The call from Canada was unexpected, shocking and heartbreaking.
Naomi Woodyatt learned that her 79-year-old father Martin had died in his sleep at his home in Burlington.
She was at her home in Cork, Ireland, where she has lived for the past eight years. It was late August.
But the heart-crunching loss of her beloved father was just the beginning of a nightmare for the 43-year-old marketing whiz.
On the night before she was slated to fly home to Canada, a passport mix-up landed her in an airport hotel. A fast drink at the hotel’s bar ended with her in hazy agony in her room the next morning.
Woodyatt had been drugged and raped.
“None of us were expecting him to pass away, his health had gotten worse but still I was just a wreck,” the mom of three told The Toronto Sun. “I spent three days crying.”
There was a small problem with her Canadian passport she needed to resolve before she got on the plane. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday and the embassy in Dublin was closed.
The next morning she was slated for an 11 a.m. flight to Toronto. Woodyatt checked into an airport hotel and went to the bar for a much-needed glass of wine “or two.”
A man later came into the bar. He was around Woodyatt’s age, “clean-cut, maybe an engineer.”
The stranger had an Irish accent but said he lived in the UK and was flying to Colorado on business.
“He wore a casual shirt, jeans, he was put together and he had a business gentleman vibe,” Woodyatt said.
So she told him her story, about her father, the funeral, her children. Airport bar chat.
“He offered to buy me a drink … and I have absolutely no memory of anything after that,” she said.
In the early morning light, a greater horror emerged.
“As I woke up, I felt sore … I was on the room’s single bed … he was on the double bed, watching me, smirking,” Woodyatt recalled. “Then he got on top of me and raped me again. He didn’t say a word.”
“I told him to stop … he didn’t,” she added.
The rapist put on his clothes and left. Like it was nothing. Like Naomi Woodyatt was nothing.
On the table were two half drank glasses of Prosecco. One had a strawberry, the other didn’t.
“Seeing that made me realize what had happened. And my ring was gone. It was just costume jewelry but on the plane I realized it was gone,” Woodyatt said.
That was the sicko’s souvenir. His prize.
“I went and I had a shower and I saw I had bruises all over my legs and then later discovered I had two burn marks, they looked like cigarette burns, just small burns on my arm,” Woodyatt said.
The days that followed were a haze. She made her way to the airport and home to Canada to say goodbye to her father.
“I was emotionally defeated … my focus was on my family and my dad … my emotions were put on hold,” Woodyatt said, adding she got tested to ensure she hadn’t picked up an STI from the monster who raped her.
She also took a morning after pill.
Weeks later, back in Ireland, the terror came back as she drove past the local rape crisis centre. And then she vomited.
Woodyatt called cops but was told by a female detective in the kindest way possible, pursuing justice would be “two years of hell” and “worse than the rape itself.”
So she went public instead.
“For the past six months I’ve had terrible nightmares … there is just so much shame involved. I wake up crying or screaming out loud,” Woodyatt said. “Rape victims blame themselves. I want to break that stigma.”
After her story appeared in an Irish newspaper, another woman reached out to her.
“She thinks she was raped by the same guy three weeks later,” Woodyatt said.
Woodyatt has a message to other rape victims: “Be kind to yourself.”