I fought off a rapist... with­mykeys!

Tanya Clish, 33, was face-to-face with dan­ger and sud­denly knew just what she had to do…

Woman's Own - - Celebrity -

ike most peo­ple, my morn­ing com­mute could be a chore. My job as a sup­port worker meant 7am starts and be­cause I didn’t drive, my part­ner Tom* would take me with our lit­tle girl, Jes­sica*, strapped in her car seat in the back.

But one chilly morn­ing in Novem­ber 2015, I woke up at 5.30am and Tom was still fast asleep. Creep­ing into three-year-old Jes­sica’s room I smiled as I saw her sleep­ing deeply too. It wouldn’t be fair to wake them just to give me a lift to work. It would only take me 30 min­utes to walk from our home in Tyne and Wear.

So, af­ter kiss­ing Tom – gen­tly so as not to wake him – I tip­toed down­stairs. I pulled on my boots, made sure I had my house keys, purse and phone in my hand­bag, and then headed out the front door.

LTer­ri­fy­ing at­tack

I was only a few min­utes down the street when I no­ticed a tall, thin man walk­ing on the other side of the road. Dressed in a navy jumper, black trousers and heavy works boots, I as­sumed he was a labourer on the way to his job. But then he crossed the road and be­gan walk­ing be­hind me.

Sud­denly alarm bells went off in my head. There was no one else in the dark street and I could sense he was gain­ing pace be­hind me.

Pan­icked, I be­gan to walk quicker, but he was do­ing the same, get­ting closer and closer. I turned briefly to check ex­actly where he was but sud­denly he lunged. Grab­bing hold of me, he threw me back against a brick wall, clamp­ing his hand hard over my mouth.

I was writhing, strug­gling, but he locked his other arm round my waist so I couldn’t move and I saw his dark eyes bear­ing down on me. ‘All I want is a kiss, shush, just give me a kiss,’ he whis­pered, lean­ing close into me.

I could feel his hot breath on my neck and thought I was go­ing to be sick. I tried again to push him off but he was too strong. ‘Look at this,’ he said, nod­ding to­wards his crotch. I felt my blood run cold, know­ing now ex­actly what he was plan­ning to do to me.

As he be­gan to un­zip his trousers and ease them down, I felt my mind rac­ing. I had to do some­thing. I couldn’t – wouldn’t – let him rape me. Grasp­ing wildly, I man­aged to reach into my hand­bag still hooked over my shoul­der. My phone was in there, could I man­age to dial for help? Only then my fin­gers clasped round some­thing cold and sharp – my house keys! Sud­denly I knew what I had to do.

‘He be­gan to un­zip his trousers’

De­ter­mined to fight

Pulling them out and us­ing all my strength, I shoved the sharp edge of one of the keys hard into my at­tacker’s neck. ‘Aargh,’ he shouted and he stum­bled back, his trousers round his an­kles. This was my chance.

Pulling free, I be­gan charg­ing down the street as fast as I could. Grab­bing my mo­bile, I rang home. ‘Tom,’ I gasped. ‘Help, I’ve been at­tacked.’

The man had headed off the other way but I was too scared to stop run­ning in case he sud­denly changed his mind and came af­ter me. Turn­ing into an­other street,

I quickly told Tom the name of it. ‘I’m com­ing,’ he said, and within min­utes I saw our car head­ing down the road to­wards me, lit­tle Jes­sica strapped in the back. ‘I’m here, you’re safe,’ Tom said, jump­ing out and pulling me into his arms.

He’d even man­aged to call the po­lice and sec­onds later, sirens and flash­ing lights filled the street. An of­fi­cer came over and asked me to de­scribe the at­tacker. ‘He was tall and skinny and wear­ing a navy jumper,’ I said, with a shud­der. The of­fi­cer went back to his car to put out an alert but then came the news that a 20-year-old man fit­ting the de­scrip­tion I’d given had been ar­rested and charged with as­sault.

The of­fi­cer ex­plained that pa­trol units had al­ready been out search­ing for the man af­ter an­other woman had been as­saulted ear­lier that morn­ing. I gasped, hor­ri­fied. I’d ac­tu­ally been his sec­ond vic­tim. What would have hap­pened to me if I hadn’t man­aged to fight him off? I didn’t know if I’d in­jured him with my keys but I couldn’t worry about that. I was safe, and he’d fi­nally been caught.

Back home, the of­fi­cers took a state­ment, and my keys and clothes were put in a sealed bag for ev­i­dence. I was too shaken to go to work so I stayed home, des­per­ate to be with Jes­sica. She had no idea what had hap­pened but I kept think­ing how close I’d come to be­ing se­ri­ously hurt.

It was those dark thoughts that tor­mented me for weeks af­ter. I be­came

‘I man­aged to reach into my hand­bag’

fright­ened ev­ery time I went out. I found my­self con­tin­u­ally look­ing over my shoul­der, ter­ri­fied that some­one was lurk­ing in shad­ows, wait­ing for me. Fi­nally, this Jan­uary, po­lice rang to say Joshua Okug­beni, 21, had pleaded guilty to com­mon as­sault on his first vic­tim and in­tent to com­mit a sex­ual of­fence in re­la­tion to me. Thank­fully, my at­tack had been caught on CCTV so I hadn’t needed to go to court and give ev­i­dence.

Praised for brav­ery

Okug­beni was sen­tenced to five years and four months in jail and or­dered to sign the sex offenders reg­is­ter for life. De­tails in our lo­cal news­pa­per re­vealed that he was ac­tu­ally a re­spected mem­ber of the com­mu­nity, both a church­goer and char­ity worker who had been study­ing phar­macy at univer­sity. I couldn’t un­der­stand what had driven him to com­mit such a crime. The re­port also re­vealed the judge had praised my brav­ery, say­ing, ‘I’ve got to ex­press the court’s ad­mi­ra­tion for the sec­ond vic­tim’s pres­ence of mind in fight­ing back against her at­tacker, tak­ing out her keys and stab­bing him in the neck.’ Read­ing that, I felt so proud of my­self. I’d fought back, stopped a rapist and in do­ing so made sure no other woman would be­come his vic­tim. Think­ing of that helped me un­der­stand how to move on emo­tion­ally. In a mat­ter of 15 min­utes Joshua Okug­beni had as­saulted two women and de­stroyed his life. I owed it to my­self and my fam­ily to make sure his sick ac­tions didn’t de­stroy mine, too.

RAPI ST Joshua Okug­beni at­tacked two women

THE KEYS Tanya de­fended herself with these

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.