This speech was delivered by author and investigative journalist Jess Hill, at the #March4Justice rally in Sydney on Monday, 15th March.
Thank you to the Eora people of the Gadigal nation for welcoming us on their land in a week that has already been so distressing, with three Indigenous deaths in custody. Thank you for your solidarity.
I also pay homage to the survivors in this audience – I know there are so many of you out there, and your courage blows me away every day.
The strength of this crowd – the power of this moment – is almost overwhelming.
Who here is angry?
Who here is tired?
And who here is determined to make this moment count??
Just before the attorney general gave his press conference a fortnight ago, I received a message warning that the media was about to be be backgrounded on Kate’s mental health.
This a is tactic called DARVO >
Deny, Attack and Reverse Victim and Offender.
It works like this:
The alleged perpetrator – and their supporters – denies the allegation, they attack the victim’s credibility, and then reverse the role of victim and offender so that it looks like the alleged perpetrator is the real victim.
The attack is intended to chill and terrify the victim and their supporters, and it often includes legal threats.
It took just THREE DAYS for this DARVO to be deployed against Kate.
Kate had sought therapy, she had read a bestselling book about trauma, and she had undergone EMDR therapy – a standard trauma treatment that is subsidised by Medicare.
Apparently that was evidence that this may be just another case of falsely recovered memories.
Crikey reporter David Hardaker wrote: ‘Is it possible that the discredited and dangerous practice of recovered memory has now ensnared an attorney general?’
I read that at midnight and messaged friends in a panic. It didn’t matter that Kate had been talking to friends about this since the time of the alleged incident. We were enraged, despairing – this is how it always happens.
But then something different happened. All of you were there. You saw what was happening. You called it out. You refused to let this narrative win.
The best response came from Leslie Cannold: There is something exquisitely screwed up about a society that abuses women in ways that cause trauma, and then uses the mental illness that trauma can provoke as evidence that they were never really abused in the first place.
On Saturday, the Australian ran an article by Janet Albrechtsen and Peter Van Onselen, a longtime personal friend of Porter’s, publishing diary entries from Kate that had been submitted to South Australian police, and distributed to various politicians.
I cannot think of anything more foul and unethical than a journalist publishing the traumatic diary entries of a woman who suicided after accusing his *friend* of violently raping her. And then goading readers to conclude that said diary entries must raise doubts about her allegations.
But you are all here today – because you are not having any of it.
Because you know there are two stages of perpetration. The first stage is the attack, or the abuse.
The second stage is the silencing. And the silencing is the betrayal. And that is how the trauma truly takes root.
We can’t all be there at the time of the attack. We can’t stop that trauma from taking place.
But we can be there for the second stage. And we are here today to say that Brittany will not be silenced, Dhanya will not be silenced – victim survivors will not be silenced. Not on our watch. Not now. Not ever.
So let me ask you. When this march is over, will you be silent?
Next week, will you be silent?
Will you ever be silenced again?
Right now, the Morrison government is banking on the media running out of interest, another big story taking its place, the public forgetting.
But they have underestimated us.
We will not let these traumas be banished.
We will not go back underground.
The time for silence is over.
We will be counted, and if you do not make your ministers accountable – and upend your oppressive systems – you will pay the price for ignoring us.
Christian Porter deserves the presumption of innocence. But Kate’s allegations are credible, and they must be investigated. If he wants to hold public office, he must face an inquiry. There is no other option.
Thank you for your courage,
thank you for your love,
Thank you for your nerve and your determination.
thank you for showing all survivors that they are not alone.
That they now have an army of lovers and fighters behind them.
Let’s make this stick.