Brittany Higgins releases statement after Justice Lee ruled Bruce Lehrmann raped her

Hannah Cross
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins.
Former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Brittany Higgins has broken her silence following the conclusion of the drawn-out defamation case between alleged rapist Bruce Lehrmann and journalist Lisa Wilkinson and Network 10.

In a statement posted to Instagram on Saturday, Ms Higgins called out the “toxic culture” inside Parliament House and thanked Justice Michael Lee for his “trauma-informed approach, recognising that reactions to assault can vary wildly”.

The Federal Court sensationally dismissed the case on Monday, accompanied by excoriating comments from Justice Michael Lee.

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In his findings — made to the civil standard of the balance of probabilities — Justice Lee concluded: “Mr Lehrmann raped Ms Higgins.”

He said that Lehrmann was more likely than not “hell-bent on having sex” with Ms Higgins when the pair returned to parliament on the morning of March 23, 2019.

”In his pursuit of gratification, he did not care one way or another whether Ms Higgins understood or agreed to what was going on,” Justice Lee said.

Ms Higgins said she felt “compelled to tell my story” and described the many impacts it has had on her life.

READ THE FULL STATEMENT:

“I was raped. No judgment was ever going to change this truth.

“I lived with the shame, humiliation, and fear of what telling my story would mean for my life and career, like so many other victim survivors.

“I was scared I wouldn’t be believed or supported.

“The toxic culture in Parliament House was not something I just imagined.

“For decades, women working in Parliament House have not been heard.

“There was no safe space for them to speak up or raise serious complaints.

“I felt compelled to tell my story.

“Thousands of staff working in Commonwealth Ministerial offices, from every side of politics, came forward and contributed to the Jenkins Review.

“Their stories, like mine, have shone a light on the conditions that have fed such a toxic culture and been willfully ignored for too long.

“My health, memory and relationships have been impacted by my rape.

“I was devastated that a rapist was given a nationwide platform to maintain his lies about what happened. I trust that those who contributed in any way to the program will reflect on their decision.

“Thanks to Justice Lee for his trauma informed approach, recognising that reactions to assault can vary wildly.

“In doing so, I hope he has set a new precedent for how courts consider the testimonies of victim survivors of sexual assault.

“While I do not agree with all of Justice Lee’s findings, I do respect his observations about the many people scarred and damaged in the aftermath of my rape.

“All the various people who have been unwittingly wrapped up in years’ worth of media discourse and legal battles in relation to my rape.

“I want to particularly point out my family, who have been such an incredible support. They’ve been so strong, faced a seemingly unrelenting barrage of hate and have consistently held me together at times when I thought I would fall apart.

“Senator Reynolds and Fiona Brown have also been hurt and for that I am also sorry. My perceptions and feelings about what happened in the days and weeks after my rape are different from theirs. I deeply regret we have not yet found common ground.

“I hope we can resolve our differences with a better understanding of each other’s experience.

“I was 24 when I was raped in Parliament House.

“It has been five years of criminal and civil trials and government inquiries for the truth to finally be heard.

“It is now time to heal.”

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Sexual Assault Resource Centre 1800 199 888

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