ROSLYN SNYDER is executive director and a psychology consultant with Wisdom in your Life, and over the years has dealt with the ramifications of 1000 sexual assaults. As thousands of women marched in Perth this week calling for equality and justice, she uses a client’s own words to explain why the response from the Morrison government has been beyond underwhelming.
MS HIGGINS’ rape is more than a political inconvenience for the government; their actions show that they believe rape is simply unwanted sex.
Rape is NOT sex but an abuse of power, an act of violence. The government’s press conferences and comments show a complete lack of understanding of this.
I’d like to share a letter from a woman who was raped by her boyfriend after a night out, as it speaks to the terrifying and life-altering affects experienced by every rape victim. Perhaps our prime minister could bear it in mind next time he glibly says he needs his wife’s way of “clarifying things” to reach an understanding of what it means.
Writing this letter to you, imagining being face to face, having the opportunity to say this to you, is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it is not as hard as having lived with the pain since that last time I saw you in 2006.
It was early hours of the morning; I was very tired after a night of partying. All I did was innocently say good night and rolled over to sleep, you were grumpy about that, but I didn’t think you would do what you did next.
I woke up from my own screams and tears from crying because suddenly you were on my back raping me and not what I thought was the normal way to be raped.
At that age (19), I had no idea anal rape was a thing, I always assumed rape was only ever vaginally. I was yelling at you to get off me, I couldn’t move because all your body weight was on me, pinning me down.
Whenever I lifted my head to try and free myself you would shove my head into the pillows forcefully from your hand on the back of my neck.
It felt like it was never going to end, it felt like forever.
I still have no idea how the opportunity to free myself from you came about, what came over me, or how I managed to free myself from you, all I remember is that I managed to do a kick roll type of manoeuvre flicking you off my back.
I didn’t think I would have enough time because of how I was feeling, but I had enough time to grab my things, put my clothes on and run out the door because your mother woke up to me crying, she was amazing she didn’t care what was going on, all she cared about was saving me from you.
I don’t know how she did it, but she blocked you from running after me. I thought she would have just seen me out the door and then shut it and gone, but she guided me out the front making sure I was okay until I crossed the road.
She told me to ring the police if I needed to and report you… I couldn’t I was too ashamed of the nature it, but I always wished I had the courage to.
The impact of this has not only been psychological but physical too, because I have sclerosis of the sacroiliac joint a condition where the lower back meets the pelvis.
Apart from taking away a “normal” young adulthood… you took from me my ability to be comfortable meeting new people.
You took my self-worth, confidence and self- esteem.
The relationships with those I loved changed because of what you did.
You took away my ability to make judgements and decisions, my self-power and self- determination.
I know there is more that you took, but its hard to think about and put it into the right words.
This stops today, you no longer can leave your wrath of turmoil over my mind body and soul. I want to say that from today it will be erased from my memory, but the truth is I can’t do that fully, because to do that I would lose sight of something which shaped me into the person I am today.
So, I’ll get rid of all the ill attachments associated with this memory and carry on working on rebuilding the things which you took from me, which 15 years on, I still don’t know if they will ever get fully restored to how it used to be.
I have no idea how to end this letter off, its possibly one of the strangest letters I’ve written because its normal to end off letters wishing people the best or warmest regards but I don’t want to wish you that. I hope you’ve had your day…
Our laws protect and enable rapists.
Our laws make it hard to get help for people who have been raped.
Our laws need to change.
The Government makes the laws.
These are my numbers
Rape is like a silent pandemic in Australia. I am one psychologist.
• 1000 sexual assaults.
• 300 men.
• 950 the rapist was known
• 1000 believed it was their fault
• 50 women reported to police
• 0 men reported to police
• 5 were charged and 1 was convicted.
• 1000 had mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, most used alcohol or drugs to stop replaying the rape over and over. Many, especially, the men had been convicted of violent assaults, some rape.
Full recover is possible. Most have required three to five years of treatment.