The damage Morrison has done to survivors is incalculable

12 Mar

Warning: discusses rape, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault. 

It is damnably difficult to single out any aspect of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to allegations that his attorney general, Christian Porter, anally raped sixteen year-old Kate in 1988, as particularly heinous. All his responses have been appalling.

However, for mine, Morrison reached a nadir (bearing in mind the matter has not run its course, there is still plenty of opportunity for him to go lower) when he declared that Christian Porter is “an innocent man under the law.” 

Morrison made this declaration while simultaneously boasting that he has not read the statement left by Kate, in which she details the offences Porter allegedly committed against her. 

This sorry state of affairs will be familiar to many survivors of sexual abuse and rape, both in childhood and as adults. Many of us have known similar injustice, when our words have been ignored or denigrated, while the word of the man who assaulted us is unquestioningly accepted. To find ourselves witnessing this yet again at the highest levels of government, is a bitter and re-traumatising experience that inevitably evokes profoundly disturbing memories and emotions.

I learned early that nothing I said would be believed. Over time, I told several adults what was being done to me by my stepfather, who was a doctor. Perhaps I’m wrong and someone did believe me, however, nobody helped me. It wasn’t until I was fifteen and the rapes had been a regular occurrence for five years that I finally found someone who heard me, and took action. 

I have no idea how I managed to keep on telling people. I have no idea either, how I managed to keep silent.

My matter never went to police, and so according to Prime Minister Morrison’s very personal interpretation of the law, my stepfather went to his grave “an innocent man under the law.” 

Morrison aims to confuse the presumption of innocence with his declaration of innocence, and his base will more than likely unquestioningly accept this spin. Christian Porter, like any other accused person, is entitled to the presumption of innocence. He remains, and will always remain, an alleged rapist entitled to the presumption of innocence. He cannot, however, be declared innocent, particularly by those who have not even read the allegations made against him. 

As far as I’m aware, a Prime Minister does not yet in this country have the power to declare accused criminals innocent or guilty.

Of course Morrison, in declaring Porter innocent, is also declaring his alleged victim Kate to be a liar, or delusional. Without reading her statement. This is not an unusual situation for victims of rape, csa, and sexual assault to find ourselves in. On top of the physical, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual damage we sustain through the assaults, we all too often must then face the disbelief and contempt of people unable to deal with our stories. There is the original violence done to us, and then there is the secondary violence done to us by those, like the Prime Minister, who will not listen.  

Morrison has told every survivor this week that he will not listen. He’s told every survivor that we will not be heard and we will not be believed. He has told every rapist who doesn’t face court that he’s an “innocent man.” The prime Minister has done untold damage to survivors, and set us back decades as a society.

In refusing to have an inquiry into the rape allegations against Porter, and his suitability to hold high office, Morrison is giving permission to every workplace to behave in a similar fashion. Morrison is in the process of undermining all the hard-won workplace processes and procedures specifically designed to deal with situations such as this one. It is sufficient, Morrison is telling us, for the accused to say “It didn’t happen.” From then on he is an “innocent man.”

However, this has not always been Morrison’s attitude to survivors. There was a time, not long ago, that the Prime Minister told us that women “should be believed.” Watch the video below. It is extraordinary that Morrison has swung so violently to the other extreme, as a consequence of his attorney general, Christian Porter, being the subject of rape allegations.

Quite the coincidence, isn’t it? 

4 Responses to “The damage Morrison has done to survivors is incalculable”

  1. Sam Jandwich March 12, 2021 at 2:28 pm #

    “The prime Minister has done untold damage to survivors, and set us back decades as a society.”

    I am in complete agreement on this. I was absolutely shocked and saddened to hear those words come from an Australian PM. Ever since Brittany Higgins’ story came to light he has given the impression of wanting the matter of sexual assault within our national Parliament to just go away, but even so it seemed unimaginable that his wilful ignorance and insensitivity would extend to trying to hide behind such a manifestly inadequate process and declare the situation with Christian Porter resolved.

    Not sure how to embed Twitter but:
    Michael Salter
    We just spent one third of a billion dollars on a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse but now the government claims that sexual assault allegations can only ever be assessed in a court of law.

    I do have some hope that we will find there is a critical mass of people who come out and demand that a sufficiently rigorous inquiry be held, but even if the PM’s hand is forced it is too late now to undo the damage he’s done (he’s never going to recant and apologise is he?)

    Though to my mind that damage applies equally to his own position. By taking this stance he has rendered his government illegitimate – and this isn’t going to change even if an inquiry finds Porter has a case to answer and he resigns. Could this result in another change of PM? Maybe so, though I shudder to think who might replace him. Ultimately I just hope the opposition parties can pursue him effectively on this up to the next election.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mal Kukura March 14, 2021 at 12:49 am #

    I wonder too why there is such incredulity that another politician shows himself to be about as human as a monkey, Born Again? Spiritually dead is more like it. Greedy parasites.


  3. doug quixote March 14, 2021 at 11:01 pm #

    The parallels are there, in almost any organisation you can name – whenever a member of the organisation is under attack, the organisation closes ranks. The tribe defends and protects its own.The tribal response can range from direct counter attack and outright denial through to head in the sand avoidance.

    Morrison would like to be seen as a moderate, a middle of the road politician – but mediocre is rarely thought to be a compliment. As Churchill said about Atlee, he is a modest man – for he has much to be modest about.

    Morrison’s support of Porter (or any other member of his particular tribe under attack) is as predictable as it is lame and callous. He seeks to keep the tribe whole, to preserve a perceived valuable member and one once slated for further advancement.

    However, to judge from the incandescent rage now evident in the community, if Morrison wants to save his own job (always his number one priority) he needs to cut Porter loose.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane Rayner March 27, 2021 at 5:50 pm #

    What a slap in the face for survivors and a brutal warning to people currently suffering CSA, rape in domestic situations, or at the hsnds of a friend, acquaintance, workmate or unknown assailant!
    I have never been able to understand why a victim’s past sexual history is in any way pertinent to an accusation of rape. No barrister ever questions the credibility of a victim of robbery because they’ve had money in their wallet in the past.
    Past sexual history is irrelevant. Nobody consents to rape. Why can’t people, particularly men, accept that?


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