The victim of an alleged daylight rape at an East Ballina beach in 2016 has told a court how the event destroyed her future and left her terrified and traumatised.
Preparing to study nursing at university and working full-time, the woman’s life changed forever when she went to the beach and was approached by a 33-year-old man about 10.30 am.
There wasn’t one part of the then 29-year-old’s life wasn’t ‘hugely damaged since I was raped on the 3rd of July’, the woman told Lismore District Court during the trial of Michael Jeffreys.
‘Before I was attacked I was the type of person who would give anyone a chance,’ she said.
‘I could easily talk to strangers.
‘I didn’t stereotype or judge anyone.
‘I was trusting and empathetic and optimistic.
Now she said she lives in constant fear of almost everyone.
‘I see strangers especially men as dangerous and threatening,’ she said.
‘When someone approaches me for something simple like directions I now suffer from panic and anxiety attacks, fearful that they may randomly and violently attack me like he did.
‘Before I was raped, I considered public places like the beach to be safe.
‘I considered the daylight hours to be safe.
‘Now, no place and no time is safe.
‘I am on constant alert, living in a constant state of fear.’
It took months after the alleged attack for the woman to be able to leave her home without having an anxiety attack.
‘The first time I did go out was with my mum to get some lunch from the local shopping centre, but I could only managed to stay for half a sandwich before she had to take me home because I was panicking,’ she said.
‘Before I was raped, I was happy and healthy.
‘Now, I have to see a counsellor.
‘I hardly sleep.
‘Every night I am kept awake trying to stop the flashbacks replaying in my mind.
‘I have nightmares, remembering the terrifying and determined look in his eyes as I begged him to stop.
‘I constantly relive the feeling of fearing for my life.
‘I often lay awake at night wondering if I would have died, had it not been for the family that heard me screaming desperately for help.’
It was these desperate screams that attracted the attention of a family who chased the man and detained him until police arrived.
The 33-year-old was arrested and taken to Ballina police station where he was charged with sexual intercourse without consent and refused bail.
Plans for her future were destroyed.
‘I had been working in an aged care home for 35 plus hours a week, which I loved, and I was due to start a nursing career at University,’ she said.
Those dreams were stripped away when I was raped.
‘I was unable to start university because I could barely leave my home, let alone be in a room full of strangers in an unfamiliar place.
‘I also now find it difficult to concentrate or focus, which would have hindered my studies.’
After struggling to return to full-time work, resulting in financial pressures, the woman said she received the ‘horrifying’ results of medical tests done following the incident.
‘Just when I felt like my life was starting to get a little back on track, I received the results of medical tests performed as part of the police investigation the day I was raped,’ she said.
‘I was horrified to learn that his semen had been discovered inside of me.
‘I thought that things couldn’t get much worse than being attacked and raped by a violent stranger in a public place, and then further violated by extensive physical tests in the hospital immediately afterwards.
‘But then hearing the results and worrying if that rapist had passed on a disease to me, or if I was pregnant as a result of the rape, created a new level of intense trauma for me.
Before the alleged incident the woman said she was confident of enjoying the final months of her 20’s.
‘I recently turned 30, feeling a complete loss of self worth,’ she said.
‘He stole my dignity.
On the 3rd of July, I was no longer a person – I became an object, made to feel like a piece of rubbish to be used and discarded in the sand dunes.
‘The bruises have gone, but the damage will be there for the rest of my life.’
Mr Jeffreys’ matters have been adjourned until October 4 at Lismore District Court.