Natalie Wynne, Digital Journalist Community & Regional, Sunshine Coast. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Natalie Wynne, Digital Journalist Community & Regional, Sunshine Coast. Picture: Patrick Woods.

‘I stopped speaking, I stopped thinking, I pushed it down’

OPINION

As a woman, to say these past few weeks have been difficult is an understatement.

We watched Brittany Higgins courageously speak out about an alleged assault at Parliament House and then we watched as the government and others tried to tear her down.

This year's Australian of the Year Grace Tame confronted her truth head on and started the #LetHerSpeak movement.

'Enough is enough': Coast rallies against sexual assault

And on Monday, women across the country made a stand with March 4 Justice rallies held in cities across the country.

They demanded politicians to "put an end to the issues of sexism, misogyny, dangerous workplace cultures and lack of equality in politics and the community at large".

More than 100 passionate protesters gathered at the Sunshine Coast's March4Justice at Cotton Tree on Monday. Picture: Patrick Woods.
More than 100 passionate protesters gathered at the Sunshine Coast's March4Justice at Cotton Tree on Monday. Picture: Patrick Woods.

All of these incidents finally prompted a discussion and an outpouring over social media of other women sharing their stories.

As I scrolled through to read one heartbreaking post after another, tales of rape, bullying, misogyny and bad behaviour, it got me thinking about my own situation and why women find it so difficult to be heard.

When I was younger I found myself in an extremely toxic situation.

Everyone does stupid things when they are young.

You just write them off as an experience.

But now I realise I was a victim.

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I was a victim of extreme gaslighting and verbal and physical abuse.

One day the situation escalated to where I could no longer control the narrative.

I had, against my better judgment, gone to see this person, who just hours ago in a fit of rage told me no one would ever love me, even my own parents didn't and that's why I'm adopted.

When I was there, I said no - he had been drinking, he didn't care and I relented.

He then launched a barrage of verbal assaults, picked up a ball from the pool table and threw it at me.

He dragged me across the road to a chemist, told the man behind the counter I was a whore, and then force fed me a morning after pill.

As I tried to leave he continued to shove me down the street, saying he'd never wanted to hit a woman so much in his life.

And then he did - in the stomach - while holding a water bottle.

But after all of that what happened next was actually far worse than the abuse itself.

I went to confide in a female friend. She brushed it off and told me to go to work.

So I did.

Over the next few weeks, I tried to tell others. They sympathised but that was it.

No one spoke up for me. No one confronted the person.

Eventually it became clear, I was the problem.

He had labelled me "a liar" and "crazy". He said "I wasn't to be trusted, I made it all up." Until I no longer had that friend group anymore.

I stopped speaking. I stopped thinking. I pushed it deep down and moved on.

Nothing good came from it so why bother pursuing it.

I have seen this person since. I even tried talking to him again because I thought I was in the wrong.

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But this is why we don't speak up. You call us crazy. You call us liars and then we're shunned for speaking our truth.

It will only be once we're truly heard that change will be enacted.

It will only be once we can speak without fear of guilt, intimidation or condemnation that victims will feel safe.

We shouldn't be teaching our girls to walk with our keys threaded through our fingers, or to take our earphones out when we walk - or to text when we get home safely.

We should be teaching our boys to respect girls, to help them when they need, to walk away when they feel anger and that no means no.

Something has to change, we can't keep talking in circles with no real resolution, we can't go on like this and watch as Australian women are torn down, shamed, assaulted, raped and killed.

Enough is enough.


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