CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses domestic violence.

Australian of the Year Grace Tame used her Q+A appearance to speak publicly for the first time about being in a number of physically abusive relationships as an adult, while calling for stronger violence prevention measures.

Tame has been an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual abuse after she went public about how she was groomed and raped by her high school maths teacher as a teen, overturning laws which gagged survivors in the process. But she’s rarely spoken about the domestic violence she’s suffered as an adult.

“I don’t often talk about this – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever said it publicly – but as well as being a survivor of pedophilia […] because I had no frame of reference, after that I got into violent relationship after violent relationship,” she said.

“I mean I lived with a man who used to punch holes in the walls, spit in my eyes, punch me in the head, choke me, push me to the ground, and I can honestly say that responses, and intervention, and punishment doesn’t really stop the problem in a lot of cases.

“We really need to be injecting funds and putting our attention on preventing these things from happening in the first place.”

Tame opened about about these experiences in response to a question from homicide victim advocate Eileen Culleton, whose sister Anne-Marie was raped and murdered by Jonathan Bakewell in 1988.

Although Bakewell was sentenced to life in prison, he was granted parole in 2004, which he has since breached four times. Culleton is now calling for murder with sexual assault to be made a standalone crime carrying a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Tame said that she supports harsher sentencing herself, but also wants to see much more focus on preventing this culture of rape and violence against women in the first place.

“That’s part of the solution, harsher sentences, but I come back to the issue of prevention,” she said.

“We really need to be having these conversations as early as possible with our children who are our future about respectful behaviour, about consent, and so on, and so forth.”

You can watch the full Q+A episode here.


Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic 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.

Image: ABC