Grace Tame Will 'Stop At Nothing' To Speak About What Her Abuser Did
It was a shocking crime that sent a man to jail, but his victim couldn't tell her story.
Nine years later, Grace Tame is finally able to speak and reveal her identity. Now, she says she will stop at nothing to educate others on the behaviours of adult groomers and to speak for those victims who do not have a voice.
Tame was just 15 years old when she was groomed and repeatedly sexually assaulted by her 58-year-old teacher, Nicolaas Bester, at St Michael's Collegiate School in Hobart.
It was in 2010, and while her abuser went on to speak publicly about the case, Tame was gagged by an archaic law -- existing only in Tasmania and the Northern Territory -- that prevents victims of sexual abuse from identifying themselves.
"The law is in place supposedly to protect victims from exploitative journalism. But in a way it allows it because the victim doesn’t have a voice," Tame told Studio 10 on Wednesday.
"It also allows the perpetrator further opportunity to dictate the narrative."
After a long battle, anti-sexual assault advocate and freelance journalist Nina Funnell last month reported Tame's historical win in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, as she became the first female sexual abuse survivor to win the legal right to tell identify herself.
But for years, as her abuser spoke out, she was forced to keep silent.
'A Long Battle'
Tame was a student in Hobart when her story began. She told Studio 10 she wants to share the horrific details of her abuse "in the interest of explicating how these predators work".
"It’s a long story. I was very unwell. This particular teacher noticed that, targeted me and over a period of months, isolated me from my friends and family, turned me against my mental health professionals," she explained.
Tame said she had shared with Bester details of being abused as a child, at the hands of an older child.
"That abuse involved being asked to get into a closet and undress. It wasn’t until months later after I told Bester this story that he actually then recreated that traumatic event in order to introduce the abuse," she said.
"He had groomed me for a period of months, he’d remembered all these details and all these weaknesses, and then to introduce the sexual aspect of that “relationship”, he recreated the scene with the closet and asking me to undress."
When police later arrested Bester, he was found with 28 images of child pornography on his computer.
Bester pleaded guilty to “maintaining a relationship with a young person” and possession of child exploitation material.
He was convicted and sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail. He was released on parole after serving 19 months.
But in the years after, Bester was vocal about his crimes. In 2017, after a second stint in prison over making child exploitation material, he appeared in an interview with commentator and sex therapist Bettina Arndt.
“I lost everything, I lost my home, I’d been married for 37 years, I lost my marriage I lost my children, I lost my job, I lost my status in the community, I lost absolutely everything,” he told Arndt in the YouTube video that has since been taken down.
Tame said while the interview was shocking, she was not surprised.
"I know this man unfortunately quite well. I have seen a side of him that not many people have seen ... because these predators are very charming, and they are very good at concealing their true nature," she said.
"It’s shocking -- the content of the video interview that he did with Bettina Ardnt -- but it was not surprising to me."
Tame said the interview also included misinformation, including Ardnt claiming evidence of her "sexually provocative behaviour" was presented in court.
"He is a man who had made mistakes, served his time in prison, a man I believe should be allowed to get on with his life," Ardnt said in the interview.
"Here were have an example where evidence of the girl’s sexually provocative behaviour was presented to the judge. The question that remains for me is whether there is any room in this conversation for talking to young people -- particularly young girls -- about behaving sensibly, and not exploiting their seductive power to ruin the lives of men."
Tame refuted these claims vehemently.
"It's not true. My family were all in court at every step of the process," she said.
"This is also a man who admitted in these same courts to all the calculated examples of grooming."
Tame is central to the #LetHerSpeak campaign -- organised by Funnell in partnership with Marque Lawyers and End Rape On Campus -- to overturn the archaic law and allow victims of sex crimes identify themselves.
She also wants to speak on behalf of those who still don't have a voice.
"I am so eager for this conversation to spread globally. I think it’s a conversation that needs to be in every living room. I just want people to band together on this," she said.
"I want to educate, I want to speak on behalf of those who don’t have a voice ... Whatever I can do for others, I will do -- I will stop at nothing."
To speak to someone around issues relating to sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org