Nothing to see here: Sex victims ‘so damn triggered’ by PM
I've been trying to find the words for this post for week, and after reading the words of my parliamentary colleagues in The Courier-Mail yesterday, here's what I'd like to say.
So many of us are living with the trauma of sexual harassment or assault. It's something that's always there, a shadow we cant shake. And we rarely talk about it, like really talk about it. Our shame protects them and imprisons us. I agree with Yvette D'Ath - we have to try to stop doing this.
I stand with the women who are breaking their silence. We all have our stories, here are some of mine.
The first time I ever drank alcohol was with a boy who was my friend. We drank stubbies of beer his step-father had given him, only a few, but enough that I felt sick and lay down on the front yard of a friend's house.
He lay down next to me, I thought to distract or comfort me, but instead he tried to put his hand down my jeans. I lied and told him I was going to be sick, and he stopped.
After this happened I'd sometimes skip school to avoid being around him.
At 16, a friend's father invited me to a party. He gave me vodka and asked me questions about my life. I was living out of home at the time and was enjoying having an adult take such an interest in my life.
I woke up with him on top of me in the early hours of the morning. I froze until he stopped. We lived in central Queensland and the party was three hours from my home, so I had to sit in the front seat and make small talk as he drove me home the next day.
"We should do this again," he said.
I never found the words to tell my friend before she later suicided. I didn't go to her funeral.
Sometime after he hired me, one of my first employers told me he gave me the job because he thought I was pretty. He would buy me gifts and tell me about the problems in his marriage.
When I got a boyfriend he didn't talk to me for a week despite working in a small office.
I loved my job so I smiled and pushed through.
I was speaking as Young Australian of the Year at a conference in Canberra.
The conference included an interesting international speaker who I spent some time at the conference swapping ideas with.
I asked for his card as we left the conference.
"It's just up in my room," he said.
But when we got there he closed and locked the door behind me, pinned me to the wall and attempted to kiss me.
He was at least twice my age and by this time I'd known him for perhaps two hours.
I immediately left the room.
"Wait,' he said as I walked out, 'Here's my card'.
I reached out and took it.
I've been angry ever since.
A recognised Professor I worked alongside. We spoke often of family - he would boast about his marriage, his wife, his adult children who were in fact my age.
He was respected, warm, caring and intelligent. He became like a father to me, which was a nice comfort after losing my own father.
One night while on the road together for work I went to his room to borrow some toothpaste. He invited me in, we sat on the couch and talked about the day.
The moment was so inconspicuous, so when he turned to me and said "So, are we going to f*ck or what?"
I was caught completely off guard both with what he said and with the ease at which he said it.
If I couldn't believe it how could I expect anyone else to?
The only words I could find was to ask a colleague to never leave me alone with him again.
Festivals and concerts: hands touching you from behind, but when you turn around the group of men behind you smile and shrug - nothing to see here.
Ordering a meal at a hotel when I hear a phone camera click. I turn around to see a guy behind me holding a phone pointing at my legs and backside.
'Did you just take a photo of me?' No, nothing to see here.
Wolf whistles, gestures, suggestions…. which if you do find the power to confront result in the predictable "you've misunderstood", "you're over-reacting", "you're being too sensitive". Nothing to see here.
My experiences are not unique - so many women have these stories. Which is why, when the Prime Minister of our country stands up and essentially says "nothing to see here" we survivors are so damn triggered.
Because we've had a lifetime being told there's nothing here to see.
We need our leaders to confront this issue (as Annastacia Palaszczuk and many others have), rather than treating it like an annoying distraction.
It's time the Prime Minister understood what so many people are living with. It's time for us as a society to see as well.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as 'I woke up with him on top of me': MP recounts horror sex attacks