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Video transcription for Sarah Strong: Breaking the silence on rape


Released 27/10/2020

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Opens with words on screen: Please note that this video discusses sexual violence and suicide. Sarah Strong appears, looking directly at camera.

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Sarah: For me at the time, I didn't even know what it was. I was too young, being 14 years old I was not sexually active.

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Sarah speaking at a different angle, outside with trees behind her.

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Sarah: So, what the man did to me was something that I didn't know that it was - how bad it was at that time. And I grew up just thinking, well that's what normally happens, that's life, that's how women are treated and so I didn't know any better.

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Close shot of Sarah talking outside.

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Sarah: When you know you've been sexually assaulted or raped, you know, but you don't want to share that with other people and you don't know how to share it.

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Sarah looks into the distance.

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Sarah: How will people react? They will look at you differently, so it's quite a heavy choice to make and it is a choice.

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Words appear of screen: Sarah was raped when she was 14 years old. She didn't tell anyone for decades. Fades to Sarah looking in the distance.

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Sarah: But when I realised I wanted to talk about it my first problem was where do I go?

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Sarah sitting outside talking.

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I googled 'what to do when you're raped', 'where to go when you're raped'.

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Sarah looks into the distance. Words appear on screen: Sarah reported the rape to the police. "I knew straight away they believed me. And that was quite a turning point."

Image of leaves. Words appear on scree: Sarah also started seeing a counsellor through ACC. Sarah sits in the shade on a beach.

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Sarah: When I contacted ACC, something that was really good as well as that I knew I had a choice of who I could see, because I knew that was going to be difficult to talk about this.

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Sarah sitting outside, with trees in background.

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Luckily for me the one that I selected, she was right for me, and  I was never forced to talk about things that I didn't want to talk about and it surprised me, because I thought going down the counselling  route that I would have to re-live everything. But she didn't do that with me. 

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Sarah sites in a cafe, talking to others off camera. Words appear on screen: Sarah learned techniques to help her through the dark times.

Sarah talking outside with trees behind her.

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Sarah: To bring me back I would ground myself or think of my son.  Then I knew that I couldn't do anything such  as committing suicide because I couldn't leave my son, I couldn't leave my family. But you're in such a dark place and you don't know which way you're going, you don't know the way out. This is why you have to have the professional help and  I could phone her any time and I did.

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Sarah speaks on a stage with a microphone. Words appear on screen: In 2018, Sarah spoke publicly about what happened, at a TEDx talk in Auckland.

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Sarah: So, what was really good about the TED talk and for me  was to focus on what good can I do now out of this.

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Sarah talks outside, with trees behind her.

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Sarah: If we all are silent and if we all don't talk  about how traumatic the experience is we're never going to get change because no one will know. We're hidden away, we're a hidden part of society. And to some extent I feel like some parts of society are happy for us to be hidden away you know, sweep that under the rug, stay in your little box, that doesn't happen here, New Zealand's not like that, we're not like that. We are! So part of me 
talking about this and breaking my silence I need to help others, if I don't help others then what I've gone through for me has been a little bit of a waste of time for me because nothing's changed. And for other people, you need to know that it's okay to ask for help and to get help 
and then you have choices. You can still say no if it's not right at that time. 

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 Close-up of a butterfly tattoo. Words appear on screen: Sarah has a butterfly tattoo on her arm to represent her growth and newfound sense of freedom.

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Sarah: I love the transformation.

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Sarah sitting outside with trees behind her.

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Sarah: You would start off with a caterpillar, which would just sleep and eat.

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Sarah holds a smooth stone in her hands as she stands in sunlight on a beach.

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Sarah: It was just surviving and that's how I felt I was when I first spoke out. During the time of the  investigation was probably the hardest.

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Sarah sitting outside with trees behind her. Close up of Sarah as she closes her eyes.

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Sarah: I had to cocoon myself, so that was the next part of my transformation - into a cocoon where I could just close off from the world. And even then I didn't know if I was going to transform. Maybe my life was going to finish in the cocoon because it happens to some butterflies actually don't come out. And sometimes they come out and a wing is broken. 

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Sarah speaks on a stage with a microphone.

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Sarah: Then doing the TED talk, and once I had spoken about it, I felt like I could let it go to some extent.

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Sarah's butterfly tattoo.

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Sarah: I could feel the weight coming off.

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Sarah outside with trees behind her.

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Sarah: And I could feel free and instead of falling apart and  crying I started to notice how nice things were.

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Sarah wearing headphones, with her head swaying and eyes closed.

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Sarah: And rather than thinking of jumping off a cliff I could think of just flying quite peacefully.

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Sarah sitting on a bench, wearing headphones. Words appears on screen: Sarah continues to receive support from those around her.

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Sarah: To help me move forward I make the most of what I have.

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Sarah talks outside with trees behind her, smiling.

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Sarah: The love of my family means more than anything. Having that connection with my whānau, with my  good friends, it just means the world to me.

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Sarah looks directly at the camera, smiling.

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Sarah: And I'm so strong, I'm so strong now and my name is Sarah Strong. I'm very lucky, yeah, I'm very lucky.

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Words appear on screen: If you need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk 0800 044 334, www.safetotalk.nz

Learn more at acc.co.nz. ACC logo.