit, from where they will head back to Roodepoort and end their voyage on Saturday at the Ruimsig Parkrun, where Leilani volunteers.

Leilani has managed to accumulate R218 000 of her 270 000 target, through crowdfunding by backabuddy.

To help Leilani with her cause and help her reach her target, visit the backabuddy site by clicking on the following link:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/leilani-kuter

 
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