Australian of the Year Grace Tame has described for the first time how being sexually abused as a child made her later fall into a series of violent relationships as she issued an urgent call for a drastic upgrade of education for children about respect and consent.
“We really need to be having the conversations as early as possible with our children who are our future about respectful behaviour, about consent,” said Ms Tame, who became an anti-abuse campaigner after she was groomed and raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher from the age of 15. “Because this is just, this is just awful.”
“As well as being a survivor of paedophilia … because I had no frame of reference after that, I got into violent relationship after violent relationship.
“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.”
Appearing on Q+A with Ms Tame, prominent Indigenous anthropologist and public intellectual Marcia Langton backed her comments, saying she and other experts had found a clear pattern when looking at police data and interviewing women who had survived abuse.
“Young women go into their first intimate relationship, the person is abusive and violent, and they know very little about the situation they’re in,” Professor Langton said. “They’re not able to make decisions, they don’t have enough support and don’t know where to go.
“By the time they figure it out, in the cases that we’ve come across, they are maimed, traumatised, damaged for life, lost their children, and then they are targeted by yet another abuser and so you have a pattern of serial abuse.