Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins has come out swinging against Scott Morrison‘s “victim-blaming rhetoric”, two days after she went public with allegations that she was raped inside Parliament House by a colleague in 2019.
Morrison claimed he didn’t know about the allegations until now, despite the fact that two staff members from his office were involved in handling the response to Higgins’ allegations at the time.
Then came his weird apology, in which he demonstrated that he can apparently only feel empathy for alleged survivors if he can compare their trauma to the imagined experiences of his own daughters – and only after his wife talked him through it.
But worse was the victim-blaming language of his statement, where at one point he even doubted Higgins’ recollection of events by claiming that “information can become confused over time about who makes contact.”
“The continued victim-blaming rhetoric by the Prime Minister is personally very distressing to me and countless other survivors,” Higgins said in a statement on Wednesday.
She went on to point out that so much of the info surrounding her alleged rape, such as CCTV footage from that night, remained hidden from her until she went public with her story two years later.
“I have only been made aware of key elements of my own sexual assault as a result of coming forward publicly with my story,” she continued.
“I didn’t know that security guards let me into [then-Defense Industry Minister Linda Reynolds‘] suite.
“I didn’t know that a security guards came into the office multiple times seeing me in a state of undress.
“I didn’t know they were undertaking an internal review into how the matter was handled at the time of the incident.”
None of this information was available when Higgins first alerted her boss at the time, Linda Reynolds, to the alleged incident.
“A current senior staffer to the Prime Minister and my former Chief-of-Staff refused to provide me with access to the CCTV footage from that evening and continually made me feel as if my ongoing employment would be jeopardised if I proceeded any further with the matter,” Higgins said.
This thing has now snowballed into something much bigger than Higgins’ alleged rape.
Higgins’ allegations and the PM’s woefully delayed, victim-blaming response show that there’s an entire toxic culture within Canberra that needs to be addressed. It’s no longer just about her alleged rapist.
Higgins made herself clear: “The government has questions to answer for their own conduct.”
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.