"Yes, discussion of child sexual abuse is uncomfortable. But nothing is more uncomfortable than the abuse itself.”
Last month, 2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, used her unique position in the spotlight to catapult various issues – in particular child sexual abuse – to the forefront of Australian minds in just a short, 5-minute speech. From the age of 15, Grace was groomed and abused by her 58-year-old mathematics teacher.
"Publicly he described his crimes as 'awesome' and 'enviable'. Publicly I was silenced by law.”
Under Tasmania’s gag laws, Grace was unable to speak out against her abuser, whilst the media and perpetrator himself were allowed to create a circus. Most notably, the media suggested that Grace was complicit in the abuse, insinuating an affair. Her abuser, following multiple stints in prison for his crimes, went as far as claiming himself the victim due to the (deserved) loss of his marriage, family and career. Grace could do nothing but look on in horror as the law prevented her from publicly self-identifying as the victim, and thus defending her side of the story.
After years of battling Tasmania’s Supreme Court, and over $10,000 in legal fees, Grace was able to obtain a court exemption to finally speak out against her abuser. With her newfound voice, in less than 2 years, she has gained the attention and support of the #metoo movement, international celebrities, and organisations, including the The Los Angeles Human Trafficking Squad. A world leader in its field, the Squad worked with Grace to understand how child grooming manifests and functions. She now uses her rise to fame to promote her #LetHerSpeak movement, and work to have the gag laws abolished in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, the only Australian States left that harbour this cruel rule.
Not all survivors of sexual abuse, child or otherwise, have the means to fight the legal system in order to share their stories and take down their abusers. Hence, it was highly commendable to see Grace, in her mere 5-minute speech, acknowledge the intersectionality of this issue and others, and how often First Nations people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI community and other marginalised groups face even greater barriers to justice. Not only is she using her voice and position to advocate for her own case, but Grace demonstrates a fiery determination to help others. The team at Me by Aleenta cannot wait to see where Grace leads her movement in the future, and are truly inspired by her valiant efforts in sharing her story.
Written By Sascha Czuchwicki
Me By Aleenta Content Coordinator & Trainer