'I would never report': Age readers tell of seeking justice for rape, sex assault

Amy was 14 when she was allegedly raped in the Geelong suburb of St Albans Park. The challenge of bringing her alleged attackers to court proved too traumatic for Amy and the trial was discontinued. Amy's experience has prompted readers of TheAge to come forward to anonymously tell of their attempts to seek justice for sexual assault and rape.

"I would never report again"

"I have been sexually assaulted twice in my life, once at the age of 10 and once at the age of 17. I never reported the rape at age 11, and after going through the hell that was reporting at 18 I am so, so grateful to my younger self that I didn't. If I had gone through as a child what I have gone through the last two years I wouldn't have survived.

I suffered a lot of guilt over not reporting what happened to me and fear that it would happen to another girl because of me. That fear prompted me to report the second assault. More than two years later, it's still making its way through the court system and the court process has been equally as disruptive in my life as the assault itself.

Being scrutinised on the stand and having questions fired at you, trying to blame you, is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I get anxiety watching any kind of legal drama or court case scenes on TV as I recall the horrific feeling in my gut when I was on the stand.

Everything I stand for from a [human] rights perspective makes me want to think that reporting is the right thing, and that I can't let another man get away with assaulting a woman. But reporting has not been the right thing for me. It has affected me deeply, affected my trust in the justice system and affected me mentally. I would never report a sexual assault again.

"Massive failure"

"I completely sympathise with the young woman. I was indecently assaulted by a teacher when I was 12, and it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I had the courage to report it. The teacher hired a bulldog barrister who insisted on grilling me for hours over an incident which was very simple and happened very quickly. Even the court staff were telling me how horrible the barrister was being. It never progressed to a trial, but the process was so traumatic that I can't imagine a child being able to cope with that, especially one allegedly raped. There needs to be change, so many victims are being re-traumatised through the "justice" system.

"Nothing can help us"

"My teenage daughter was abducted, imprisoned and raped during a holiday. She was missing for many hours and I feared the worst. As soon as we returned home she told another family member, who took her to the hospital. The perpetrator was charged with dozens of sexual offences. The rapist contracted a lawyer and sought to have the charges downgraded from rape. But for that to happen my daughter would be required to sign a statement saying she was a "willing participant". Right from the start she had said she did not want charges laid. But finally, in sheer exhaustion, she signed. After that she became unable to write anything at all. School was out of the question. She became completely housebound for over 10 years. She has had many hours of therapy with many different therapists. She gradually became more able to interact outside home, but it is still hugely difficult for her. The therapy has helped a lot with the rape trauma. But nothing can help her, or us, with the fact that a child had to say that she had consented to being raped.

*Some details have been changed for legal reasons

Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1800 806 292

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The story 'I would never report': Age readers tell of seeking justice for rape, sex assault first appeared on The Age.