CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape.

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who was allegedly raped by a colleague inside Parliament House, has hit back at the comments made by her former boss, Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, in which she called the alleged rape survivor “a lying cow”.

Higgins was allegedly raped in Reynolds’ parliamentary office by another staffer in 2019. Reynolds privately made the “lying cow” remark among the current staffers in her office in February of this year when the allegations became public.

“The comments made by Minister Reynolds are incredibly hurtful,” Higgins said in a statement on Thursday.

“I appreciate that it has been a stressful time but that sort of behaviour and language is never excusable.”

Late on Wednesday night, a spokesperson for Reynolds clarified that she believed Higgins, and that the “lying cow” comment was supposedly referring to Higgins’ recollection of events after the night she was allegedly raped.

Higgins went on to say that Reynolds’ comments are just a reflection of the kind of workplace she had to deal with in the aftermath of her alleged rape.

“It’s just further evidence of the toxic workplace culture that exists behind closed doors in Parliament House,” she said.

While Reynolds admitted that the comments were made behind closed doors and in the heat of the moment, it still reflects terribly on herself and on a government that is consistently fucking up its handling of rape and sexual assault allegations.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted the comments were pretty horrible, too, but asked people not to be too hard on Reynolds.

“I’m sure that all of you have found yourself, at a time of frustration, perhaps saying things you regret,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“And I would simply ask you, given the comment was made in a private place, that you offer the same generosity to how you perceive something you might have said, and perhaps apply the same standard to Linda Reynolds who, at the time, was under significant stress.

“She deeply regrets it. They were offensive remarks. She should never have made them. I don’t condone them. But what matters is that we continue to address the substance of the issues here, as we are.”

Reynolds is currently on medical leave.

Help is available.

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Image: Getty Images / Sam Mooy