Why I named my rapist on social media
More than two years after I was violently raped by a man I knew, after being ignored and let down by both the police and other organisations, I chose to name my abuser on social media.
Known as rape shaming, when victims of sexual assaults publicly out their abusers, it is becoming more and more common.
I was assaulted in April 2015.
A man I knew, who I considered a friend, invited me to his apartment in Sydney to hang out, eat pizza and have a drink.
He kissed me. We started having consensual sex, but it quickly turned violent. I tried to get up, told him to stop, but he held me down and raped me. Afterwards I was terrified, in pain and covered in bruises.
Only hours later two friends took me to the hospital. We spent hours in the emergency room and then in a small exam room in the Sydney hospital.
I made a statement, was examined, had my injuries recorded, got blood tests taken and was given the morning after pill. I hadn't slept for more than 24 hours, was in pain and exhausted, but stayed at the hospital while I did everything that was required.
The doctor who examined me was shocked by the extent of my internal and external injuries. She told me they were "severe" compared to many she saw on other rape victims.
She was kind, but the process was not a pleasant one, especially when she had to take swabs from where I had internal abrasions from the rape.
After it was finally done, I went home and spent the rest of the day in bed.
Two weeks later I went to my local station and made a report to the police.
But after more than two years, after dealing with three different detectives and being told my medical records had been destroyed, I decided that the justice system wasn't working. And I named my rapist on social media.
I felt naming him, my abuser, online was my only option. I knew he had assaulted at least one other woman and I was driven by a need to protect others from a man who is a serial rapist.
I spoke about this decision to Hagar Cohen from Radio National's Background Briefing for an episode that airs today.
Cohen decided to examine the issue of women outing their abusers after seeing my social media posts go viral and spoke to a number of victims about their experiences.
She even managed to get to Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, who heads the New South Wales sex crimes squad, to concede that bad behaviour from some officers could lead women to not report their crimes to police at all.
I experienced that bad behaviour first-hand. Although the officer I originally reported my rape to was kind and empathetic, making sure to tell me that he believed me and it wasn't my fault, my experience soured from there.
My case was referred to King's Cross police station, and I was given a male detective who was in charge of investigating in my case. In our first meeting he took my statement, where I had to give a detailed account of my violent rape.
As I was telling him about how I was held down, that I said "stop" many times, that I told the man he was hurting me, the detective paused.
He looked up at me and said that my rapist was "just a kid who doesn't know how to have sex yet".
I was shocked, made speechless by his comment.
And for anyone who knows me, it takes a lot to silence me.
Later the same detective made a joke about my rapist's name. I left the station after over an hour feeling let down. All I could think was, if a detective, who has seen all the evidence of the assault, doesn't believe me then who will?
After that I didn't contact police for some time. I was upset by his comments and tried to move on. But the issue wouldn't go away. All I kept thinking about was that my rapist was still out there, free to hurt other women. The guilt was enormous; I felt that if I didn't do something it would be partly my fault when he assaulted someone else.
So I went back to the police. I told them what the first detective had said and asked for a new officer to investigate my case. I was assigned someone new, a woman this time, and hoped things would progress.
But they didn't. I was told my medical records had been destroyed and that without them the case wasn't as strong.
It was put in the "too hard" basket and I heard nothing for months.
At the same time, I made a formal complaint to the NSW Greens, who employed my rapist.
Little did I know that rumours about the man who abused me had been swirling around the party for at least a year. So much so that a new policy on how to deal with sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations had been developed specifically to deal with one man: my rapist.
Within two weeks of the policy being introduced, seven separate women, including myself, had made complaints about my rapist.
His membership was suspended, but never cancelled, and he apparently fled the state.
It was after this, after making complaints through all the available channels and having nothing happen, that I decided to name my rapist online. I felt I had no other choice. That this was the only option available to me to protect women from this dangerous man.
In the Background Briefing documentary, Detective Superintendent Howlett urged women to not name their rapists online and instead go to police.
But I did go to police, many times, and they did nothing.
To this day, the NSW police have told me they "don't know" if they will press charges, as my rapist has left the country, and is currently in Europe.
Howlett also expressed concern that women naming their rapists online were getting "15 minutes of fame" but could be jeopardising their cases. But I'm not looking for fame.
The backlash of abuse I have received after naming him and how this experience has traumatised me once again has been horrible.
I could be sued for defamation for what I did. But I decided to stand up and put myself on the line because the organisations that are supposed to protect other women from rapists like this man have done nothing.
I have risked everything to try to prevent even one more woman being a victim of this man.
Despite the personal cost, I would do it again, and so will other women until the police start taking our concerns seriously.
• Lauren Ingram is a journalist for News Corp Australia and the Centralian Advocate