Author Amanda Lindhout said she learned a lot about "the culture of victim blaming" after being stunned by a banner set up for a speech she was scheduled to deliver in India.
The Canadian journalist was kidnapped in Somalia in 2008 by Islamist insurgents. During her 15 months as a captive, she was repeatedly raped and tortured, an experience outlined in a best-selling memoir.
This week, Lindhout was set to give a keynote address about forgiveness and compassion to a group of entrepreneurs in Jaipur.
But when she arrived, she was shocked to see a banner behind the podium with words that included rape, beaten, mistake, and brutal.
"I felt instantly sick," wrote Lindhout in a Facebook post. "It went against every fibre of my being to imagine standing next to those words and telling my story. My own dignity felt at stake."
She told the crowd she could not speak next to the sign, and walked off the stage.
Instead of an apology or understanding, one man jeered at her, Lindhout said, while an organizer said loudly that she was "disrespecting" participants who had travelled to attend.
“What happened to me in Somalia doesn’t define me."
But Lindhout, who is from Alberta, was unapologetic about her decision.
"I have learned a lot about the culture of victim shaming and also the way many people see a story like mine as entertainment instead of inspiration."
Lindhout was released from captivity in 2009, but she did not speak publicly about surviving the sexual abuse until a few years later.
“What happened to me in Somalia doesn’t define me," she told CBC Radio in 2013.
"I think that when we put those labels on things it diminishes me somehow, that’s not a powerful label to be given that I am a victim. I am a survivor, I have survived rape and I have survived torture and I have survived an extremely difficult 460 days in captivity but I’ve moved on from that."
In her book, "A House In The Sky," Lindhout mentioned one of her dreams was to travel to India with her mom. That came true last month as they made it there to celebrate her mom's 60th birthday.
Lindhout was also beginning a speaking tour of the region.