NSW MP shares own story in consent debate

·2-min read

A NSW MP has told the parliament of her devastating experience of sexual assault, as the parliament prepares to pass a bill that would overhaul the state's sexual consent laws.

Greens MP Abigail Boyd told the NSW upper house on Friday that she was subjected to rape "continuously for many years" after first being assaulted at eight years of age.

"Growing up, I thought it was my fault," she said. "I was riddled with guilt and the anxiety of not knowing when it would happen next."

Ms Boyd's experience as a child made her wish to avoid success and even praise for doing something well, "for fear that I would be found out for having allowed myself to be raped and that my shame would be publicised for the world to see".

The former lawyer was speaking in favour of a bill that would create an obligation to actively seek consent, using words or conduct, before a sexual interaction.

The so-called "affirmative consent" model could pass through parliament as soon as Tuesday after winning majority support in the lower house last week.

In her debate speech, Ms Boyd said the consent model in the bill would "finally" give victim-survivors of sexual assault legal recourse, as well as a clear signal that doing things without consent will not be tolerated.

"Unfortunately, having been raped as a child did not give me a leave pass from future non-consensual encounters with men," Ms Boyd said.

"From unwanted kisses, to surprise gropes, to being pinned against walls by strangers in nightclubs, to suddenly having someone on top of you after you have fallen asleep drunk--these are average, normal, everyday experiences of women.

"It has to stop."

Ms Boyd said she now suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which has sometimes made it difficult to express emotions or feel "anything at all".

"For victim-survivors, we carry it with us always," she said.

Ms Boyd thanked Saxon Mullins, the young woman whose own traumatic experience prompted the NSW government to introduce the reform, for her bravery and advocacy.

Ms Mullins told the story of her horrific sexual encounter, and the two criminal trials and appeals that followed, on the ABC's Four Corners program in 2018.

"Watching Four Corners that night, just over three years ago, began a very important personal journey for me ... Saxon gave me strength that night to start telling my own stories," Ms Boyd said.

The Greens are expected to move amendments to the bill on Tuesday, as is Labor. Nevertheless, it is expected to pass with majority support.

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