Kathy awoke the next morning, she felt sick and stayed in bed until 4pm, she then dressed and attended the Party conference that evening at the Convention Centre at the far end of the caravan park.
“Bill was there but I ignored him. He had spoken to so many people about how he ‘had sex’ with me and I felt so uncomfortable with what I thought were so many eyes inspecting me. So I told my sister Kim that we were going home early in the morning, left the conference and went back to bed.
“The next morning, we packed up, arranged to get a lift to Spencer Street Station and caught the train back to Wodonga. The trees and paddocks were flashing past as I stared out the window. Something had changed in me, I could sense it, I was feeling so many different emotions that they had merged into one giant ball of muddled confusion.
"I could feel I was a different person but I didn’t know in what way.
“On the Monday I didn’t go to school… in fact I never returned to school again. My passion for Labor politics had evaporated overnight and I was having trouble sleeping. Each time I closed my eyes I saw Bill’s stupid face.
“Four months later and suddenly I was experiencing chronic stomach pains and blood started gushing from between my legs. Mum put me straight in the car and rushed me to Mercy Base Hospital in Albury where I spent a few days. Staff told me I had had a miscarriage. It was one more emotion to add to my cart.
“Some time later Bill had called me at home, he had heard I had been in hospital. ‘What were you in hospital for?’, he asked. ‘Oh, nothing really, just female stuff’, I replied. I was damned if would let him know he had done that to me too!
"Stuff Young Labor! Stuff that bastard Bill and stuff his rotten Monash Uni mates! I was over it.
“Apart from running into him early the following year in Melbourne, it was the last time I spoke to Bill and the beginning of me spiralling downward and out of control.
I was watching Kathy’s quivering fingers wrestle with a cigarette paper, “Can I roll that for you?” I asked. “No thanks.” I was carefully choosing my words, it seemed one ill-chosen or poorly framed question would lead to a major meltdown. “Would you like another cup of coffee?”, I asked. “Yes please.”
It was getting difficult to keep her on track when responding to my questions, she would dart off in unrelated directions leaving me marooned on an island of information with no chronological sequence.
After drinking her coffee, Kathy sat back and took a deep breath, “I started smoking a lot of pot and drank a lot. Each time I hit rock bottom I would move to somewhere else. Each doctor I saw prescribed me a different anti-depressant and sent me to a different psychologist.
“In 1993 I moved to the Gold Coast and spent 11 years swamped in drugs and alcohol battling depression, anxiety and insomnia. In 2004 I sobered up and went to live with my sister in Forster where I reported the rape to the Police for the first time. I got the run-around and gave up on it. My psychologist advised me to get a man and 'get over it'… and I really tried to.
“Three or four years later I was getting ready for work and glanced at the TV to get the time. It was the 'Sunrise' program covering the Beaconsfield mine disaster in Tassie and I suddenly saw Bill’s face. I started shaking and became hysterical, I called the police and spoke to a Detective Sergeant David Winter who said he could help.
"He gave me courage but I was scared and eventually I let it go again and started on the alcohol and drugs (self-medication as Kathy refers to it). I slipped back into that murky world of escapism and stayed there.
“For me there was no avoiding Bill now, he was everywhere on every medium, everything was closing in around me and there seemed no way out.
“The next time I spoke to the police was when I was contacted by the Sexual Crimes Squad in Victoria on the 15th of October 2013, and here I am.”
Bill Shorten was arrested and after eight months of investigation the police said there was insufficient evidence to proceed. Shorten immediately volunteered a statement saying it “didn’t happen”.
Well it did happen, but it also happened, and still happens, to many other 16 year-old girls who dabble in drugs and alcohol with older predatory men.
For me, I cannot understand what enjoyment there can be had from forcing sex on another human being. It seems anathema to what sex is all about.
It must take a certain type of predator, a control freak with a power complex and a dark mind to enjoy any part of forcing sex on another person, let alone a friend.
I assisted Kathy to her car and returned to my cramped office wondering how different Kathy’s life might have been if Bill Shorten had never been born.
To be honest, I am not certain it would have been.