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The courage of Carol Stingel

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The courage of Carol StingelThe news last week was that Geoff Clark had lost his court battle. A Melbourne jury found that the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission chairman led two pack rapes in Warrnambool, Victoria, 36 years ago.

But the story was really about the courage of Carol Stingel, the woman who brought the case against Clark. She successfully claimed damages for the loss, suffering and pain she believes she suffered because of the attacks she alleged.

The final outcome of the case is of less significance than the fact that it actually went to court. Mr Clark plans an appeal, and it's quite possible that the appeal will be upheld and he will be vindicated in the eyes of the law.

However such an outcome would not detract from the empowerment she experienced in bringing the case to court, and having the jury—and the public—hear and accept her harrowing story.

"I have power, I've got my power back, I've got myself back, I've got my life back," she said outside the court.

She explained that she realised when she began the action, Geoff Clark still had control over her, but that now she has taken back control.

The sense of personal affirmation that comes with victory was clearly shared by other victims of Geoff Clark, with reports that "about half a dozen" people came forward with fresh claims within a day of the court decision.

But it goes further than that. People all around Australia who have been violated in many other ways are now realising that empowerment is within their grasp. These include victims of domestic violence, and workplace and schoolyard bullying.

Such people invariably feel bad about themselves. They believe the negative things their tormentors say about them. They don't confide in anybody who might convince them that they're OK and the bully is the one with the problem. Keeping their pain to themselves, they remain powerless.

Carol Stingel has shown that it doesn't have to be that way.



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Great editorial. right to the point. Clark deserves to be pilloried for his misdeeds.

Ross Andrews | 06 February 2007  

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