Sally vividly remembers waking up naked in unfamiliar surrounds. It was dark, she was covered in blood and lying on an ants’ nest. She had been brutally raped.
Her body was covered in ant bites and she was terrified.
Her last memory was being punched in the face by a man who appeared to be having car trouble and who waved her down for help on Kyle Street in Rutherford on May 22, about 5pm.
I thought he was holding a baby because he had a blanket in his arms,” she said.
“I pulled over and got out of the car and started to walk over to him.
“I stopped and went back to get the keys out of the car and he came over to me and asked if he could use my phone.
“As I handed it to him he put his hand out. The blanket fell to the ground and there was no baby. I knew I was in trouble.
“He punched me in the face and knocked me unconscious. That’s all I remember until I woke up on a green ants’ nest naked and covered in blood.”
Sally, not her real name, of Vacy, decided to share her story with the Mercury this week to warn other women about what can happen.
Two weeks before the town marks White Ribbon Day on November 24, Sally says it is important for her to tell her story.
“I want to make people think twice about stopping,” she said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about – I want to make sure no one else goes through what I went through.
“I’m too stubborn to let him win.”
When Sally regained consciousness it was pitch black.
“My clothes were scattered everywhere, my car was parked next to me with all of the doors opened and the interior lights turned off. I crawled over to the car and found my phone. I had a box of tissues near the console and they had been taken and my phone was left in its place. I locked myself in the car and called 000.”
Sally is convinced the man has done this before because the attack was so organised and that he may have had an accomplice.
She had driven up Kyle Street to shop at Farmers Warehouse and within a few minutes the man had appeared on the side of the road with the car bonnet raised.
“It’s physically impossible for one person to lift me, especially when I was unconscious, because I would have been a dead weight,” she said. “He was looking for someone; it was a very organised random attack.”
Sally suffered a broken nose and eye socket, as well as internal injuries from the rape. She also received blows to the front and back of her head.
She has spent 20 weeks in and out of hospital, had major bowel surgery and three bladder operations.
“I ended up with urinary tract infections,” she said. “The doctors wanted to catheterise me for two years but I didn’t want to do that. I have a bladder stimulator and I’ve got wires through my spine holding it in place.
“I’m not sure if I have to have more bowel surgery, it takes six months so see if what they have done is working.”
Sally is supposed to have an operation on her vagina but she does not want to put herself through another surgery.
“It’s physically too painful,” she said. “With every operation it all starts all over again. Everything is working normally so I want to leave it at that.”
When ambulance and police arrived at the saleyards to help after the ordeal she hesitated to open the door.
“They knocked on the window and said they were here to help,” she said. “I was scared and made them show me their badges before I opened the door.
“I was naked. I had picked up my jeans from the ground and had them over me.
“The ambulance officer brought out a blanket and I made them show me it was a hospital blanket before I let them help me.”
She wanted to ring her husband but when he answered she could not find the words to tell him what had happened.
“I still have nightmares and suffer from depression and I dream a lot of things and I don’t know whether that was what happened,” she said. “I don’t know whether it’s good that I was unconscious or not – I know what happened because of the injuries.”
Sally said it was not worth putting your life in danger to stop and assist a stranger.
“You think about being a good person and a good citizen and so you stop to help someone, but don’t do it,” she said. “Don’t be good citizens – most people don’t leave home without a mobile phone.
“Call the police instead of helping yourself. It’s not worth the risk.”
The man – who was aged in his 30s or 40s – was wearing a faded black t-shirt, jeans, blue shoes with yellow laces and dark sunglasses with a thick frame. He had a thin build, short light brown hair, a tattoo and was using a red 2007 Holden Commodore with a rear spoiler.
Sally wants the man off the streets so he cannot hurt another woman, but doubts he will ever be caught.
“There was a car driving in the opposite direction as I pulled over and a four-wheel-drive behind me. Those people haven’t come forward and that is disappointing.
“I’m not confident the police will find him – they have done all they could but I think if he was going to be caught he would have been,” she said.
Sally said jail would not give her enough justice for the crime.
“To see him go to jail would be nice – because it was a violent assault they are supposed to get 20 years, but these days they don’t get the maximum sentence,” she said. “In jail he would get three meals a day, TV and not have to pay anything and I don’t think that is fair.
“I’d rather bring him out here for a night and let everyone deal with him.”
Sally said the support that has rallied around her along with her two children and her husband have kept her going.
She has a lot of bad days and said it would be easy to give up and never get out of bed again – but she continues to take one day at a time and put on a brave face.