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Grace Tame memoir: Activist opens up about being raped by her teacher in new book

Grace Tame has shared the horrific comments made to her after she revealed she’d been raped by her high school teacher in her new and deeply personal memoir.

The 27-year-old divulged the shocking details of the sexual abuse she suffered, her battle with an eating disorder, and her journey since in her book The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner: A Memoir, which was released on Tuesday.

She revealed a school staff member said she had also had ‘boy trouble’ during high school, right after Tame disclosed she had been raped by her maths teacher Nicolaas Bester on the floor of his office.

Tame, a former Australian of the Year for her work in advocating for sexual assault survivors, also touched on the moments that made headlines around Australia such as her refusal to smile in photos with then-prime minister Scott Morrison.

Grace Tame has shared the horrific comments made to her after she revealed she’d been raped by her high school teacher in her new and deeply personal memoir

Tame's book The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner: A Memoir, was released on Tuesday

Tame’s book The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner: A Memoir, was released on Tuesday

Much of Tame’s memoir centres around the shocking and repetitive abuse she was subjected to by Bester when she was just 15-years-old.

Bester was a 58-year-old teacher at St Michael’s Collegiate School, an Anglican girls school in Hobart, when he groomed and abused Tame.

In 2011, the maths teacher was sentenced to two years and 10 months behind bars after pleading guilty to ‘maintaining a relationship with a young person under 17’ and possession of child exploitation material.

Bester served one year and nine months in jail and went on to complain his conviction had cost him ‘everything’ including his reputation in the community.

Sickeningly, Bester even boasted about the abuse on Facebook, writing men ‘envied him’ and that it was ‘awesome’. 

Tame opened up to her teacher about a previous sexual assault she’d experienced when an older child told a then-six-year-old Tame to undress in a closet before he molested her.

‘”I had boy trouble in high school too”, the (teacher) said to a then 16-year-old me in April 2011 just moments after I disclosed to her outside her office as we waited for police to arrive,’ Tame wrote in her memoir.

‘”I just can’t believe you’ve had sex”, was another great line I would hear later that day when I disclosed as much as I could for the second time ever.

‘”I just can’t believe you’ve had sex”, they kept saying to me, over and over, as I sat there in hysterics, still in my f**king school uniform.’

Her abuser, a father-of-two, had even violated her in the very Catholic church he was invited back to, to play the organ following his release from jail. 

The 27-year-old opened up about the horrific sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her high school teacher Nicolaas Bester

The 27-year-old opened up about the horrific sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her high school teacher Nicolaas Bester

Tame is seen with her fiance Max Heerey who is often seen by her side at events

Tame is seen with her fiance Max Heerey who is often seen by her side at events

Her memoir gave a raw and unfiltered glimpse into the abuse, including the moment her abuser told her he wanted to take her virginity because he ‘couldn’t bear’ the thought of someone else ‘having their way with me in the back of a truck somewhere’.

‘As if that was worse than an old grey carpet, in my school uniform,’ Tame added.

Bester would tell Tame to pretend to be his daughter if the pair were seen together outside of school hours.

Tame was regularly abused at four locations including Bester’s school office, a chair in the staffroom of a teacher he hated, a house he looked after and at a hotel.

She confronted her tormentor in his office in April 2011 after reporting the abuse.

‘I told him I hope he died, and that I hated him for what he’d done to me, to my family and to his,’ Tame said.

‘I had scars on my arms from self-harming throughout the abuse.

‘He shrugged and said coolly “well if that’s what you think of me”.’

She also bravely detailed the moment she lost her virginity to her rapist, with Tame still wearing her school sports uniform from the athletics carnival earlier that day, in August 2010.

She revealed the physical pain of the ordeal and his sickening words to her afterwards: ‘I didn’t think we would get that far.’

Some of the abuse happened in his office, underneath a bookshelf where a statue of Jesus stood.

Tame made headlines in January this year when she refused to smile alongside Mr Morrison and his wife Jenny in photos at a morning tea for the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra

Tame made headlines in January this year when she refused to smile alongside Mr Morrison and his wife Jenny in photos at a morning tea for the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra

Tame made headlines in January this year when she refused to smile alongside Mr Morrison and his wife Jenny in photos at a morning tea for the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra.

Images of a stony-faced Tame and her partner Max Heerey circulated, but those expecting to hear any apology from Tame shouldn’t hold their breath.

‘The man showed his true colours long before I frowned at him,’ she said.

‘And being responsible and loyal to your cause and friends is not about being liked. It sure as f**k is not about being polite.’

She said she deliberately frowned at Mr Morrison because in her opinion he ‘has done and assisted in objectively terrible things’.

‘No matter what your politics are, the harm that was caused under his government was some of the worst in our nation’s history, including but not limited to survivors of domestic and sexual violence,’ she added.

‘To have smiled at him, to have pretended everything was alright would have made me a f**king liar.’ 

Tame also wrote about suffering with an eating disorder and was hospitalised twice at the same time she was being groomed.

She later learnt that Bester had attempted to visit her while she was in hospital, posing as her uncle, but only her parents were allowed in. 

Tame is seen with her partner Max Heerey. She described in her book how her abuser Nicolaas Bester had groomed her to make herself feel she was in love with him

Tame is seen with her partner Max Heerey. She described in her book how her abuser Nicolaas Bester had groomed her to make herself feel she was in love with him

Bester had groomed her to the point that at the age of 15 she was questioning if she was in love with a man three times her age.

He’d re-enacted the abuse she experienced at six-years-old, forcing her to strip in a closet while he stood naked on the other side.

She revealed the shocking abuse led her to question if she was a ‘psychopath’, as he was.

Tame is seen at the National Press Club in February where she appeared alongside Brittany Higgins

Tame is seen at the National Press Club in February where she appeared alongside Brittany Higgins

‘I have blamed myself for everything that happened,’ Tame said.

‘I have bashed my head on plastered walls and hardwood floors in the hopes of exorcising myself to the point of blackout.’

The abuse led her to self-harm, with Tame carving the F-word into her thigh, with the scar still remaining despite five laser treatments.

After one rape in a hotel room, Bester asked Tame ‘you weren’t into that were you?’ only to tell her not to worry they would do it again, and she was abused a second time over.

‘I thought I loved him,’ Tame said.

Her book also touched on her past marriage to American actor Spencer Breslin, and her relationship with her now-fiance Mr Heerey, who is constantly seen by her side.

Tame hopes her memoir will help others who have seen similar horrors.

‘If nothing else, if this book is a blueprint for one person that helps them in some way, whatever that may be, my work here is done,’ she said. 

‘Evil thrives in silence. In each of us is a powerful story that could be a catalyst for the change we need.’ 

Grace Tame’s The Ninth Life of a Diamond Miner: A Memoir is available now at a retail price of $49.99. 

Tame is seen after making a powerful speech when she was crowned the 2021 Australian of the Year

Tame is seen after making a powerful speech when she was crowned the 2021 Australian of the Year

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