Head in the sand might the way you could describe my frame of mind the past few months. The whole debacle in Paris on 19 February, seeing how ruthless the opposing party was prepared to be, having court adjourned for the third time and receiving another legal bill for over 1000€ has left me exhausted.
Mentally preparing for a court appearance in France is hard. Actually, as a survivor of any crime, preparing for a court hearing is hard. I suppose what makes France more challenging is that there is no victim assistance or support, no counselling, no special access or escort to the court rooms. Victims are treated like criminals. We are all the same in their regard…well, it feels likes this.
When I ask my lawyer what she believes should improve with regards to the ‘system’ and the treatment of victims of rape, she has a rather large list to share. But, there is one particular area that she passionately believes need immediate change, and that is how victims are treated within the legal structure. As she says, what I am being forced to live through, knowing that the man who attacked me is already free and walking the streets of Paris, is unacceptable and unnecessary.
A number of my French friends have suggested that I should approach the European Courts as they feel that my rights as a victim of being violated. When I actually read through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it certainly seems like my treatment in France is questionable.
To be honest, I don’t have the strength to take it this far on my own. If anything, I have been contemplating walking away and accepting that the French Justice System is just too strong for me to keep battling. Hence my head in the sand for the past weeks. I just haven’t known what is the ‘right’ thing to do.
In the end, I know I have to do what is ‘right’ for me. This is so much easier said than done. I have carried this attack with me for all of my adult life so far. It has shaped many of the decisions I have made, it has impacted my relationships, it has sent me to some of the darkest places a human can go. It has also brought some of the most amazing light, it has made me incredibly strong, I don’t fear death and I have lived many of my dreams because of this.
Just days after the attack, I knew deep down that my story would have a profound impact. The fact that I had managed to physically and mentally fight off my attacker to save my life had already helped me face the challenges of the hospital and police system. I carried no shame or guilt and when people asked what had happened (my body was battered), I would tell them, head held high. There was much criticism and judgement (this is a whole other story). However, there was also incredible support from friends, encouragement from strangers, and true admiration for my strength and ability to embrace life.
This legal battle in France is so much bigger than me now. If I can hang onto that inner strength for a little bit longer, I know the outcome could change the future of all rape victims in France. I also know that I cannot do this alone. By openingly sharing my story, I have hopefully touched many of your lives, and in return your thoughts, words and support keep giving me all the strength I need.
I am due back in court in Paris on Thursday 2 July.
The past week has been incredibly complex and confusing. One minute I’m scheduled to appear in court on 19 February, then there are doubts, then there is a motion to postpone and today, there is advice that this motion may be refused due to the unethical tactics of the opposing party. There seems to be a 50% chance that the court hearing will go ahead as scheduled.
I'm now in Paris and gearing up to face the Appeals Court yet again. Keeping hope!
Please head over to my blog for the twist in the story and some points of clarity: www.clairemc.com
Happy New Year! I hope you are all settling well into 2015 with lots of fabulous experiences coming into fruition.
I have just returned from South Africa and regaining strength for the next step in this journey. My resilience has been battered rather fiercely these past few months. South Africa was challenging - I was there to be an advocate for my father in getting adequate medical assistance and be by his side for a serious 'life-saving' surgery. I am saddened to share with you that he did not make it through. I lost my dad on 26 December 2014. I am so grateful to have been there to provide him with strength and peace as he passed over. Loss of a loved one is a very tough journey and I am taking each day as it comes.
Slowly but surely my inner fortitude is growing and I'm feeling more ready to affront the next part of this legal battle. It looks like I go back to court at the end of February. There is a lot for me to accomplish before then and I am still battling with visa issues, financial costs and my rights as a woman and survivor of a very serious crime. It's hard! But I know that I'm doing the right thing and my story is making a difference.
Just to let you know that I have created a Facebook page specifically for sharing my story. If you would like to follow my news and developments during this last phase of the legal battle, please feel free to like the page:
The 25th November marked the International Day to End Violence against Women. It is also the start of 16 days to UNiTE with your community, share stories and support women worldwide who have experienced violence. It takes only small action to start the ripple and create incredible change.
Please keep sharing my story.
Thank you for all of your support!
I still have an 'ice-bucket' style challenge to complete!
You may recall a few months back, I was nominated for the ice-bucket challenge. Given the incredible waste of water linked to this challenge, I had proposed running the Lausanne Half Marathon in 2hrs and then jumping into Lake Geneva afterwards.
Sadly, I missed the Lausanne Half Marathon and had to fly to South Africa instead to see my father who is struggling with cancer. I was feeling quite nervous about traveling alone to Johannesburg. So far so good and despite all the harsh realities of being here, I am happy to spend time with my dad, catch-up with old friends and get to know some of my family better.
Now back to the ice-bucket...I still have a challenge to complete!
On 14 December, Geneva is holding it's 76th Coupe de Noel. What is this?
A chilly, 120 metre swim in Lake Geneva where the water temperature can be as low as 2.5 degrees.
I propose attempting to swim the 120 metres as my ice-bucket challenge.
Do you like the sound of this? If yes, please share and encourage those around you to make a donation to my gofundme campaign.
Brrr...hopefully it will be less icy than a few years ago ;-)
A few weeks back I was nominated for the 'ice-bucket' challenge. The person who nominated me kindly made a donation to my gofundme campaign and I am extremely touched! I want to follow through with this challenge but having great difficulty with the extreme waste of water. I am certain this challenge has used enough to quench the thirst of thousands of children in Africa who struggle for a drop of clean water every day.
So I am proposing another challenge...
I have registered to run the Lausanne Half Marathon on 26 October. How about I aim to complete the 21kms in 2 hours and then I will jump into Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). The water temperature should be around 10°C or less.
If you think this is a good plan, please share and make a donation to my gofundme campaign. A third of all donations are going to support a non-profit in Paris that supports victims of rape. Please help me achieve the target. Your kindness makes the difference for all of us!
It gives me great pleasure to share some great news!
The funds that I donated to the Lismore Women's Health and Resource Centre are being put to good use. I received advice that the donation was greatly appreciated and will pay for 14 counselling sessions for women on low incomes.
Thank you for keeping my story alive. As you might know, my battle continues and the court hearing has been adjourned until December. I have been giving lots of thought on how to proceed and you can read about what lies ahead in my most recent blog entry: http://bit.ly/1okGVo7 ( www.clairemc.com ).
Please keep sharing my story. It's by giving a voice to victims of rape that we are able influence change at a higher level. If my experience can help another woman have a better outcome in France, then it has all been worth it.
The fabulous crew at CrossFit Byron Bay held a fundraiser for me on 31 May just before I headed off to France to face court in Paris. We had an awesome morning and thanks to everyone’s generosity raised $1244.
In keeping with my campaign, I have donated a third of this amount, $415, to a local non-profit in the Byron Bay area - the Lismore Women’s Health and Resource Centre (LWHRC). The funds will be specifically used to help women who are victims of rape. I transferred the funds over today :-)
A big thanks to everyone who has support me. Your generosity not only helps me on this difficult journey but will also make the difference in other women’s lives.
Peace, Harmony, laughter and love!
ps. if you would like to read more about the CrossFit Byron Bay fundraiser please checkout my blog: http://bit.ly/1vR3Nyy
I have been offline for a few days. Needed a little time to resource and work through the outcome of the court hearing.
I wanted to send you all another big thank you for such incredible support. I am deeply touched by the kindness that has been shown from friends and strangers. Your words and positive energy lift me up and I know that I am not alone on this journey.
I thought that the court hearing would be my last but alas the story goes on... Due to a legal technicality the hearing was adjoined and will only resume later this year. Please keep an eye on my blog this week for some more updates on what this means.
Until soon - Peace, Harmony, Laughter and Love
It felt quite surreal heading into the French courts (Palais de Justice) again. I know this building far to well, from the dungeons to the judges chambers, to the High Courts and now the Appeals Court. I thought that yesterday would mark the end of this story but it seems that there is still more to be told...
I would like to keep sharing my deepest thanks and appreciation for all of the incredible kindness and generosity you are showing me. I am now on my way to Paris and mentally starting to prepare for what awaits. At the moment it is mix of uncertainty, apprehension and determination. There is a big likelihood that my attacker is already a free man and knowing that he may be present at the court hearing is quite terrifying. Fortunately I have a dear friend who is traveling with me and will be my ‘bodyguard’ should things be too much to handle. Please feel free to follow this next part of my journey on my blog ( www.clairemc.com ) and can I encourage to keep SHARING my story. By sharing, we give strength to all those that have a similar story.
Peace, harmony, laughter and love
A huge thank you for all of your kindness, generosity and amazing words of support. I'm leaving for Paris tonight and today is full of last minute preparations. My aim is to thank all of you personally but it may take a few days.
Peace, harmony, laughter & love
Thank you so much for your incredible support, generosity and words of encouragement. I feel so blessed. Your help is giving me the strength needed to move into this next part and face the French court system again.
I have received a message from a few donors that they have not been able to process donations due to an error message. Apparently there has been a problem with PayPal. I am currently trying to resolve the issue. I will post another message very soon to let you know when everything is working properly if you wish to try again.
My name is Claire and I am from Australia. I was the victim of an extremely violent sexual assault and left for dead in Paris, France in July 1999. My attacker was caught 10 years later through DNA and for the past 5 years I have been caught in French criminal proceedings.
Criminal proceedings in France are civil and it is the victim's responsibility to prosecute and pay for all costs associated. The first court hearing was held in November 2011 and my attacker was sentenced to serve prison time. To date, these legal proceeding have cost me AUD$30,000. In an attempt to claim back half of these expenses, I have now been forced into an appeal proceeding which will cost another AUD$4000 - $6000.
In early May 2014, I received advice that I must return to Paris to testify in court again on 5 June 2014. I am currently in Australia and will be required to pay for flights and accommodation. I have also found out that my attacker may already be free, but the French courts refuse to confirm or advise on the situation, which could lead to more complications and expenses.
Having to relive the trauma and intensity of the attack over and over again for the past 5 years has almost destroyed me. I have tried so hard not to be a victim but the French system keeps dragging me down. I have sought ongoing counselling and medical support to make it through as I have experienced many dark and desperate moments.
I am overwhelmed by the ongoing expense of being a victim of such an awful crime in France. I feel that I have completed a civil duty by taking an extremely violent man of the streets of Paris so that he does not hurt any more women. It is such a struggle to come to terms with the fact that I may never be reimbursed by the French government for doing so.
This journey to finding justice will cost me more than AUD$35,000.
I am seeking your support and help to cover some of these expenses. Whatever you can spare, no amount is too little, and every little bit helps. I would like to donate a third of the donations received to support women who are victims of sexual assault in Paris.
I thank you from the deepest part of my heart for helping me find peace as a victim after battling such a complicated legal system for 15 years.
If you would like to read more of my story, please follow my blog: www.clairemc.com
Or click on the links below to articles that have been published in the Australian press:
Hi Claire, I remember the night you came into the Hideout, and the indifference of the police. I am so sorry it happened, and that you are still fighting the French system. Good luck and I truly hope you get some justice.
You are a brave and courageous young woman deserving of everyone's respect. I cannot believe that you have had to endure such an ordeal at the hand's of a inept judicial systems. Please keep me informed on your progress.
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