Higgins breaks silence after rape finding

Higgins breaks silence after rape finding

Brittany Higgins has shared a statement five days after a federal court judge ruled she was raped by Bruce Lehrmann in Parliament House.

On Monday, Justice Lee dismissed Lehrmann’s lawsuit against Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson after finding – to the civil standard of the balance of probabilities – that he had raped Ms Higgins inside Parliament House in March 2019.

In a post shared to her Instagram stories on Saturday, Higgins said: “I was raped. No Judgement was ever going to change the 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.”

She said she was not prepared for the “toxic culture” she encountered in Parliament House and felt that women were given no safe space to raise complaints.

“The toxic culture in Parliament House was not something I just imagined,’’ she said.

“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.”

Higgins referenced the Jenkins Review during which thousands of staff from Commonwealth Ministerial offices contributed to the review of the governments efforts to prevent bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in 2021.

“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,” she said.

She said the impact of the rape has had long-lasting effects on her “health, memory and relationships”.

“I was devastated that a rapist was given a nationwide platform to maintain his lies about what happened,” she said.

“I trust that those who contributed in any way to the program will reflect on their decision.”

Higgins then thanked Justice Lee for taking into a “trauma-informed approach” to his judgement, adding that it would set a new precedent for how to deal with the testimony of rape victims.

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

“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.”

Higgins then thanked her family, including both her parents who gave testimony during the defamation trial.

“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.”

She also apologised to Senator Linda Reynolds, who is currently pursuing defamation action against Ms Higgins and her partner David Sharaz, over social media posts which she argues damaged her reputation.

“Senator Reynolds and Fiona Brown have also been hurt and for that I am also sorry,” she said.

“My perceptions and feelings about what happened in the days and weeks after my rape are different from theirs.

“I deeply regret that we have not yet found common ground.

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

Finally, Ms Higgins said she is looking forward to having time to heal after five years of court proceedings and media attention.

“I was 24 when I was raped in Parliament House,’’ she said.

“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.”