‘Boob grabbed’: Qld MPs reveal horror sex assaults
Some of Queensland's most powerful women have shared shocking personal stories of being sexually harassed and assaulted as children and adults - and even as a minister - in the hope it inspires others to speak out.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath has led a cathartic lancing of memories of shame and anger that some had never before spoken of a day after she and her female Palaszczuk Government colleagues joined thousands in Brisbane's March 4 Justice against sexual assault.
The ministers told The Courier-Mail they hoped sharing their personal stories would show how pervasive sexual assault was and that speaking out would only empower women and bring change.
Ms D'Ath tweeted out two experiences - one of being asked by an older family friend as a young teenager to "kiss me like you would kiss your boyfriend", and another that left her "shocked and shaking" when a man twice her age tried to kiss her in the workplace when she was 18 years old.
She said she decided to finally share her experiences after the powerful march - having never even told her husband before.
"It's so palpable out there at the moment that women are just fed up with this sort of behaviour, particularly in the workplace," she said.
"I just felt standing there yesterday, how on earth can we ask young women and girls to speak up and have a voice about what's happening to them if someone like me can't talk about what I've experienced?"
Ms D'Ath said the experiences were still fresh and she was annoyed "this bloke who did this so many years ago has still go power over me".
"He made me feel like this and it's not OK and we have to be willing to talk about it," she said.
"There's still some men out there who think it's acceptable to treat women as objects and to use and abuse at their will and not be accountable."
Ms D'Ath said she worried she wouldn't be believed then but understood now that nothing ever changed it wasn't given a voice.
"This is about changing culture, this is about respect for human beings and not thinking that this is ever OK to treat another human being this way," she said.
"I just think this has to be the start of the momentum to change peoples' behaviour, particularly in workplaces."
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said she understood why women were angry, and she was angry herself having been sexually assaulted in recent years as a minister.
"When I was the Minister for Small Business, I was on stage presenting an award to a man at an … awards night," she said.
"On stage, and in front of the crowd, he placed his hand behind my back, reached down and he groped me.
"In front of everyone, in front of the crowd, in front of his peers, in front of my colleagues. In front of the cameras.
"I was ashamed, humiliated, and upset.
"Initially I was shocked, I was shocked at how casually he did this, but that feeling soon passed.
"Because as much as I wish my experience was uncommon - it's not."
She said women were demanding people take notice and listen.
"The time has come. Women have said enough is enough," she said.
Small Business Minister Di Farmer said more and more women were finally sharing their experiences and realising they were not in the minority.
"I remember being a young worker and there was a very handsy senior manager who used to put his hands around all the young women … and he put his hand around me and grabbed my breast.
"I felt so powerless.
"I remember saying to that person, please don't do that again but there was no one I could speak to about that and I never spoke about it I never spoke about it to anybody.
"And that's the thing for women who have been sexually assaulted.
"They never spoke about it because they felt they wouldn't be believed."
She said more women were talking now.
"Someone said to me the other day every one of my friends has been sexually assaulted and sexually harassed and I've been hiding it because I thought that no one would believe me," Ms Farmer said.
"Women are actually taking that power now, they're talking to each other and these are awful things that are happening but they're creating momentum and they're taking that power back.
"And there's strength in sharing because once you get it out, you understand how pervasive it is, you understand that people believe you."
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said her first experience of sexual violence was as a 17-year-old at Schoolies when someone put their hand up her skirt while she was dancing with friends on the beach.
"When I turned around a group of boys were giggling," she said.
"A couple of years later, while enjoying a night out, a man I did not know grabbed my breast as I exited the bathroom in a club.
"When I told him to back off his response was to call me an uptight bitch.
"These weren't isolated events."
She said she the incidents made her feel small but what stuck out was feeling that no one would believe her, or that she would be blamed for wearing a short shirt, or being out too late.
"My experiences are not rare, in fact they happen to women every single day," she said.
"To those women I say - I believe you, it's not your fault and it's not okay.
"Enough is enough."
Children's Minster Leanne Linard said she was proud of her colleagues for speaking out and she hoped it gave others courage to do the same.
"When I was 14 at a Brisbane shopping centre I had an awful experience when I was standing in the aisle of a store and a man forcefully grabbed me and pressed himself up against me," she said.
"It happened so quickly that I doubted myself, then he did it a second time.
"I felt violated and intimidated.
"Now it just makes me angry."
LNP frontbencher Deb Frecklington said she applauded and commended all women were sharing their lived experiences and raising awareness about sexual harassment and that it was not okay.
"No form of sexual harassment is ever acceptable," she said.
Her LNP colleague Amanda Camm said she'd experienced harassment in junior positions and more recently in local government.
"It is unacceptable and unfortunately growing up and also in differing roles and places of work for whatever reason it has been seen as almost socially acceptable for some time," she said.
Ms Camm said she was united with all women who wanted a new standard.
"I'm raising my sons and my daughter to know what those standards are," she said.
"We all have a responsibility in educating those around us."
Originally published as MPs' shocking personal stories of sexual harassment, assaults