Even before Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame stood up to speak at the National Press Club today, I found myself shaking. Not in excitement at what these amazing young women might say, not in anticipation of any criticism or suggestions they might make, not because of any particular personal memory – my mind was blank, the feeling was visceral.
As Ms Higgins spoke, my breathing became more ragged. The tears that had been welling up in my eyes overflowed. Ms Tame took the floor and the tears kept coming accompanied by the occasional sob.
I wanted to listen to them but found I wasn’t actually paying attention to their words. I, along with the rest of the country, already knew the most intimate details of their trauma. I knew how both of these young women had been let down. I knew the attempts to silence them and to then use them as political pawns.
And I cried.
I cried because their experiences should never have happened – they should have been safe.
I cried for all the women and children who should have been safe.
I cried in anger and frustration at our failure to make them safe – to prevent the dehumanising harm that endemic violence causes.
I cried that power is wasted on those whose only aim is to stay in power by whatever means it takes.
I cried with pride.
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