“Alison” – ABC Survival

alison bothai have lifeA major factor in self-protection teaching and education includes the research of personal survival. Besides simple survival skills in everyday life, we come back down to the psychological drivers that have allowed victims of crimes or crime-stoppers to survive the trauma of interpersonal violence. This is why I made Ben Sherwood’s “The Survivor’s Club” a recommended read in my self-protection foundation course. I regularly collect astounding stories of individuals who have survived violent crimes often to recognise preveiling tactics. However, in the case of Alison Botha, the subject of the documentary “Alison”, I found a story that was deep in an area we call the “post-fight”.
Alison Botha’s extraordinary story highlights the much neglected aftermath of violent crime. Her survival – her will and determination to live – borders on the miraculous at least from a lay person’s perspective. Alison was abducted on 18th December 1994 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in her own car at knife-point by a serial rapist who ordered her to drive on and then pick up his regular accomplice. These two criminals had raped their previous two victims and threatened their lives if they told the police. Their victims had ignored their threats and the two had come to the conclusion that they would kill their next target to prevent identification. After both these men put Alison through a horrendously prolonged sexual attack, she was disembowelled and had her throat deeply slashed from side to side, almost decapitating her.
However, after her attackers had driven off, Alison was still alive. Despite her injuries, she began her steps to survival by writing the names of her would-be killers in the sand beside her body. They had first given false names, but as the attack began in earnest their real names, “Frans” and “Theuns”, had been revealed. Alison’s first actions were to do her best to protect others from such an attack and to get some justice. Her next act was to move forward; to crawl and make her way to the nearby road. One car past her naked, blood-caked body. However, the next driver stopped and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived. Her rescuer described how he felt a need to urge the ambulance driver to go faster but felt they had already decided she was not going to survive. The surgeons working on her were totally shocked by Alison’s survival to the point that he couldn’t properly explain why she still lived.
Not only did Alison live, but she was able to fully identify her attackers and saw them brought to justice. One of her attackers, Frans du Toit,  had been so certain Alison was dead that he confessed as soon as his arresting officer told him she had survived. Both men, Frans du Toit and Theuns Kruger, were given the maximum sentences afforded by their judge who later admitted that, despite his own liberal beliefs, he would have considered imposing the death penalty if that option had been open to him. Since their arrest and conviction, neither of the men have demonstrated anything that bordered on remorse for their crimes. In fact, Frans du Toit’s egregious audacity has shown no bounds. When asked if he would grant an interview for the documentary, “Alison”, he said he would only do so in exchange for a signed letter of forgiveness from Alison and backdated profits from her book and her motivational talks. Alison’s actions that helped secure the arrest and conviction more than likely prevented other women falling prey to their crimes. Having both been convicted without the chance of parole, it seemed that this condition might be overturned when South Africa’s justice system determined that all prisoners convicted prior to October 2004 would be eligible for parole. In 2015 it was reported that social media pressure was making it difficult for the two men to get parole. By 2016 Correctional Services revealed to the press that neither man had stood in front of a parole board.
Alison’s physical recovery was a wonder of science. Not only was she not disabled but, contrary to her operating surgeon’s assumptions, she was able to have children. Understandably she still suffers physical pain due to the injuries and naturally she incurred a huge amount of psychological damage. However, as if her sheer physical survival was not an amazing enough story, Alison, who described her pre-attack life as not being ambitious, made a decision to channel her experiences into helping others. Becoming an author and a motivational speaker to huge sell-out crowds, Alison breaks down her approach to survival and thriving in life to the following three elements:

“Attitude – Take responsibility for your attitude, of yourself – nurture one of value in your
own uniqueness.

Belief – Belief in ourselves is a powerful tool at our disposal every day of our lives and yet many of us
wait and only use it when we are in the worst situations of our lives.

Choice – We cannot control what others do and their actions do not define how we feel – that is up to
how we choose to react. We should take responsibility for our choices but not those of others.”*

*Marie Grey website

Useful links:

“Alison” on Amazon Prime

“I Have Life” by Alison Botha

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