Grace Tame has hit out at the media for “sought to discredit her” by posting an old photo of her sitting next to what appeared to be a bong.
- The photo, taken from Ms Tame’s Instagram account, was taken when she was 19
- Her discovery was criticized as an attempt to attack Ms Tame’s credibility
- Former Australian of the Year called what she said was survivors’ shame
In an open letter posted on Twitter, the former Australian of the Year said the incident has let her down as an advocate for the survivor community.
She went on to say that the country needs to have an “open and honest discussion about trauma and what it can look like.”
“It can be ugly. It can feel like drugs. Like self-harm, skipping school, impulsive tattoos and all sorts of other unconscious, self-destructive and maladaptive coping mechanisms,” Ms Tame wrote. .
“While I don’t seek to glorify, sanitize or normalize any of these things, neither do I seek to shame or judge survivors for ANY of their choices.
“For anyone who needs to hear this: it’s NOT YOUR FAULT.”
Ms Tame’s photo was on her Instagram account and taken when she was 19.
It was deleted shortly before the Daily Mail news site published it on February 14, when it went viral.
Ms Tame, now 27, first addressed the photo in a tweet: “Okay I admit we were doing a cover of ‘April Sun in Cuba’. On oboe. “
The discovery of the photo has been criticized as an attempt to attack Ms Tame’s credibility and public figures, including Liberal MP Dave Sharma, have come to her defence.
“I’m sure there’s a picture of me like this. I don’t think it’s in the public interest,” Mr Sharma tweeted.
However, the photo apparently boosted the popularity of Ms Tame, who said it resulted in a record amount of donations to the Grace Tame Foundation.
“On that note, [it] It is with a swollen heart that I wish to thank the legions of strangers and friends from across Australia who came forward and stood up for survivors calling the shameless stunt unnecessary on Monday,” Ms Tame wrote.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.
“It means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to many other survivors as well.
“Our foundation received a record amount of donations that day, bringing us one step closer to a future free of child and other sexual abuse.”
Ms Tame brought the topic of child sexual abuse into the national spotlight when she was announced as Australian of the Year in 2021.
Throughout her tenure, she was critical of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the federal government’s handling of sexual assault allegations.
His incendiary approach drew a legion of supporters and critics.
Since handing over the mantle of Australian of the Year to tennis champion Dylan Alcott, Ms Tame has continued to capture the country’s attention.
Her decision not to smile while being greeted by Mr Morrison at the Lodge drew criticism, including from the Prime Minister’s wife, Jenny Morrison.
Ms Tame said she was not smiling because ‘the survival of the culture of violence depends on submissive smiles’.
Her “sideways” and unrestrained speech at the National Press Club with Brittany Higgins also made Ms Tame a public figure for women who push back societal expectations to please and keep the peace.
Read the full letter
To all media outlets that have sought to discredit me by publishing THIS photo,
Although my humor and strength remain intact, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t let me down.
Not just as an individual, but more so as an advocate for the survivor community…
At every stage – on the national stage, might I add – I have been completely transparent about all the demons I have fought as a result of child sexual abuse; substance abuse, self-harm, anorexia, and PTSD, among others.
You clearly didn’t listen.
While we need to recognize the harm that drugs can cause, if we are going to have an OPEN and HONEST discussion about child sexual abuse in this country, we also need to have an open and honest discussion about trauma and what it can do. look like.
It can be ugly. It may look like drugs. Like self-harm, skipping school, impulsive tattoos, and all sorts of other unconscious, self-destructive, maladaptive coping mechanisms.
While I’m not trying to glorify, sanitize, or normalize any of these things, I’m also not trying to shame or judge survivors for ANY of their choices.
For anyone who needs to hear this: it’s NOT YOUR FAULT.
There are survivors who are terrified of asking for help because they are afraid of being blamed for what happened to them. They fear being reprimanded for their coping strategies instead of being supported and treated for the cause of their suffering.
And what do you think happens when they see the mainstream media deliberately brutalizing survivor advocates like me for actions I took when I was 19 and still trying to address something that I don’t didn’t understand?
I will tell you. Their fear is amplified.
Publicly shaming survivors for their past is as low as it gets.
Also, in many CSA cases, the substances are PART of the crime. When the man who assaulted me first tried to rape me, he used alcohol to stun me. I had only been drunk twice in my life before that.
Abusers often use substances to groom and offend, first to lower their inhibitions, and then to build a conspiracy with the target that keeps them from reporting.
Survivors fear that authorities are focusing on substance use instead of the broader complexities of psychological manipulation – which are much harder to prove and explain.
Drugs are part of the larger story of abuse, during and after. They feed and aggravate the many layers of guilt and confusion. Later, they become a familiar and unavoidable means of escape.
By mocking a symptom of the larger picture, you have reinforced the imbalance of an already biased culture. You have chosen to punish the product of an evil, not the evil itself.
This is precisely why survivors don’t report. Congratulations.
There are only two possible explanations for why you did what you did: either you are so hopelessly ignorant of how trauma affects people and therefore have not considered the RE-traumatic effects of your actions, EITHER you are willfully complicit in perpetuating the culture of abuse.
I shudder to think it’s the latter.
If it’s the former, let me share some ideas that might be helpful in hopes that you never do this to a victim of abuse again:
In the case of many violent crimes, the majority of us have both the vocabulary to explain exactly what happens if we experience them, and the knowledge of how to seek appropriate help.
Child sexual abuse is very different. Its authors are very manipulative and sophisticated. And children – because of their age – don’t have the mental framework to understand it. For many survivors, it remains shrouded in mystery long after the offending contact has stopped.
I didn’t even hear of the word “grooming” until 7 years after experiencing this insidious form of emotional abuse. I didn’t know that pedophiles operated in a way that was considered a “textbook.”
I blamed myself for what a 58-year-old man did to me when I was 15. In the years that followed, I fought relentlessly. I thought everyone around me was mad at me too. To cope, I engaged in activities that I felt were worthy of someone as worthless as I considered myself.
Shame is rooted in the experience of child sexual abuse. It survives in every part of your being long after physical acts have ceased. Infused at the unconscious level, you have very little control over it once it’s there. It’s a life sentence.
That said, healing, self-love, triumph, and total transcendence are all possible. But they need patience, compassion, encouragement and forgiveness. They require ongoing community support.
On that note, it is with a swollen heart that I wish to thank the legions of strangers and friends from across Australia who came forward and came forward for survivors in calling the unnecessary shame stunt on Monday. I have never seen anything like it…
It means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to many other survivors as well.
Our foundation received a record amount of donations that day, bringing us one step closer to a future free of child and other sexual abuse.
This is a story worth telling…