Grace Tame has revealed she hit "rock bottom" just weeks ago in the midst of media engagements after being named the 2021 Australian of the Year.
The 26-year-old advocate for survivors of sexual assault revealed the personal detail in an interview with Shelly Horton at a Business Chicks event in Melbourne on Wednesday, Nine Honey reported.
Speaking repeatedly about how she was sexually abused as a child following her acceptance of the award had caused a ruthless downward spiral, Ms Tame explained.
"I'm still going backwards all the time. A few weeks ago, I experienced a rock bottom crash, the constant re-traumatisation from re-reading my past and speaking about it in the media came to a head," she told a 700-strong crowd.
"My partner had gone out to the gym and I found myself pacing in the kitchen alone ... not able to quash the thought of suicide," she said.
While she was able to acknowledge that taking her own life was "not a viable solution", she still "couldn't see past it".
"But I could see my phone right beside me on the bench. So I called Lifeline," she said.
Ms Tame expressed how vital it was that Australians had "raw conversations" about issues like consent, coercive control, suicidal thoughts and sexual abuse, even though it could be "really hard and triggering".
Goal to prevent child sexual abuse
"But if we have this sort of mass disclosure now, then we don't have to do it in the future," she explained.
"Because we can take all of the lessons that we learned from this time. And if we do things right and apply them to our education frameworks, to our legal frameworks, we can then actually prevent this stuff from happening in the first place."
She added how on multiple occasions after stepping off stage from a speaking engagement she had "not been able to see properly because of the emotional strain of plummeting into past darkness".
"But again, I also know that the future can be brighter for me and for our country," she said.
Despite the battles she had faced, Ms Tame was optimistic they would all be worth it.
She reminded the crowd of her commitment to using her own traumatic past to help build a future where child sexual abuse doesn't exist and survivors of abuse were "believed by default the first time".
The shame should sit solely on the shoulders of perpetrators and not survivors, she added.
"I want to be part of the solution where our national education and legal systems and policies are reformed or redefined to better protect our survivors," she said.
"Conversation. Education. Legislation."
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