Monday, 29 June 2009

In Her Own Words

In my previous post, "Justice is Served", I directed you to a link in the Daily Mail which reported that the attackers of my friend, Sangita, had been found guilty. I saw Sangita at our debate club later that night and discovered that the Daily Mail had actually done her a injustice. She had written them a piece about her attack and instead of publishing it, they chopped it to bits and made it appear as if they conducted an interview with her. It's unfair to both Sangita and the readers of the Daily Mail that they did this. The original piece Sangita wrote was moving, inspiring and empowering to all survivors of crime while reminding all of us that no one is immune from such an attack. I'm honoured that she has given me the original article she wrote and has allowed me to post it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

BY SANGITA MYSKA, BBC News Correspondent /Presenter

I’ve spent so much of my career reporting serious crime, that it never struck me I might actually be a victim of it. On the day I was approached about writing a piece, for example, I was at the Old Bailey reporting the convictions of Ben Kinsella’s loathsome murderers (for the BBC).

The difficult task of talking to victims; visiting crime scenes and dealing with the police - was so familiar to me, that quite unconsciously, I’d developed a sense of immunity. Street crime was something that happened to other people. Not to me. I simply reported on it.

That all changed in March last year. I’d returned home late and was locking the car when two men grabbed me from behind. I was knocked off my feet, and dragged backwards. My neck was twisted so hard that another few millimetres and it would have broken. I was threatened with a knife, bashed up and robbed. All the while, Daniel Mykoo, whispered his threats and instructions with professional precision.

I had become, as some newspapers were to neatly put it, the latest victim of the ‘Strangler Robbers’.

I was easy prey: I’m 5 foot 4”, weigh 8 stone and was alone. They were the cowards and I was the victim. The only thing is, it didn’t feel like it.

Instead, for days and weeks afterwards I felt terribly, terribly angry – at myself.
I felt stupid for returning home late; weak for not fighting them off harder and guilty for putting my husband through the emotional turmoil that followed.

These men had robbed me of more than my wedding ring; they’d stolen my confidence.

I began to experience panic attacks. Everyday activities felt unreasonably risky. In the past, I wouldn’t have thought twice about walking past a group of ‘hoodies’. Instinctively, I now crossed the road. I avoided meeting friends in the evening; walking home after work and travelling on the tube after dark.

A few weeks after the attack I discovered, in a bundle of paperwork sent to me following the mugging, a number for Victim Support. I’d resisted calling them for weeks. I deeply resented the word ‘victim’ - I couldn’t relate to it. I was an independent woman who had every right to walk down the street without fear of attack. The only problem was, I wasn’t behaving like it.

The help and advice the charity gave me was invaluable. Everything I’d been feeling was text-book typical of the thousands of people who experience, for want of a better phrase, this sort of mid-level street crime. Thankfully, I’d escaped with my life - but that didn’t mean I couldn’t feel shaken by it.

It’s now a year on and Daniel Mykoo has pleaded guilty to being ‘the Strangler’ part of the dreadful duo who mugged me. I’ve just returned from 4 months travelling, almost entirely on my own, across South Asia. I’m pleased to say, that with the support of family and friends, I’m very much back – in every sense of that phrase.


mrsb said...

What a heart touching and inspiring story! I applaud her strength and resilience!

H~ said...

Yes she is an amazing woman! :)