Sexual violence - Dyson Heydon - Illustration only

DYSON HEYDON – Should We Really Be Shocked?

No profession, class, or other demographic is immune from sexual violence (read predation) because it thrives wherever an imbalance of power exists.

  • Only 1 in 10 reported cases of sexual violence proceed to court and secure a conviction
  • Sexual violence thrives wherever there is an imbalance of power
  • No profession, class or demographic is immune from sexual violence
  • We must be prepared to actively enforce high behavioral standards on those in positions of power and authority

Sexual violence and it’s prosecution in Australia remain a taboo – so much so, that as a collective society we are ill-equipped to properly prosecute, with only a 1 in 10 cases reported to Police actually proceeding to court and securing a conviction.

Part of the reason why sexual crime remains an ‘unspeakable’ topic, is because the nature of sexual offending relies on a heavily imbalanced power dynamic.

At a minimum, this looks like a disparity in physical strength between the survivor and offender. At its most nuanced, it includes the emotional and psychological grooming and manipulation between the offender and survivor (especially if the offender is an adult and survivor a child/minor). For sexual violence to thrive as it does in Australia, it relies on the offender using their power to keep their victims silent – with threats of harm to themselves or their loved ones, or harm to their career. It also relies on grooming the victim to believe that they have not been abused, or violated – that what happened was normal, natural, but still a secret that can’t be shared.

Also read: Salman is poster boy of toxic masculinity

No profession, class, or other demographic is immune from sexual predation because it thrives wherever an imbalance of power exists – and in a deeply patriarchal culture like ours, should we really be so surprised that even a High Court Justice is renown in professional circles for their abhorrent behavior? No, we should expect this.

In a culture that celebrates the physical strength and prowess of men, and idolizes toxic ideals of manhood, we cannot claim to be shocked or surprised by stories of men in power abusing their position for their own gratification – doing so is to willfully ignore the problem, and by default, marks you as complicit in the power-abuse dynamic of our culture.

We are consistently seeing stories of men in power and authority who abuse their position – from NRL players, singers and politicians, we have seen a constant succession of men behaving violently towards women.

Too many for us, the public, to hold a pretence of ignorance facade of shock. 

If we want real change to happen, those in the highest positions of power and authority must be held to account and responsible for their actions; and actively held to a high behavioural code of conduct.

 

Ashleigh Rae is a Sexual Violence Survivor Advocate.

(Ashleigh is a strong voice for survivors of sexual violence after her own experiences of rape and sexual assault beginning at age thirteen, by different offenders. She took two offenders to court and won, the last one in 2020.)

 

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