WARNING: Graphic content
It’s 2019. We’ve seen the highs and the lows of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Sexual predators have been exposed, and some of them have been rightfully punished for their crimes. And the world seems to be rallying around victims of abuse, supporting them if and when they find the courage to tell their stories.
It’s 2019, but sexual abuse survivors in Tasmania and the Northern Territory are legally gagged from sharing their stories.
The law, known as Section 194K of the Evidence Act, prevents any person from naming a sexual assault survivor even if they consent to share their story. It means that if any survivor does speak out under their real name, any publication which names them could be persecuted and fined for contempt of court.
If that’s not just fundamentally fkn wrong, I don’t know what is.
And it is this law that has meant Grace Tame is only the fourth woman in Tasmania to put her name to her truth of her abuse story.
The story of
‘Jane Doe’ Grace
At 15, Grace Tame was sexually assaulted by her, then, 58-year-old high school teacher, Nicolaas Bester.
For one year, Grace was groomed and assaulted on the grounds of St. Michael’s Collegiate Girls school in Hobart before she found the courage to report him in April 2011.
In August that year, the paedophile teacher was sentenced to just two years and six months imprisonment or “approximately 20 to 30” instances of sexual assault committed against her (which is a whole other thing to get mad about). He only served 18 months.
While Bester enrolled in a PhD at the University of Tasmania, Grace’s life was falling apart. It seemed everyone was talking about Grace’s assault. It was labelled by the media as a “relationship”, a “tryst”, and “affair”. This gave Grace’s peers more ammunition, bullying her under the misguided impression she was, somehow, a “homewrecker”.
In February 2015, Bester made a social media post which graphically detailed his assaults against Grace. He grossly boasted about how “the majority of men in Australia envy me. I was 59. She was 15 going on 25 … It was awesome.”
So, at this point, everyone had their say on Grace’s assault. Everyone except the person who really mattered: Grace.
“Journalists, commentators, and even my perpetrator have all been able to publicly discuss my case. I’m the only one who hasn’t been allowed to. It’s not just illogical, it’s cruel.” Grace said to news.com.au
In November 2018 news.com.au, with End Rape On Campus Australia and Marque Lawyers launched the #LetHerSpeak campaign.
Their Megaphone.org petition earned more than 5000 signatures, and the international support of celebrities like Alyssa Milano, comedians John and Camilla Cleese, and Tara Moss. And their GoFundMe page has raised over $3,000.
Grace took her individual fight for her right to be named to the Supreme Court. And praise the fucking Gods, she won. Making her the fourth person in Tasmania to be given permission to share her face, her name, and her truth about her own assault.
“Perpetrators thrive on victim silence and community misconceptions of these crimes. I want to help educate parents and other members of the community about the warning signs of grooming.” she said to news.com.au
YES! But also, um, what the actual ???
I’m so proud of Grace, the victims that have come before her, and for Nina Funnell and news.com.au for winning the right to put a name to their own abuse story. I’m so proud of what this small step means in the grand scheme of law reform. But I’m still fucking mad.
Victims of sexual assault live in silence. Their predators demand it. Society has built a stigma and shame that perpetuates it. For government and the justice system fo punish victims for speaking out is shameful. Could I go as far as to say they’re as bad as the perpetrator? Yeah, I guess I just did.
Being allowed to speak, for a victim to share their own story, is all about rehumanising them. It’s about giving them back their power, returning their bodies and their voice that has been so brutally stripped from them.
How could you deny a scrap of power from someone without any, only to protect that of the abuser who stole it, and giving control to the peanut gallery of onlookers (yeah, that includes us media monkeys) to tell the story as they wish? How is it fair to only get one side of the story? And the side that we really don’t need amplified.
Give the voices back to those who have had it (and so much more) stolen from them. Make the change. It’s only fkn right.
You can watch Grace Tame’s full interview tonight on ABC’s 7.30 Report (at, you guessed it, 7.30). I reckon you should also spare some change to donate to their GoFundMe page and take a second to sign their petition, to show the government how important this law reform really is.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault support is available by calling 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Image Sources: @JournoJLaw Twitter