An angry Grace Tame has taken to Twitter to lash the media’s publication of an old photograph showing her with a bong.
“To every media outlet who sought to discredit me by publishing THAT photo,” is the way the former Australian of the Year began her rebuke, which appeared in a lengthy sequence of posts.
“Although my humour and strength remain intact, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t let me down,” she began, insisting her status as a prominent campaigner for victims of sexual assault should have made media organisations think twice before publishing the candid snapshot.
“Not just as an individual, but more so as an advocate of the survivor community” she continued
Ms Tame went on to say she had been consistently and “completely transparent about all the demons I’ve battled in the aftermath of child sexual abuse, drug addiction, self-harm, anorexia and PTSD, among others”.
“You just clearly haven’t been listening,” she tweeted.
Her criticism comes in response to coverage of the 2014 photo, which was taken from a now-deleted post on her Instagram account.
It shows a smiling Ms Tame crading a giant bong while seated beside an unidentified man, whose face has been pixelated and who appears to be preparing marijuana for smoking.
“Whilst we must acknowledge the harm that drugs can cause, if we want to have an OPEN and HONEST discussion about child sexual abuse in this country, we must also have an open and honest discussion about trauma and what that can look like,” she wrote in the Twitter statement issued on Saturday afternoon.
Surviving abuse ‘can be ugly’
“It can be ugly. It can look like drugs. Like self-harm, skipping school, getting impulsive tattoos and all kinds of other unconscious, self-destructive, maladaptive coping mechanisms.
“Whilst I do not seek to glorify, sanitise or normalise any of these things, I also do not seek to shame or judge survivors for ANY of their choices.”
Both the Prime Minister’s office and organisers of the Australian of the Year Awards have recently distanced themselves from a “threatening” call Ms Tame alleges she received demanding she avoid disparaging Scott Morrison.
The federal government has announced an investigation into the claim and called on the still unnamed individual to apologise.
Ms Tame told the National Press Club earlier this month the communication had come from a senior member of a government-funded organisation on August 17.
She has been a vocal critic of the Prime Minister and his government’s handling of women’s safety issues, infamously prompting a display of stone-faced reserve when photographed with Mr Morrison at a morning tea for Australian of the Year finalists.
In Saturday’s open letter, she noted that there were “survivors out there who are terrified of seeking help because they’re afraid they’ll be blamed for what has happened to them”.
“They are afraid they’ll be chastised for their coping strategies instead of being offered support and treated for the cause of their suffering.”
Ms Tame went on to say in reference to the bong image that survivors fear authorities will zero in on substance use instead of the wider complexities of psychological manipulation, which are “much harder to prove and explain”.