Alone in her apartment a few months ago, knife in hand, Grace Tame saw her phone on the kitchen bench.
"I didn't know who would answer or if they could help, but it gave me my next step," she told those gathered at the Illawarra International Women's day luncheon.
"That's all I've done; take the next step in front of me. Suicide was an unacceptable option."
She picked up the phone and called Lifeline.
Most people are familiar with Australian of the Year Ms Tame's story by now. Her teacher spent less than two years in prison for sexually abusing her when she was just 15. He was 58, and went on to describe his crimes in Australian media as "awesome" and "enviable".
When she tried to share her thoughts about what had happened, she found she was silenced by laws that prevented victims of sexual abuse from being identified publicly - even if they wished to identify themselves.
Ms Tame and her supporters began a campaign to have the law overturned, and were successful in April 2020.
At the annual Illawarra International Women's Day luncheon, however, she said the road forward had been anything but smooth.
"I saw counsellor after counsellor, I abused drugs and alcohol, I moved overseas, practiced yoga, taught yoga, cut myself," she said.
"Some days were completely empty, but there were brief moments of reprieve and I clung to the hope things could be different for me and others in future."
That hope sustained her; it gave her the strength to continue putting one foot in front of the other until she changed a nation.
The first step was to tell someone about the abuse.
"I just knew if one person believed me, that was all I needed to move forward," she said.
"The thought of my inaction enabling abuse to continue became more repulsive than my memories. I will never forget the sense of freedom when I shared my experience and was believed."
Ms Tame believes "conversation, education and legislation" are the way forward for survivors of abuse, and for society.
"I want a future where the shame sits with the perpetrators, not survivors," she said.
"We've all heard that derogatory term 'damaged goods'. I am so much more than a survivor of child sexual abuse. I want to be part of the solution."
Ms Tame said this years' International Women's Day theme - Choose to Challenge - could be embodied because of obstacles, not in spite of them.
"With pain comes renewed motivation to thrive," she said. "We will not succeed in everything we do, but trying is a triumph over indifference."
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