5 When you agreed to stand up, did you expect to have to tell your whole sexual abuse story?
No. I did think, “What have I done?” when the media seemed to seize on my story in particular but then you just had to ride it. We were getting messages from around the country saying, “You made me feel less alone” which helped us get over our discomfort about putting something so deeply awkward and personal out into the world. I have a very supportive family but I didn’t tell anybody about the abuse as a child. It happened at home – it was a distant cousin who has passed on. It was only as an adult that I was able to tell my family. This is what happens with sexual violence. It’s going to take more and more people speaking out to take away that shameful stigma.
6 Has identifying yourself as an abuse victim impacted on your effectiveness as an MP?
No. I’d already staked my reputation on speaking out about domestic and sexual violence as the lead panellist on the Owen Glenn Inquiry. If anything it gave me a bit more authenticity in that work. The sad reality is that if I was a stripper who’d gone through that experience rather than an MP I wouldn’t have been taken as seriously.