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They must be believed

Watching Laura Tingles excellent coverage of the Christian Porter rape allegation on 7.30 report recently, she highlighted video footage of a press conference in May 2019, in which our current Prime Minister stated clearly ‘they must be able to tell their stories and we must believe them’. The ‘They’, he is referring to are the women and men who experience sexual assault.

The statistics in this country reveal that very few survivors who come forward to report are lying. The risk is great, the losses even greater. The criminal and judicial system is so perilous and stacked against the victim. Grace Tame, our current Australian of the Year, and a survivor herself, pointed out recently, there are eight different definitions of consent in Australia, depending on what state or territory you live in.

At the aptly named Secret Keeper, we hear the experiences a client shares. The secret they have been keeping; often for decades. We are often the first people they have ever told. I was the first person Frances told that she’d been sexually assaulted in a pub at 18. 30 years ago. She remembers it clearly, with the vivid detail as if it happened yesterday, these aren’t memories that fade.

This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is “choose to challenge”

What is the challenge?

Who faces the biggest challenge?

For me, as a male therapist, the challenge is tackling men’s behaviour and men‘s attitudes towards women.

Working with a lot with men, I hear in session the subtle remarks that reveal the contempt and disregard for women, the deceit, the explanations or justification for bad or shitty behaviour.

Entitlement in men is huge.

It is so easy to blame someone else for making you do something, rather than owning the shame of what you have done. I wonder where as men we have learnt this, and how do we unlearn this?

So this International Women’s Day, take a moment to think about the poor behaviour you‘re experiencing from the men and women around you.

Choose to challenge yourself to say; No, we have to better. This is no longer acceptable.

Find your voice, your agency and your power to hold those accountable.

You will find me marching on 15th March. Hopefully 1000’s of other Australians will join me in challenging the current government to call for an better experience for the women in this country.

If you’re experiencing difficulties at this time, please contact your mental health support provider or Lifeline on 131114.

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