'I’m a survivor watching Brittany Higgins’ texts read out in court. It’s completely retraumatising.'

Content warning: This post discusses sexual assault. 

I was raped at the age of 17 by a friend of a friend. The very next day I went to the police. The two male detectives were kind, but clearly exasperated, it was schoolies, a time for youth causing trouble. The detectives told me they would support me if I chose to press charges but listed the likely events that would follow, including the prosecution of my character and sexual history. I chose not to continue with the process, the thought of my private life being shared with the public was terrifying. 

I tried to make peace with my decision but as I got older; I lived with regret and shame, thoughts of him hurting other women shadowed me, and as a strong feminist I thought I’d let myself and other women down. Following the #MeToo movement, I found the courage and determination to try once again to seek justice. 

It's been a long process, years of collecting the huge number of witness statements and evidence. I’m now finally on the precipice of pressing charges and going through the court process. 

Watch: Brittany Higgins speaks at Canberra's March 4 Justice rally. Post continue after video.

Video via Mamamia.

But recently I have been forced to reconsider my position thanks to the media circus that has played out after Brittany Higgins’ allegations of sexual assault, and all the ensuing legal drama. 


I, like many survivors, was raped by a man who came from privilege, a private school boy with a wealthy and high-profile father, who wasn’t used to hearing the word no. My fear is that because of this man’s family name, I too, could be the focus of media interest and scrutiny.

In her endeavour to seek justice against her alleged attacker, Brittany Higgins was required to surrender her telephones, passwords, messages, photos and data. What she couldn’t have known at the time was that these private messages between loved ones and friends would be released for the world to see, forever available to anyone who Googles her name. 

Listen: Mamamia The Quicky talks about "Brittany Higgins Takes The Stand In Defamation Case". Post continue after podcast.

Victims are supposed to be protected by the Harman undertaking, the rule is that documents produced under subpoena or otherwise compelled by court orders cannot be used for collateral, ulterior or unrelated purposes. This was evidently breached with Brittany Higgins’ private data, something that she has been talking about for months with no real public interest or outrage. 

But it's only now that any real thought or discourse has been given to this egregious breach. The Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, stated: "It’s vital that victims of alleged sexual assault have confidence that, if they come forward and report what happened to them, they will be treated fairly by our justice system."


As a woman and a survivor of sexual assault, I have absolutely no faith that I will be treated fairly by the justice system or by the media. It’s a huge leap of faith to put your private life in the hands of the court system for members of court to judge you on, it’s a completely different story to have your private life forcibly placed in the hands of the Australian public to be scrutinised and judged.

But that’s not been the focus of the top news stories this past week, the focus has been on the procuring of Thai masseuses, misuse of company credit cards, drug usage, payment of rent, and even the botched Adele interview. As usual, the suffering of women is not at the forefront of the narrative. 

Will I press charges with the risk that I will be personally prosecuted and have my personal life splashed around for all to see? I’m not entirely sure. I’m trying to take one step at a time, without thinking about the huge mountain that’s in front of me. Because if I look forward I’m not sure I would be able to proceed. 

I know I’m not the only victim thinking this, weighing up the true cost to our privacy for a very slim chance at justice. In Australia only 8 per cent of sexual offences reported to the police resulted in a charge, and of that 8 per cent only half that number, resulted in a conviction. In the words of Brittany Higgins, that is our national shame.

Featured Image: Getty.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.