Warning: Some readers may find this article distressing
A woman who was raped in her own bed hours after losing her virginity says she will not let the sexual assault define her. Before her attacker was jailed, she penned a powerful victim impact statement and has given the Herald permission to run it in full. This is her story.
She woke to a man having sex with her.
She called out his name; the man stayed silent, but the woman thought it was her friend who she'd lost her virginity to earlier in the evening.
It was only after the man was done that the blinds fluttered, letting light into her dark bedroom and the woman saw it was someone else. She was distraught.
Her attacker fled but she pressed charges and he was later jailed for two counts of sexual violation, one by rape and the other of unlawful sexual connection, and one charge of indecent assault.
In November 2015, the 25-year-old decided it was time to have sex for the first time and her friend John* was the person she wanted to do it with.
So when she and her flatmate had a small party in the garage of their Auckland home, she was sure to invite him.
He asked to bring his workmate, Mape Ngaurimu Nikara.
About 1am, the woman and John carved off to her bedroom for about an hour and had consensual sex.
The pair rejoined the group and continued to chat and party before everyone went their separate ways.
But just before the woman went to bed, she shared a cigarette with Nikara - he groaned, stared at her leg and touched it. It made her feel uneasy.
She asked John to keep her company in her bedroom to make her feel safe.
About 4am, she awoke when someone started having sex with her. It was pitch black and she thought it was John.
The woman called out her friend's name, about six times, but the man stayed silent.
After he was finished, he moved to the edge of the bed and covered himself with the duvet while the woman went to the toilet, all the time believing she'd just had sex with her friend.
When she crawled back into bed, the man tried to have sex with her again but she moved the sheet between them to create a barrier. This caused the roman blind to flutter, flooding the room with light.
It was not John beside her, but Nikara.
Distressed, she ran from her room to her flatmate's to tell her and John what had happened.
As she explained, they heard the side gate open, then a screech of tyres as Nikara fled.
After he was arrested, Nikara told police he couldn't remember anything after getting to the party but later admitted his actions and pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual violation, one by rape and the other of unlawful sexual connection, and one charge of indecent assault.
His lawyer, Paul Heaslip, said during sentencing at the Auckland District Court last November that Nikara recognised "he took advantage of a situation and thereby caused harm".
Judge Evangelos Thomas said while he could give Nikara a "very generous" discount of 25 per cent for his guilty plea, he couldn't give anything further for remorse.
Nikara was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for both sexual violation charges and two years for the indecent assault to be served concurrently, leaving an end sentence of six years.
* Name has been changed to protect the victim.
I am better than you and what you did
- The woman's statement
I am torn between writing this statement or not.
Reason being I don't want to give you anymore of myself than (you) had already stolen from me in (my) body.
And the thought of mine, my friends' and my family's sufferings (by his doing) being read aloud and potentially giving you satisfaction ... well it makes my blood curdle and rage consumes me.
As much as I want justice for what was done to me ... I feel vulnerable exposing the level of damage I have sustained mentally, emotionally and spiritually as a direct result of the incomprehensible trauma from being raped in my bed and home.
On the other, if there is even the slightest chance that the person responsible has a conscience, well then you need to know the extent of your irreversible wrongdoing.
Just a couple hours before you raped me, your friend was the first male I had ever had sexual intercourse with.
You had interfered with my choice to decide when, whom and on what terms I was going to have sex. You violated the freedom I had over my body.
You took away from me my own control over my own self.
You raped me and, as a direct result of this, I went through delusional and panicked months of blaming myself, my choice, my friends, my family ... but we, nor I, did not put you there.
You had the audacity to commit this crime. You were the nightmare to become reality. And you are literally the monster to haunt my sleep. The reason I regularly wake my entire household up screaming that someone is in the room. I have consistent night terrors because of you.
What you did to me has held me back from so many things. I am a shadow of myself, I feel damaged and ruined because of you.
I have lost count of the days where I could not bring myself to leave the house, the meals I have missed because I just couldn't eat, the days off work "sick" because of panic attacks, the exhaustion I have suffered keeping myself up at night just to sleep through the day, having to resort to taking sleeping pills just to, and peace for just a few hours in the evenings, I forget how many times I have imagined this life without me just to save my family and friends the heartache of seeing me like this or to disassociate myself with what happened.
But what you did does not define me - and I will recover from this.
My hope and resilience does not mean that what you did will ever be accepted but I will persevere in spite of your terror.
I won't ever get to change what happened to me, I won't ever get to take back what you stole from me or the lost time where I could not find myself since being raped, but I will redeem myself from such a disgusting situation.
After articulating the result of your actions (which to be honest, not even I can do to justice) after trying my best to express what I have been through because of you - I won't waste a second longer thinking about this because I am better than you and what you did.
Do you need help?
• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline on: 0800 227 233 (0800 2B SAFE)
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Find a sexual assault support centre here.
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.