Belgian Rape Victim Revisits Sydney for Closure

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By Athena Yenko | July 29, 2014 10:01 AM EST

A Belgian tourist raped in an alley in Kings Cross back in 2013 re-visits Sydney to finally wave goodbye to her dark past.

In 2013, Belgian tourist, Kirsten, was raped in a dark alley in Kings Cross during her first visit in Australia. Her rapist was never caught and too shocked to continue with her trip she went back to her country.

A local of Kings Cross, Claudia, learnt of Kirsten's horrifying experience back then. She decided to gather the people within the neighbourhood and show Kirsten that they support her.

In 2014, Claudia invited Kirsten to visit the country again.

Kirsten was hesitant at first but then she realized she needed closure in order to move on.

"I'm a bit nervous, but it's something I need to do to get some closure. It feels like a reclaiming - like it's not his space; it's mine. I don't want to be defined by what happened to me... It happens to a lot of women and that's one reason I wanted to come back and do this. It's to be able to say you can go on with your life," Kirsten told SBS's The Feed.

The Past

During Kirsten's first trip in the country she was living a dream.

 "It had always been my dream to come to Australia. To experience the country and to meet the people. I was still quite jetlagged and it was still the evening. So I wanted to go outside and see the neighbourhood a bit. Then I guess I went a bit too far because I didn't know where I was," Kirsten recalled.

However, a man attacked her from behind as she passes Victoria Street near Potts Point. What happened next was the most terrifying moment in her life.

"I wasn't really aware of anyone following me. Out of the blue, I was pushed into an alleyway. He came from behind, so I never saw who attacked me. They didn't say a lot. They just said, 'Shut up.' I couldn't react. I was paralysed. Then he assaulted me."

The Invitation

When Claudia first learnt about Kirsten's horrible experience in Kings Cross, she felt "a sense of responsibility."

"When I heard that about 200 metres from where I raised my family, that someone had been raped, I felt very heavy. I felt a sense of responsibility. This isn't ok; not in my neighbourhood," she told SBS.

Claudia persuaded other members of the local community to rally about what happened. She then took a photo of them.

Kirsten saw that photo and said she was moved by it.

Claudia then reached out to her and invited her back to Kings Cross.

After some thinking, Kirsten decided to accept the invitation.

"I focussed on the people, I didn't see the alley anymore. It was like the first positive experience I had with Australia."

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