WARNING – DISTURBING CONTENT: An international student has shared her harrowing account of being attacked and raped by a stranger while heading home from a night out, in a bid to raise funds for other sexual assault victims.
US national Andrea Sicignano, 27, had been living and studying in the Spanish capital of Madrid for six months when she went out with a friend to see a flamenco show.
The pair partied until the early hours but then became separated before Ms Sicignano hopped on the last bus home.
In a drunken state, the American national didn’t realise she was on the wrong bus until she found herself at the end of the line, in an unfamiliar area, around 4am.
A man noticed her sitting at the bus stop, lost and visibly upset, and offered to help.
“I needed help and the man assured me that he could help me get home,” she wrote on Facebook last Saturday, sharing confronting pictures of her bloodied and bruised face.
Ms Sicignano said she later began to feel in danger and tried to run away but “the man became violent” and beat her.
Barefoot, the victim ran to the street, shouting for help until a passing motorist stopped, called an ambulance, and waited until it arrived.
The alleged rapist was caught and arrested days later.
The victim shared her story as a warning to others that sexual assault was “a very real thing”.
“I never thought something like this could or would ever happen to me. I’ve been traveling on my own for years… I’m strong, intelligent, and independent. None of that matters when you’re at the mercy of a man who wants to hurt you,” Ms Sicignano wrote.
By sharing her story, the woman hoped to raise money for other sexual assault victims through a GoFundMe page.
She said a small portion of funds will go towards her own medical bills and emergency flights taken for treatment, but most of the money raised will go to “helping and saving the lives of” other sexual assault victims.