On an evening in December 1994, an extraordinary event took place in Alison’s ordinary life. She was abducted by two men and taken to the outskirts of the coastal city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, where they raped and brutally assaulted her. She was stabbed in the abdomen more than 30 times and her throat was slit from side to side. The men left her for dead in the bushes.
But somehow she lived. Somehow she was able to find her way back to the road where she collapsed. A car finally stopped and found the near-dead Alison. Despite the odds, she lived.
Physicians call her survival a medical miracle, but perhaps the true miracle has been how she has chosen to deal with the experience. Rather than becoming bitter, she uses her experience as an example of the power of the human spirit. In her speaking engagements, she shares with her audiences the horror of being physically attacked, then offers insight into her own recovery and the power of inner strength.
Since the ordeal, Alison has received numerous awards, including the Rotarian Paul Harris Award for Courage Beyond the Norm. She was named Femina magazine’s first ‘Woman of Courage’ in 1995 and was honoured as her hometown of Port Elizabeth’s Citizen of the Year in 1995 for her contributions to the community.
In 1998, I Have Life, Alison’s first-person account of her ordeal and recovery, was published by Penguin Books, South Africa, and has been a best-seller ever since throughout the country. The book has also been translated into several languages internationally. In 2016, an updated version was printed, with a new chapter written by Alison herself.
The feature documentary on her miraculous survival story, simply titled, ’Alison’ was released in August 2016. The hybrid movie has received several award nominations around the globe and secured Best African Documentary at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards in Lagos 2017 and Best Documentary at the Asia Pacific Film Festival in 2016.
Audiences leave inspired after hearing Alison’s message, inspired to believe in the strength within each one of us to overcome obstacles in our own life’s journeys
As Alison shares her story, she weaves in the strands of her life’s philosophy – that we may not be able to control the circumstances that we find ourselves in, but we can ALWAYS control what we do about them. We can ALWAYS control our own A,B,C’s
Attitude - Take responsibility for your attitude, of yourself – nurture one of value in your
Belief - Belief in ourselves is a powerful tool at our disposal every day of our lives and yet many of us wait and only use it when we are in the worst situations of our lives.
Choice - We cannot control what others do and their actions do not define how we feel – that is up to
how we choose to react. We should take responsibility for our choices but not those of others.
Comments from people who have heard Alison share her message
“Never have I seen a speaker getting a standing ovation both before and after a talk!” - Vera Harvey, Multi Rand Forum
“I had to remind myself to breathe when Alison was telling her story”
- John R. Reynolds, Stockton, USA
“Alison is an inspiration to us all, and seems to have the most incredible and optimistic outlook to life. It is contagious and a very powerful message to deliver!” – Kim Sim, UCS Solutions
“I have yet to experience a speaker who has the natural talent you do to hold an audience encapsulated in the palm of her hand. You have a powerful message to deliver and the ability to do so at any venue in the world.” - R McKee, Capital Alliance
“I enjoyed Alison’s casual though effective way of speaking. It came from the heart and did not feel rehearsed” – Sandra van Heerden, UCS Solutions
“I am so grateful I was afforded the opportunity to hear her talk as she has given me renewed confidence in myself to conquer anything that I put my mind to.” – Tanya Krog, Virgin Active
“It is a real life story of bravery and determination, which we all can grow our strength and determination from in the future.” - Dave Callaghan, former South African cricketer
“Thank you so much for being a part of the AVI Field Marketing Conference. Your contribution was so huge that I am still battling to put my thoughts into words. As I mentioned to you, it is magical how a story of such a terrifying experience could make me feel so uplifted and positive! I played around with the word “inspirational” in my mind, but that felt too small and clichéd. The best I can come up with at the moment is “empowering”! Your talk is still being chewed and digested in my mind, and will stay with me for the rest of my life!
-Nana Stapelberg , Sugar and Groove Events
“I was happy to learn that such a brave young lady as yourself continue to contribute to other people’s lives through your work. Through your efforts you have turned a bad experience into triumph. We need young South Africans like you, determined to fight for the future and people who continue to support others who may not be as strong as you. I would lobby with everyone to support your efforts and to contribute in whichever way possible to ensure that you continue to spread your words of wisdom.” – Mr Nelson Mandela