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Ao Nang cliff fall, sex-assault survivor Hannah Gavios to run New York City Marathon on crutches

NEW YORK: What was supposed to be a dream trip for Hannah Gavios turned into what she calls “the worst nightmare one could imagine.”

By The Phuket News

Saturday 3 November 2018, 09:00AM

Hannah Gavios walks in Nike during the Runway Of Dreams Foundation Fashion Revolution Event at Cipriani 42nd Street on September 5, 2018 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images for Runway Of Dreams Foundation/AFP

Hannah Gavios walks in Nike during the Runway Of Dreams Foundation Fashion Revolution Event at Cipriani 42nd Street on September 5, 2018 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images for Runway Of Dreams Foundation/AFP

Gavios, while in Southeast Asia teaching English in 2016, took a trip to Thailand. She stopped to ask someone for directions to her hotel, but the man turned out to be “a deranged local who tried to harass me.”

The man, 28-year-old Apai Ruangwong, offered to guide her to her hotel and instead led her to a wooded area where he attacked and sexually assaulted her.

She managed to fight him off and took off running in the dark, not realising she was heading straight toward a cliff. Gavios fell 150 feet and miraculously survived.

But the fall had fractured her spine and she couldn’t move.

In immense pain, she cried out for help. That’s when Ruangwong found her again and sexually assaulted her for 10 hours.

She was finally saved by locals. (Ruangwong was later sentenced to five years in prison.)

“I was partially paralysed from the waist down,” the Bayside, New York, native told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I was given emergency spinal surgery” at a Thai hospital. Doctors weren’t certain whether she would ever be able to walk again.


“I was very determined to prove them wrong and to show that I will walk and be on my two feet.”

About 10 days after her fall, doctors asked her to walk 50 feet, which Gavios says was “exhausting” for her. But day by day, she started making progress and is now able to walk with the help of crutches.

One would think her horrific ordeal would elicit sympathy from everyone, but Gavios says that some strangers blamed her for what had happened to her. “’What was she thinking, traveling by herself?’” she says, referring to the sexist comments she would receive. “’She should always be with a man.’ Why shouldn’t a female be able to travel or walk around by herself? Maybe we should focus on teaching men how to behave rather than belittling women for doing things on their own.”

Gavios does say that she also wants to feel safe when she’s on her own, so she took up martial arts and Krav Maga, the Israeli military self-defense system. “Just so that I could still continue my adventures and always feel safe if I get into a dangerous situation,” she says.

– Rachel Grumman Bender

Beauty and Style Editor, Yahoo

Story reprinted with permission. See original story in full, here.



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ppkiwis | 03 November 2018 - 17:12:46

Congratulations on your recovery, and wishing you all the best in your next challenge.
I must say I am amazed that the perpetrator only got 5 years, I would have thought 20 years would have been more appropriate for that degree of sexual assault.

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