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Australian sailor says she was drugged and raped by NZ Navy officer

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 May 2022, 1:41pm
A file photo of an NZ Navy ship.
A file photo of an NZ Navy ship.

Australian sailor says she was drugged and raped by NZ Navy officer

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 May 2022, 1:41pm

Warning – this article discusses sexual abuse and may distress some readers. 

An Australian sailor says she was drugged and raped by a Royal New Zealand Navy officer while on an exchange, and told if she pressed charges, she would be sent home. 

The woman, who can only be named as Jennifer, told the Daily Telegraph she was on an exchange with the RNZN in 2007, docked at Sembawang port in Singapore when a senior officer invited her out for drinks. 

She told the Daily Telegraph she didn't want to go, but didn't want to be seen as rude. She only drank two beers, but after her second started feeling off. 

"Events grew hazy from there which is why I know my drink was spiked," she said. 

"One of the seniors said I looked like I should go back to the ship and asked if I wanted a taxi back. I said yes, I knew something was wrong even if I couldn't pinpoint what." 

Her next memory is being groped by the officer, and then she recalls "flashes" of the assault – being naked, rolled on to her chest and then forced to perform oral sex. 

"I woke up naked, covered in vomit, semen and urine. I eventually managed to turn the shower on, remember burning myself and then using just cold water. I got dressed and left, asking the front desk if they could get me a taxi." 

The next day Jennifer reported what had happened to her supervisor. 

"He said he had heard I went to a hotel with the senior sailor willingly and said he wouldn't tell my husband," she said. 

"I explained that I had been drugged and that I thought I was getting a taxi back to the ship. 

"He said that if I report it, I would be sent home to Australia and known forever as the girl who got raped. He said this would be a very hard thing for my husband to live with because how would anyone know it was rape when I was shit-faced." 

For the next nine years, Jennifer stayed silent – but in 2018 she got the courage to report her assault to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. 

A response praised her "courage" in coming forward but offered no assistance nor counselling. 

A year later she received a response saying what she had experienced did not meet the threshold for "the most serious forms of abuse". The response failed to address the supervisor's refusal to report her rape. 

She was also told that as the incident was "outside the jurisdiction" nothing could be done. 

The Herald has contacted the New Zealand Defence Force for comment. 

SEXUAL HARM – DO YOU NEED HELP? 

If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111. 
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on: 
• Text 4334 and they will respond 
• Email [email protected] 
• Visit https://safetotalk.nz/contact-us/ for an online chat 
Alternatively, contact your local police station – click here for a list. 
If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.