The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) has slammed Aussie media for its conduct in regards to Brittany Higgins‘ sexual assault allegations and accused journalists of contacting it for information on Higgins to “discredit” her.
The CRCC’s CEO Chrystina Stanford published an open letter on the centre’s website on Tuesday titled “You are telling the wrong story” which called out the nasty behaviour.
“Recently CRCC have been contacted by media a number of times asking us to confirm different things that relate to Brittany Higgins,” the open letter read.
“The reason seems to be to publish yet another story aimed at shaming, blaming, and discrediting a young woman. A young woman who very well could be our friend, partner, child. In fact she is all of those things… It is the wrong story.
“These are not positive experiences for us, as we were contacted in an attempt to… criticise a young person publicly, to tear at her story, her life and her pain. The media wanted us to join the circus, we wanted no part of it.”
Stanford then implored the media to reconsider how its headlines and reporting can further stigmatise sexual assault survivors.
“Sexual violence has terrible consequences for children, adults and young people. It divides communities, and silences people. It causes disconnection, creates grief and its prevalence rates shock and horrify us all!” she wrote.
“In response we pick at the story to put holes in it, act in disbelief, blame the victim, shame the impacted! By doing this we close the door on them, we make them feel like they can’t seek help and are taking the easy way out.
“How can we ever move through this time and be better at responding to sexual violence if we are hurting people more as we dissect their lives publicly and consistently?
“How will those impacted by sexual violence ever tell their stories, if we weaponise sexual violence in this way?”
Stanford encouraged media to ask productive questions, instead of targeting Higgins’ credibility.
“We wanted the media to ask about the Australian sexual violence prevalence rates: 1 in 2 women, 1 in 3 girls, 1 in 6 boys, and 1 in 16 men.
“We wanted them to ask about why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are sexually assaulted more, and why disabled people are targeted for sexual violence, or young people, or those from the LGBTQIA+ communities.
“We wanted them to ask how we are working towards a world where there is no sexual violence, and how they could help end the impact of these horrendous crimes. We wanted them to ask about how the local government joined together to try and work out how to fix this problem.
“We wanted them to ask about where to go to for help?
“That is the right story… The real story… The one with concern, compassion and humanity… Lets try for that story!”
Brittany Higgins, a former Liberal staffer, accused Bruce Lehrmann of raping her in Parliament House in 2019.
He was originally charged for the assault, but these charges have since been dropped and there are no findings against him.
Lehrmann maintains his innocence.