As Malta grapples with public incidents of gender-based violence, one woman has opened up publicly about a harrowing experience she went through over two decades ago for the first time.
It was 1998 when a 20-year-old Ritianne Tabone was walking alone to her car in Paceville.
“It was around the time Alfie Rizzo was killed, and it was raining cats and dogs that night but I couldn’t wait for the rain to stop as it was getting late and I was working in the morning,” Ritianne told Lovin Malta.
“From the opposite side of the road I saw a man who started walking towards me, I started walking faster but I could feel him getting closer,” she continued.
Then, he grabbed ahold of her.
“He grabbed me from my arm and held it behind my back. I froze and didn’t know what to do. No one was around and was raining badly.”
“He told me ‘I’ll kill you, come with me’ and he started pushing me to walk.”
Ritianne began panicking when she heard his demand.
“I feared for my life, that he would rape me and kill me,” Ritianne said.
Holding her arm behind her back, he began touching her and told her to give him money.
“I told him that I didn’t have, and he kept repeating that he will kill me and pushing me to walk with my arm at my back. He then told me to give him my leather jacket, but he still kept pushing me,” she said.
“Suddenly, I started screaming at the top of my lungs. I remember a woman coming out on her door step with her pyjamas on when she heard my screaming. As soon as the man saw her, he grabbed my bottom and left running.”
Ritianne believes that if the woman didn’t emerge at that time, the incident could have ended terribly for her, and wanted to thank the woman for stepping in as she never had a chance to speak to her.
“I went straight to my car, shaking so much that I couldn’t drive for at least 30 minutes. I didn’t file a police report because I was so scared…”
Over two decades later, and she’s only felt comfortable enough to share her story with some close friends – but she wanted to let the island know what she went through walking alone that rainy night.
“I never even told my parents what happened to me. I only told a couple of my friends about the incident. People must know that it’s not just now that these things happen, but they always did, it’s just that women are scared to speak up.”
Even reliving this story… I remembered all the details, and still my heart pounds and I shake.
“I hope these things are not taken lightly anymore and serious actions are taken by the authorities,” she ended.
Malta has been rocked by the brutal public murder of Polish national Paulina Dembska. Since then, more and more women, including singer Fiona Cauchi, have opened up about their personal harrowing experiences.
Photo credit: Ritianne Tabone