Facebook users have taken to the Liberal Party of Australia’s profile page in droves, making a series of “disgusting” comments that blame former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins for her own alleged rape.
Last week, news.com.au broke the story about the then-24-year-old’s alleged sexual assault at Parliament House, after a night drinking with colleagues in March 2019.
In the days since, three other women – including another former Liberal Party staffer and a former Liberal Party volunteer – have come forward, claiming that they too either received unwelcome advances or were assaulted by Ms Higgins’ alleged rapist, a colleague who was regarded as a “rising star” in the party.
An investigation into workplace culture at Parliament House has also been established, while Ms Higgins re-engaged with Australian Federal Police on Friday to “proceed with a formal complaint regarding the crime committed against me in what should be the safest building in Australia”.
As The Project’s Lisa Wilkinson rightfully pointed out last night, Ms Higgins deserves to be commended for her bravery and, “in the face of enormous political pressure, both publicly and privately, refusing to be silenced”.
“This week you changed the national conversation for survivors of sexual assault, you told us of the shocking culture at Parliament House, and what women supporting women should actually look like. We hope that now you truly do get the justice you have for far too long been denied,” Wilkinson said.
But Ms Higgins’ example of “what women supporting women should actually look like” still fell on deaf ears for some, who took to the LNP Facebook page to prove how entrenched the victim blaming narrative in Australia really is.
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Swarming the comments on a Saturday video of Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaking from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, men and a number of women spread the disturbing rhetoric, accusing Ms Higgins of “crying wolf to make money out of her stupid behaviour”.
“What happened to that female is her responsibility ScoMo didn’t get her drunk and take her to an office that she had no right to be in She knew what she was doing,” one woman wrote underneath the video.
In response to the comment, another woman wrote that “I totally agree with you”.
“That woman consented the moment she got drunk and willing went to a out of bounds empty office. What was she thinking they were going to do. Have tea and biscuits??” she went on.
“Women who think their career is the most important part of their life are dreaming. IF she was raped will (sic) then she chose her career over getting a man accountable for his actions.”
“Why did she go there in the first place,” another wrote, adding, “I think she made a lot of poor decisions that night.”
“How come it has taken her almost two years to say anything?” one user wrote.
“I do not condone what has happened to this girl BUT why she was so drunk that she passed out in this job she waited all her life for. Does she bear any responsibility for what happened?” said another woman.
A 2018 National Community Attitudes Survey on violence against women found that 23 per cent of Australians believe women exaggerate the problem of male violence, while almost a third believe that a lot of times women who say they were raped had “led the man on” and then had regrets.
“When victim-blaming attitudes are held by a substantial proportion of people, or influential people such as police, judges and health professionals, they can present barriers to victims seeking support or reporting the abuse,” a piece forThe Conversation read.
“Such attitudes also shift responsibility away from the perpetrators of violence, contributing to a culture in which perpetrator behaviour is at best not clearly condemned, or at worst, is actively condoned.”
Last week, Ms Higgins – who has said she felt as though pursuing a police complaint after the alleged rape would end her career – condemned the Prime Minister for his own “victim-blaming rhetoric”, expressing fury that she was only learning key details from the media – not her own colleagues – in the aftermath of the alleged attack.
“I didn’t know that security guards let me into Minister Reynolds suite,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I didn’t know that 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. I didn’t know that they debated calling an ambulance at the time of the incident.
“The continued victim-blaming rhetoric by the prime minister is personally very distressing to me and countless other survivors.”
News.com.au has contacted the Liberal Party for comment.