By Sheila Nykwist
In Thailand she’s been nicknamed “The little woman who hit back.”
In a country whose women are not expected to fight back, Maya Roy has caused quite a stir. Not many would think the slim Ryerson student had it in her, but Roy never doubted her abilities to fight back, especially when it counted the most.
“It’s a situation you never ever want to imagine yourself in because it’s really horrific,” said Roy, a fourth-year social work student. “I think as a young woman it’s our worst nightmare come true.”
Roy had been volunteering in Krabi, Thailand, on a literacy program for youth. After just a month, she was brutally attacked and stabbed just outside the door of her home.
“It was pretty clear what his agenda was and what he wanted to do,” said Roy.
Despite the 10-foot-high enclosure surrounding her host family’s home, Roy was not safe from the masked man intent on raping her.
“He was watching the house so he knew that around the same time each night I would go to my house to take a shower and go to sleep,” she said in an interview just after returning to Toronto last week.
As Roy unlocked her door, she heard footsteps behind her and turned around to confront her attacker face to face. There wasn’t much time to think. Instinct kicked in.
“The fight was so fast and obviously I was just intent on getting away,” said Roy, who yelled out “Fire! Fire!,” in Thai to draw the attention of her host family and neighbours.
With her host mother literally a few steps away, unaware of what was taking place just outside her door, Roy fought back for her life.
“There was that split second where I froze just because I was surprised,” recalled Roy.
“It was like a switch turned on and I got really, really angry and there was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to get out of that situation,” said Roy, who proceeded to rip off her attacker’s mask and slam his head against the wall.
The entire fight, which lasted no longer than a minute and a half, happened so quickly that Roy never realized the exact moment when her attacker slit her throat.
It was only when she could no longer scream her host mother’s name that she realized she’d been cut.
“There’s something very symbolic about having your throat slit, about being silenced,” she said.
She believes her attacker was trying to make a statement by cutting her, knowing his plan to rape her had failed. There was a brief moment before he fled that she could see the look of surprise on his face.
“When the police came to the scene and it wasn’t my blood that was all over the walls, it was his they were really surprised,” said Roy. “That wasn’t something they expected to see.”
Throughout the struggle she kept telling herself to say conscious.
“At one point I said … I would give anything to be unconscious right now. This cannot be happening. This cannot be happening,” she thought.
“The only point I probably would have lost consciousness was when I saw myself in the mirror,” said Roy of the two deep cuts to her throat. “I remember standing there thinking, I’m still breathing, I’m still standing.”
“I was really, really incredibly lucky. If it had gone either one centimeter to the right or the left, who knows, this would be a very different kind of article.”
Within half an hour, Roy was in surgery to repair her trachea and within just two weeks she had regained use of her voice.
Following the surgery, Roy said she was overwhelmed by the support she received from local people, her family and friends who came to visit her in the hospital.
“Something like that would never, ever happen here,” said Roy of the support she received, including a visit from the governor of Krabi.
Back home people expected her to be traumatized and bitter about her experience in Thailand.
“Of course this horrible thing happened to me and of course I’m upset,” says Roy. “I mean, when I look at my throat every morning, I’m like, ‘you fucker.’”
Yet Roy said she’s not bitter and has no regrets of any kind. She’s already raising money to go back and continue her work in Thailand which includes sustainable development of Thailand’s resources and economy.
“I love this stuff. I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” said Roy.