#Unbreakable

by | Apr 28, 2021 | #Unbreakable, Ministry, Passion & Purpose | 36 comments

I say often that my purpose in this life is to love God and love others. Through this calling, I’ve discovered and experienced a huge need in our society, and all around the world, to help women not only see that they are extremely valuable and have a significant purpose of their own, but that they have a voice and do not deserve to live in fear or silence.  

Women worldwide face challenges daily, but many face various forms of violence, crime and physical and emotional abuse. I experienced a situation like this a few years ago that rocked me to my core, but also sparked something in me to speak up for the many women who have been silenced. This incident broke my heart for so many women worldwide.  

In 2017, I sat at a red traffic light, all dressed up on my way to an event, feeling on top of the world. I was just crowned Miss South Africa a couple months before. It was peak hour traffic and broad daylight when I looked to my left and right and saw that five armed men were surrounding me. I knew that my materialistic things were not worth my life, so I put up my hands in surrender and gave them everything I had. I was hoping that would be the end of it, and tried to run, but the moment I tried to get away, a guy grabbed me and pushed me back into the car, yelling, “Get in, you’re going with us!” Through various safety driving courses that I had taken prior to this event, I learned that the second destination will never be better than the first, and I knew that I had to get away.  

At that moment I knew I had three decisions I could make: fight, flight, or freeze. All that was going through my head in the moment was, “No, I’m not going with you. I don’t care if you shoot me, if you kill me, but I’m not going with you.” I punched that guy as hard as I possibly could in his throat, and it gave me a split-second window of opportunity to run away. In my six-inch heels, in broad daylight during peak-hour traffic, I ran up a big avenue. I ran, looking over my shoulder, not knowing if I was going to be shot in the back or followed. 

You would think that’s the worst part of this story. As I ran up that avenue, I knocked on about 30 or 40 car windows. Do you know how many cars stopped for me? Not one. Not one person stopped to help me. I don’t know what was more terrifying, being attacked by these five armed men, or not getting any help. I kept running. I kept knocking on windows. I ended up at the next traffic light when I saw a small car pull over to the side of the road with a young girl inside telling me, “Get in! Get in!” Just before she leaned over to unlock and open the door, she looked at me and said, “You don’t have a gun, right?” And I said, “No, I was just hijacked.” She let me into her car and took me to safety. 
  
If it wasn’t for that young, courageous, 19-year-old girl, I don’t know what would have happened. I am forever grateful for this young woman who risked her own safety to be a helping hand to me. What I learned from that experience is that I don’t want to ever be the kind of person that shoves someone in need away, that rolls up a car window when someone is begging for help. My hope is to always be the person that leans over, unlocks and opens the car door, and leads them to safety. 

Although my heart was shattered, my eyes were opened to so many women hurting all over the world. What was one of the scariest situations I’ve ever been in led me to starting a workshop campaign in South Africa empowering women with the tools and knowledge on how to handle unwanted situations and violence. My hope with the #Unbreakable movement is that we can empower women all over the world to believe in themselves, to value themselves, and to know that asking for help does not equal weakness. There are organizations that can and want to help. I, together with field experts, hope to help teach women life-saving skills and give them powerful knowledge on how to handle unwanted situations, but also help them realize that if we, as women, take hands and stand together, we can beUnbreakable.  

Now, 4 years later, I am more passionate about being a voice for those who feel silenced than ever before. I am a current board member of Her Song, the Anti-Human Trafficking ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation. It is one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to dedicate so much of my time and energy to fight against what I believe is one of the greatest evils we are facing in this world today. I truly feel as if God used that tragedy and turned it into my greatest testimony. 

36 Comments

  1. Michaela

    I was in a similar situation Mother, sister & I were held at gunpoint in our home and we got robbed during broad daylight these men came into our home and took our belongings threatening to kill us but I thank God that our neighbor saw something was wrong and contacted the police but all I could do in that moment is pray.

    I am from Cape Town South Africa

    Reply
    • Sakshi pandey

      You have been my favourite miss universe. I’m glad you have been very vocal about your experience and violence against women.

      Reply
  2. Lorna

    Sadly I don’t think I know of a SAn that has bot been affected by crime in some way or form! Sadly SAn!

    Reply
    • Kristin Elyse

      Wow, Demi. Hearing your story and seeing how God has used it for something so much greater is such an inspiration! It truly inspires me to use the broken parts of my story for something so much greater than myself. Thank you for being such a light!

      Reply
    • Tumisho Tyson kolo

      Soo touching.All thanks to almighty God for woman like you Demi.

      Reply
  3. Karinka

    So jammer dit het met jou oor gekom 💕 skurke,!

    Reply
  4. Alicia

    Hi Demi, I am so encouraged by your testimony that in the midst of such evil that you experienced, God has been able to use this situation in your life and turn it around into something positive to help so many women, not just for those in your home country, but all around the world. God bless you!

    Reply
    • Carol

      Thank you for sharing. God bless you in your walk 💜

      Reply
      • Sheila Jackson

        Demi,
        What a horrific story,but a blessing indeed. Thankful for the young lady that GOD provided to help your and save you from the danger. I can’t even imagine your dear. Thank you for your dedication and this blog.

        Reply
        • Esther

          So thankful that God was with you on yhat day…and thanks for sharing this. God bless you and your hudband with all your future plans.

          Reply
  5. Mackyla

    Such an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  6. Susanne

    What a horrific experience for you to endure. You got away for a reason. You have a meaning in life to do good for others. Bless you

    Reply
  7. Joan S Taber

    This is a beautiful story that will impact other women, far an wide. God bless you!

    Reply
    • Betsy Oliverio

      How terrifying to go through, but how blessed to allow God to use this for His good. My heart is heavy for those going through any situation of violence. Thank you for your transparency and sharing your heart with others. You inspire many.

      Reply
  8. Cathy Scott

    Demi, you are amazing! I am so sorry this happened to you. Being from South Africa too, I can understand. Your courage and resilience has made you strong of character, and it is so exciting to see your desire to inspire and encourage other women. I look forward to connecting with you and other great women through this great dream of yours. May the Lord keep using you, and now also via this new and awesome creative platform. I hope to meet you sometime where we can have a cup of tea and a rusk! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Elsa Valerio

    God is good all the horrifying things happened to you that day the next day you became Miss Universe .People saw your beautiful faces and good heart around the world.

    Reply
    • Donna D Whipple

      Your beauty from within is breathtaking. I admire your kind, gentle, yet bold Godconfidence. As I’m encouraged by your resilience, may God continue to use your stories to encourage others. You are a great role model to me and others. Thank you sister.

      Reply
  10. Theresa Tefertiller

    I am so thankful for the servant spirit you and Tim have for the hurting and lost. Speaking out boldly against the horrific evil of trafficking in a political environment that turns a blind eye takes courage. God bless you!

    Reply
  11. Bernadette Lovell

    Thank you so much for sharing, I don’t know what is worse, being robbed at gun point or running for your life and no one stopping to help you. God bless the young lady who was brave enough to help a stranger, I come from a small town on Cape Breton Island in Canada and I would hope that people here would stop and help any person that needed help❤️

    Reply
  12. Christine Jump Howell

    I taught for 10 years at PACE Center for Girls here in Jacksonville. My eyes were opened to a whole new world. Low income, often minority girls, and girls in general, had suffered such atrocities. I made it my mission in life since I was 24 (I am now 51) to help young women realize their worth and achieve their goals. Almost ten years ago, I also began volunteering with Rethreaded. Not only do I volunteer with them, I encourage the students I teach as well as children I mentor all over Northeast Florida to also help Rethreaded. Individually and together, we MUST teach young men to value young women and we must teach young women to value themselves and learn to protect themselves. Human trafficking is the second most lucrative crime in the world creating a 900 billion dollar profit. Each of us has an opportunity and obligation to do our part to end human trafficking and crimes against women. I am so glad you have made this your mission. With this platform and your elevated voice, I cannot wait to see the real impact you will have.

    Reply
  13. Claudyne Bedell

    I did not know this about you. I am sorry you endured this and thank God for his protection over you. So glad to be part of your passion.

    Reply
  14. Jodi Jantomaso

    Thanks for sharing this story. We never know someone else’s’ story and how it could impact many. My prayer is that this ministry and platform that God has placed you at, will be the cornerstone that creates change, empowers many and motivates others to take action. Many blessings Demi!

    Reply
    • Siyabonga Mkwanazi

      Firstly, I’m sorry you had to experience such a thing but im glad you have managed to find light from the situation. You are my number one favorite Miss SA & Universe. What you are doing with your website and in life in general is amazing. I’m truly inspired by you.

      Reply
  15. Mary Ann Parish Games

    Such a terrifying incident to go through. Thank you for sharing what happened to you and how you have used it to help others.

    Reply
  16. Cindy Williams

    Demi,
    God is such a wonderful & gracious God! Your quick thinking & action saved you, only God could have given you the fore thought and courage to do it! I am very excited for you to be working along side your husband, Tim! Sex trafficking is a horrible, traumatic evil against our innocent children and young adults! I can’t believe the USA allows this to happen in our country! It is all over the world and it isn’t dealt with enough! I believe God will use you & Tim for such a time as this! I Will be praying for you both wisdom, protection & a plan in freeing our children from their slavery🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼

    Reply
  17. Karen

    You are an inspiration and I’m so proud of everything you’ve achieved and are doing with your life. Please don’t forget that it is good South African men that are victims to extreme crime on a daily basis too, amongst the other daily challenges they face there. I hope you will one day create more awareness for them too. The fact that everyone lives in fear for their lives in South Africa can make people fearful of getting involved and help others. I’m also fortunate enough to live in the USA, I thank God for this privilege daily, some of the trauma and fear we face as South Africans will never leave me though, as they way we live there is unnatural. I pray for South Africa and my loved ones there on a daily basis. God bless you.

    Reply
  18. Jessica M.

    Hi Demi
    I am really enjoying reading your emails and content on your new website. Thank you for sharing this story. Not a joking matter, but excellent throat punch! I will remember that. I think I would have done the face and broken my hand. This makes me want to sign up for a self defense class and take my young daughter with me!

    Reply
  19. Sarah C.

    Wow! I didn’t know that. Thank you for this Demi. This is truly inspiring and encouraging.

    Reply
  20. Carol

    Thank you for being the hand of God by using your terrifying experience to help others.

    Reply
  21. Andy Marshall

    Demi – Wow what a terrifying moment in your life to have to experience. I’m so sorry you had to go through that but am glad you made it out ok bc of your quick thinking and reactions that saved your life! Well done. Speaking up is so key to helping others recognize a situation and how to react in that moment. Keep helping others and may God shine his light down upon you and all those you speak with. I’m a cancer patient with NHL and had a Stem cell Transplant and share my experiences with those I meet so they can see me and understand cancer effects many around us. So, please try and help those with my type of cancer if your able too. STAY STRONG!!!

    Reply
  22. Carin Shaw

    Thank you for sharing this with us Demi. Praise God for His protection and for giving you the strength, discernment, protection and provision at the time.

    Your blog inspires and lifts my spirit tremendously. May God bless you in abundance.

    Reply
  23. Cyndi Garrison

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I am so thankful you are alive and well and able to tell your story. God bless you!

    Reply
  24. JUDITH SADDLER

    God had a special plan for you. You and Tim have been joined by God to be his ministers to go his work. God bless you both

    Reply
  25. Annaleen Rebelo

    You are a inspiration to so many woman and young girls.
    In today’s living with the dangers around us especially in South Africa.
    Woman should know how to defend themselves.
    What to do and not!!!!

    Reply
  26. Elisha S. Libres

    I didn’t know you yourself experience such trafficking and your story is life changing and moving. Thank you Demi for making yourself as an instrument of hope to every women who also experience such. God bless!

    Reply
  27. Elaine Herd

    Thank you so much for your fight against human trafficking and sharing your story. I am in awe how God is using you to help so many! God bless you on this wonderful journey!

    Reply

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