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November 30, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Alleged Rape of Brittany Higgins

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You want to know why women don’t come forward to report rape and sexual assault? This is the reason: Women are judged, shamed, blamed, and disbelieved. We allow our legal system to perpetuate the trauma.

In March 2019 a bubbly ambitious 25-year-old Brittany Higgins was allegedly raped in the office of Australia’s Defence minister. Now in October 2022 as she seeks justice, we get to bear witness to the legal system raping her again. This time it’s not on a couch, it’s in the seat of ‘justice’. It’s brutal to watch. 

It has taken bravery for Brittany to tell her story. To lie naked before us all. Every woman who has been raped who hasn’t stepped forward (which is most of us), has silently cheered and held our breath. We know the cost of courage. We know that sometimes it’s easier to bear the shame of the trauma than speak up. We know what happens to girls who speak up. They get taught a lesson. They get broken.

This girl shone the light on a culture of sexual misconduct, assault, and rape that lies deep at the heart of Australian politics. She broke the silence. She gathered the might of a country behind her. A country that for the most had the good sense to believe her. A country that was outraged that this alleged assault had happened to a vulnerable young woman in a setting that should be the gold star example of a safe workplace. 

I resent having to use the word ‘alleged’. Every time we use that word we tell the victim that we do not believe her. That she must revisit her trauma. That she must prove not just that the rape took place, that she is of good character. Because only ‘good’ girls are believed. And only ‘good’ girls will be protected because ‘bad’ girls can’t be raped. The legitimacy of her assault is contingent not on the guilt or innocence of the accused, but on the fact she is or is not a liar. It is on her character. Whether she was wearing underwear. Whether she was ambitious. Whether this was all a long game to keep her job. 

You want to know why women don’t come forward to report rape and sexual assault? This is the reason: Women are judged, shamed, blamed, and disbelieved. We allow our legal system to perpetuate the trauma. I am a mother of girls Brittany’s age. I imagine this happening to them. My girls are strong, and they have support, and while I know they would have a chance at surviving the trauma of a rape, I don’t know if they would survive this. The trauma of the legal system. The public shaming. The character assassination. 

What is happening to Ms Higgins right now is so wrong. Why are we letting this happen? Where is our outrage? Who is coming to HER defence?

It is the brutal assault of a patriarchy that wants us to know it can drag us unconscious to a couch and fuck us any time it wants. That tells us we are to blame. That wants to tell us we are worthless. That we have imagined this. That it didn’t happen, or that we are crazy. 

It’s what happens when you ask for help from the same system that perpetuated the harm. A system that rewards entitlement, enshrines privilege, and dares to call itself ‘justice’. 

We treat victims of property and financial crime with more respect than a rape victim. When a bank is robbed it is never an ‘alleged’ robbery. It is an alleged assailant. Why then must we say ‘alleged rape’? Why can’t it be an ‘alleged’ accused? It might seem insignificant but a bank never has to prove it was robbed. It doesn’t have to answer to a social morality about its choices. No-one says the bank has money so it was complicit. The bank gave consent. 

A woman is not a bank. But it’s never been clearer that this system has not been set up to protect our interests.

And in my opinion, for that harm, that failure to provide protection and care, there is no defence.

Rape is rape. 

And Brittany Higgins, for speaking up. For enduring the unendurable.

For staying strong. For being the one who won’t go away. The voice that won’t be silenced. She takes us all there.

She is a hero.

And that is not alleged.

It is proven.


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72 COMMENTS

  1. Brilliant article by Mandy Nolan, so horribly true!
    I was raped and beaten repeatedly decades ago in the sixties when it was(still is?) ok because I was married to the monster at the time.
    When seeking legal help to escape his brutality I was told there’s no such thing as rape in marriage… a husbands right……A doctor I sought help from told the husband at the time to “get your wife under control”
    I finally managed to escape with the help of a friend.
    Brittany’s treatment in her case is an echo of those times….. speak up and you’ll cop it!
    This is why so many women don’t speak out, and why so many men get away with it
    Fight on Brittany, don’t let the bastards get you down! You are the victim, not the perpetrator.

  2. In inference being alleged.. this man denied
    all charges ..if he is found guilty let the Law
    Do it’s due process.. if he is found not guilty
    Maybe Mandy you could do another article
    As to the reasons why ?

    • Because all of her behavior indicates someone covering up her own poor decisions to protect he so-called career. Not a single bit of evidence presented and she says she was too drunk to remember. What is the real shame is that Wilkinson, her dopey partner will never pay the price for ruining this womans chance of seeing justice …

  3. WELL SAID, Mandy. I am (as usual) sickened by the way male lawyers attack rape cases. And Brittany Higgins’ ugly re-lived trauma is no exception. “It never happened” are the identical words used to defend the Attorney General (?) who was accused of raping a young lady who took her life over the event. Lawyers seems to relish the lascivious details of rape cases … over and over again … in horrendous graphic details repeated ad infinitum by those who suffered it.

    My prayer is the Higgins perpetrator is properly convicted – and that my voice can resonate among what must surely become a screamingly loud outcry to put a stop to questionable attitudes of legal males supposedly supporting JUSTICE.

    Roma Newton

  4. What’s proven is the lying sing along of rapists who believe that they are untouchable ‘good old boys’. Pitiful duds of so-called
    human beings backed up by slippery women friends who are as crocked as their male counterparts. Chuck the offenders in
    the nearest ditch. Womankind has no need of them.

  5. Add on. Following the survival, Hermit, you imply money is the key. Not so. As a literary editor only the truth will set the woman free.
    That takes guts because this written word is ever lasting.

  6. This is outrageous – you’re assuming Brittany is innocent & the guy is guilty!!
    Yes, Brittany should be given the benefit of the doubt but the accused is as equally entitled to the same.
    Cases like this are always complicated because it is ‘he said, she said’.
    The accused will also be undergoing public scrutiny right now, as clearly evidenced in your own article.
    You seem to have so much concern for the women but such little regard for the guy. Female = innocent, Male = guilty.
    The law is FAR from perfect & it is truly heartbreaking for any women who’s ever been raped / abused / etc, to see their perpetrators go free -BUT- do you honestly think it’d be a better system if we just found all men guilty??

    • Except for one would be rapist at age 16, I accepted that I should have been more aware of walking along the beach on a summer’s night with someone I had just met after an
      Allcahol free dance at a surf club. He suggested we sit down. Then he was on top me, I struggled then said ok and he relaxed as I’d hoped.
      I was able to free myself and run like The wind and find a taxi.
      Afterwards I accepted I had not taken responsibility for myself and never let myself be
      In that position again. We must all take responsibility for ourselves.

  7. If a woman from the ATO said that you had defrauded the ATO by not declaring income from comedy gigs, you would want the word “alleged” to be used, wouldn’t you Mandy?

  8. Great article Mandy
    The system certainly provides additional trauma & is so slow to review the accusations & undertake corrections in the system to prevent repeat events and further trauma.
    Pity you are not in Canberra to give these guys hell face to face.
    The fact that legislation is still being processed to protect women & children against domestic violence reflects how far we still have to go as a “civilised” society.

    • Yes women & children in indigenous communities
      Are 35% more likely to be assaulted..those
      Are the facts unfortunately…anymore to add
      Penny ?

  9. It is alarming the learn that our wannabe lawmaker is clueless about the term “allegedly”.
    It is used to affirm the accused’s right to the Presumption of Innocence, which has been an integral tenet of English law for 800 years.

    • The wannabe lawmaker is is increasingly looking like a perfect fit between the Green nutters Bandt and Thorpe. Shame really.

  10. Linda, not all men are guilt given; far from it. What I find as an ongoing happening is ‘the numbers gain’ belonging to Parliament itself.
    Every month or so there’s another ‘Brittany’ who faces more patriarchy, rape or control like a done deal. What a way to run a Country.

  11. Mandy, what an unfair, one-sided argument. So many women believe that all a woman has to do is accuse a man of rape, and he should automatically be put away. I hope you never get called up for jury duty

  12. I believe Brittany said she can’t remember what took place as she was passed out .
    So there is no reliable evidence. No witnesses. No physical evidence.
    A dangerous slope.

    I would expect the jury to return a not guilty verdict as the crown has not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    I don’t have a lot of trauma over anything I can’t remember.

  13. A good case is not helped by hyperbole and to claim that “Most women have been raped” is ludicrous and does great harm to any think clearly.

  14. Rapists belong in jail. To get them there we have a process that enshrines the presumption of innocence and need to provide evidence that is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. According to the Human Rights Commission any person has the right to a fair trial “before a competent, independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law”. This is required before we distribute labels of ‘victim’, ‘criminal’, ‘rapist’ – and hero. Here, it is very concerning to see so many willing to ignore those basic human rights – ones even afforded to war criminals. One wonders if Mandy is familiar with the history of the lynch mobs in the southern USA who strung up many based upon the accusation of rape alone? Some groups of women were central players in a rape hysteria that saw many mutilated and hung as thousands of ‘good people’ cheered and watched “justice” being done. Their emotive pleas for vengeance and justifications for mob rule resonate strongly with Mandy Nolan has contributed here in 2022. Many (apparently) feel that she has made a great argument. But yet again, mob justice always requires those unwilling to let thinking get in the way of visceral anger, emotive arguments and tribal impulse. Long has that been the best way to gather a mob, crowdfund some strong rope and string ’em up quick.

    • Well said Jesse,
      It is a great shame though, that my comment, that is so much more constrained is censored and does not get published . I am a Male !
      Mandy is a PRAT.
      Cheers , G”)

  15. Listen, Barrow! And ‘listen good’. The photos & written newspaper reports from the very the early nineteen hundreds that were
    lodged with historians in several universities of First Nation Women being bashed & raped in the Northern streets of this
    country were sited & passed on by me. I know what I’m talking about. Now, can we get back to focus on current lies & more lies.

  16. Jacqui and Jesse have it.

    If Mandy’s appreciation of the value of the rule of law and of the presumption of innocence has any purchase in the community what hope is there for fair and equitable dealings with people? This is a horrible view and a vile piece of writing. There will always be ways that the process can be improved but it must never involve the presumption of guilt. I have not closely followed the case and may have missed pertinent comments but have certainly not heard any of the “public shaming” that Mandy suggests. Yes, the court needs to test for honesty, it would have little else to go on where the alledgedly damaged party has come forward after 2 years. Any undeniable evidence could have been collected had an assault been reported immediately.

    There is no excuse for any assault on another person but another’s guilt has to be proven. The alternative will radically increase the numbers falsely locked away, then. both the accuser and the whole nation will be guilty of flagrant breaching of the liberty we aspire to in this country.

    As unpleasant as it may sound, we are all responsible to report assault as quickly as we are able.

    • Totally. The elephant in the living room is that rape has far lower chance of being proven if it takes years before it is investigated as a crime. On the other hand, promptly reported and well documented cases have a very high likelihood of putting rapists in jail quickly. A DNA test is very convincing evidence. Rapists that escape justice rape again. It is exceedingly unpleasant to expect a victim to report a vile crime like rape, but what other way is there to jail a criminal if the crime is not reported soon after it happens?

      You summarise Mandy’s contribution well: “This is a horrible view and a vile piece of writing.”

      It does no less than proposing a new culture where a wide sympathy for accused rapists will be based upon a loss of confidence in the justice system. Do we really want to shift public sympathy away from alleged victims and the trauma they experience in court? That’s a crazy world I don’t want any part of. Our current system could be improved, and should be, but to abandon the presumption of innocence will backfire badly.

  17. Innocent until proven guilty. A pretty simple concept. How would you be looking at this if the accused man was your son? Would you not want him to have a fair trial following the established legal processes and laws of the land? The problem in this case is the media. Ms Higgins has been portrayed as the victim and held up as some sort of martyr by the media since she made the accusations (via the media not by going to the police or to a lawyer). She has now been caught in a web of her own lies. She earlier acknowledged she had no recollections of the night because she was extremely inebriated. Now in court she testifies with detailed recollections of a physical assault. It doesn’t add up. If the jury finds Mr. Lehrmann guilty the grounds have been laid for a successful appeal. Get some perspective. You are biased and your arguments are juvenile.

  18. My thoughts are with all those involved in this process, their friends, families, loved ones, colleagues and anybody who has been bought into the crossfire. Despite some intriguing facts and assumptions breaking my concentration of the information being offered throughout the proceedings so far. One thing I can not understand is, how did the DPP expect to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offence had occurred when they clearly have no evidence to support this. In fact, it would seem that the evidence so far has only supported that doubt ( in bucket loads) exists in almost every thread of the story.

  19. How many innocents have been proven guilty in the long run? Apart from that if I just so happened to be the mother of the raped woman
    there’d be more than a lightbulb glowing in Court. Brittany tried to get support from her ‘boss’. That was a joke along with the second
    well positioned woman. Night staff were left wondering what to do. All were aware an Election loomed. The rapist was definitely in the
    the building & his office. Brittany had been drinking heavily & so had her escort. I believe the woman was raped because there is a
    culture of grope & tackle in the government that was. Allow me to state that the members of parliament believe they are untouchable.
    That’s not so. The public vote the good, bad & ugly party in. Get this straight. Voters often forget how I & thousands of others put you
    into office. We employ & pay you. Too many gropes plus man handling have gone on. Quit it. Try growing up.

    • Not one shred of evidence to suggest Ms Higgins was Raped NOT one ! no DNA ..her version
      Of events changed regularly.. absolute
      Inconsistencies from the outset .. all women
      Must be believed right ? And then the 350k
      Deal went to the media before law enforcement..
      Please !

      • Unfortunately it would seem crucial evidence has not been forth coming or has not been possible to provide. for a number of varying reasons. With the lack of physical evidence to rely on, other details, conversations had, timelines, will be sort to determine the presumed happenings. Beyond reasonable doubt? Maybe?

  20. Of course victims of unwitnessed assault presently have to face the dreadful decisions involved with weighing up the uncertainty of conviction with the certainty of the retraumatising they will experience by going to court. But a jury finding the case not proven is not the same as them finding the accuser a liar.

    It’s fair enough though to point out that there is a tension between the presumption of innocence of the accused and the presumption of veracity for the accuser. Some reform has taken place in the process. The chastity or otherwise of the accuser is no longer considered admissible evidence and marriage is no longer regarded as consent to sex but. The situation is far from ideal and reform of the legal system needs to be ongoing but there are complex and competing tensions involved.

    I have no problem with the concept of patriarchy but this issue can’t be reduced to a patriarchal conspiracy. This is meaningless and doesn’t show a way through.

    Mandy, you used to write in a far more entertaining, balanced and intelligent way before you stood for parliament and I enjoyed you column. Lately I can’t bear the mix of valid commentary with the political rhetoric and pitch to the heartland. Not to mention the welcome mat for the inevitable reactionary pile-on.

  21. OMG…I cannot not believe what i just read! Mandy my darling I am am married to a Man…yes disgusting hey…and i have four sons…please stick to trashy journalisim and never embark into Law for everyone”s sake, yours views are so biased its sad…put your rope away Mandy and find a something more worthy to do with your time! PLEASE!

  22. Talk about running the gauntlet… a large deal is a put down & disbelief of a woman forced to wait before a trial allowed her to speak.
    How many months has it taken for closure? [Mandy has nothing to do with this.] Brittany was left on a shelf because the Government
    of the time chose to try & hold onto office. Most people should recall how many parliamentary male members have been forced out
    of their jobs due to insulting – or groping – females in the parliamentary party.

    No life is a bowl of perfection. Many women take their lives because they believe there is ‘no way out’ when they have not been
    listened to. Rape kills. Think on that.

    • “…disbelief of a woman forced to wait before a trial allowed her to speak”

      So you believe that she was forced not make a complaint to the police after the alleged rape? As I understand it, that’s a crime called ‘perverting the course of justice’. If anyone took such action they belong in court and should get a jail term.

      However, if someone did not report a crime, because (e.g.) they though it would affect their career, this is a choice the alleged victim makes. I’m not saying that it is a good choice, nor a compromise they should feel was needed, but it is their value judgement (unless forced not to report a crime by another party). If rape is not reported to the police, the police have no way to investigate and allow the court system to throw rapists in jail where they belong. DNA evidence of rape, using samples taken from the victim reveal convincing evidence for weeks – and even longer in some cases. Taken from clothes it can last for many years (if clothes are not washed). But after a year, what people say is about the only evidence that remains. To put rapists in jail we need victims to allow the police to collect the evidence that assures a conviction. Rape kills – sure. Not allowing the police to do their job by delaying a report of a crime for a year makes sure that rapists get off the hook to rape others.

    • Oh and then the book deal 350k …
      Seriously again not one shed of concrete
      Evidence to support or suggest Ms Higgins
      Allegations..

      • So you sat in the courtroom for the entire case and you’re familiar with all the evidence presented? And you think the book deal is the coup de grâce for the defence? Mmm

        It’s a little inconsistent to rail against Mandy for wanting to be judge, jury and executioner when some of the responses here seem to infer the complainant has likely invented her story. Do you think it’s because there’s not much sympathy for someone who wanted to work for the Tories?

        But you’re slipping, Barrow – you failed to fit in any reference here to indigenous women and the homeless!

  23. She needs alot of proving herself for starters she deleted half of her txts from her and him hourse leading up to it and after also look where it was at the pariliament house place how is there no witnesses at all it took her 1 week to finally show up was she hiding evidence? Hell of alot of throw offs for a straight forward rape case not from him Her

  24. This is a trial even Kafka would vote on. Mismanagement – self-help – corruption. Any way it’s wanted. Even Morrison when still in power
    apologized to Brittany. Now we deal with misconduct snuck into the hearing and a juror who aborts the law. We will discover who and
    what’s forthcoming early next year. Lehrmann is [It’s said] not allowed to leave this country.

    • Apologies for what ? Should Morrison had
      Apologised to the accused ? Whats the difference
      One’s accusing the other denied.. how legal were
      Ms Higgins comments outside court ?

      • Barrow, you really putting it on now, pretending that you don’t know what your hero Scott Morrison apologised for?
        You can easily “just goggle it mate”, …….with thanks to Adam Bandt for immortilising the phrase.

        But Barrow, as usual I’m here to help you in your hour of need as you helplessly flop around, and I quote courtesy of SBS News coverage, what Scott Morrison said in Parliament 8/2/2022 –

        Prime Minister Scott Morrison then addressed parliament, recognising Ms Higgins’s attendance, saying her “courage is the reason we are all here today”.
        He also delivered an apology directly to Ms Higgins, as well as others who had faced experiences of bullying, sexual harassment and assault.
        “I am sorry. We are sorry. I am sorry to Ms Higgins for the terrible things that took place here,” he said.
        “The place that should have been a place for safety and contribution, turned out to be a nightmare.
        “I am sorry for far more than that. All of those who came before Ms Higgins. And enjoyed the same, but she had the courage to speak, and so here we are.”

        You got it now, yeah.

        • Terrible thing’s that took place ?
          Yeah that 350k book deal ..before going to the
          Police or the media how ethical.. !!
          As for your F..ing stupid Brandt..has he sacked Ms Thorpe Yet ..

          • Our man is it again…”doing a Barrow”.

            Going off piste and crashing out with bad word is bottom of the barrel, Barrow.
            Your hero Scott Morrison apologised, but as usual you can’t acknowledge, F A C T S.

        • With respect have i got it ? NO
          you see the presumption of innocence
          is obviously something you find hard to grasp Joachim… as for Morrison’s comments
          He was just appeasing the mob .. how can he say sorry for something that has not passed through the court of law ..rule of law ?
          Joachim are you familiar with this ?

    • Apologies to Brittany Higgins for what reason
      Ms Bennett ? Presumption of innocence is a golden
      Rule .. rule of law .. !! Please provide any one reason why the accused is Guilty Ms Bennett?

  25. Alleged .. Tis the basis of our Judicial System. To brand the accused as guilty to any allegation that has not been tested is NOT the way things are done.

    He does NOT have to prove his innocence, he is considered innocent until Prosecuted to Guilt. The proof guilt being on the accuser

  26. Regardless, Brittany cops the ongoing current. SBSB is correct – and Morrison did apologize because he finally knew what happened
    on his watch. By the by the outside comments were legal.

  27. Barrow, Barrow, Barrow, you deny the fact that Scott Morrison apologised and now you double down by dismissing it.
    C’mom man, you can’t be serious.

    Your hero Scott Morrison in his time as PM made two other notable national apologies, apologising for Aged Care system failure and the RoboRobberyDebt failure.
    Are you going to tell us that whenever Scott Morrison had apologised for something it was disingenuous and just “appeasing the mob” because it hadn’t passed thought court?
    C’mon man, you can’t be serious.

    • Robo debt & and the age care that failed the
      Australia 💯 apologised ? Yes Morrison should
      Have Joachim.. once again how can anyone
      Say sorry to someone for something
      That has not passed through the courts ..
      Presumption of innocence once again
      Is something you and the article writer
      Have never come to terms with ..!!
      Who is in denial ?

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