• Cheek

Second survivor comes forward in solidarity with Brittany Higgins

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

The Weekend Australian has reported that a second woman, also a former Liberal party staffer, has stated she was sexually assaulted by the same man accused of raping Brittany Higgins.

“If this had been properly dealt with by the government in 2019, this would not have happened to me,” the woman who wishes to remain anonymous stated.

Earlier this week Scott Morrison claimed that no one in his office knew about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins. Morrison's claim was undermined when text messages emerged revealing one of the PM's staffers was 'mortified' by the story and had pledged to take action.

Currently, there are four investigations being undertaken, in addition to the Australian Federal Police inquiry. This includes an examination of which staffers in the Prime Minister's Office were aware of the assault allegation.

Mr Morrison says he welcomes the investigation.

Many news outlets are reporting that these allegations, both of sexual violence and the handling of these matters have 'rocked' the nation's capital.

The workplace culture on display in our nation's capital actually communicates that they haven't been 'rocked' by this information at all. In fact, they have been armed, for far too long, with the belief that their most powerful tool is the silence of their victims.

The perpetrator in question remains unnamed, but what we do know is that he was able to obtain at least two extensive character references from fellow staffers, which helped him secure a job at a PR firm in Sydney merely two months after the alleged rape of Ms Higgins.

We also know that police investigating Brittany's claim faced pushback from parliament.

Higgins withdrew her police complaint on 13 April. She said she felt at the time that pursuing the complaint would put her career in jeopardy.

For Scott Morrison, this is a bad press week.

For Brittany Higgins, this is the ultimate amplification of trauma, it is vulnerability in it's purest form. Fear of retaliation is real. Security is not free.

For many victims, anonymity is a golden shield.

Silence can feel synonymous with safety. Brittany should be commended for what her story, her sacrifice means for other women.

For media outlets to write that a system designed to protect it's own institutions has been 'shattered' to hear of the crimes being committed in the next cubicle over, is repulsive.

Australian culture is entrenched in blind loyalty. We are wilfully ignorant of the the structures we enable, the patriarchal systems that thrive on the denigration of women. The repercussions of our response to important voices like Brittany's will live on through history, we must respond.