WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT Brittany Higgins has tearfully recalled the moment she alleges she was roused from a drunken stupor on a WA minister’s couch by a senior colleague silently raping her. Former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann is alleged to be that man. And it was during his defamation action over the same allegations, aired on The Project in 2021, that Ms Higgins retold her story again – providing emotional, graphic and powerful details about the night of the alleged attack and the political fallout which followed. She described how in March 2019 she wasn’t officially a part of Minister Reynolds team before Mr Lehrmann had tried to kiss her after a night out with the team at a bar. Later that month, and still just week weeks into her assistant media officer role, another Canberra night out left her “obliterated” after at least 11 vodka drinks and no food. “It was a lot, that was excessive – and an abnormality. Never that big, never in Canberra,” she said. Ms Higgins said by the time that bar closed she was “messy, slurry ... embarrassing myself”. She remembered being at another venue – 88MPH – but did not remember how she got there. Two other office colleagues and Mr Lehrmann were there, and shots were bought. She explained how she had tolerated Mr Lehrmann getting “handsy” in a nightclub – and after literally falling out of the club, drunkenly agreeing to share a lift home, via Parliament House. “I remember him being close to me – having his arm around me. I felt him being handsy with me. I didn’t push him away – I was dealing with him touching me. Being all over me in my space, in the nightclub,” Ms Higgins said. “He said: ‘I have to just pick something up from work’. I didn’t have my wits about me to be curious — he said he just had to stop in. “I was very, very inebriated. Very, very drunk. I don’t know why — but I got out too.” Once there, Ms Higgins she barely remembered entering the building, or walking to the office. What she did remember vividly though, was waking up with Mr Lehrmann on top of her. “I was spread open, exposed,” Ms Higgins said. “I told him no on a loop – I couldn’t scream for some reason, I felt waterlogged and heavy. I couldn’t move. “I was saying no, and telling him to stop, but I couldn’t scream like in the horror movies. “I got the impression it had been going on for some time. He seemed to be going quite fast, he was very much in the throes of it — rough and happening. “And I was an afterthought.” “Once he finished, he stopped and he got off me — I remember him getting up, he looked at me and then he left. He didn’t say anything.” And neither did she, initially – after returning home, crying all weekend, and then returning to work. During those first few days, Ms Higgins remembered several interactions with Mr Lehrman. He bought her a coffee. And he had sent her an email complete with “smiley face” him, which she said gave her the “heebies”. “We’d never had sort of like a friendly social relationship. And then suddenly after he raped me there was this familiarity and a smiley face that I felt was undeserved,” she said. “It freaked me out – and still does.” Gradually, she said, she told some of what happened – to a former partner, to her chief of staff Fiona Brown, and then to Minister Reynolds. But that meeting was held in the same office as the alleged rape, leaving Ms Higgins barely able to speak. “I was still wading through the trauma,” she said. It was in the days which followed this meeting that Ms Higgins said things “turned weird.” So weird that the day after the 2019 Federal Budget – less than two weeks after allegedly being raped – Ms Higgins said she was given a choice by her bosses. Either go to Western Australia on the election campaign, or go back home to the Gold Coast. “It was a pivotal conversation. Go home - and that would be the end,” she said. On the basis of that conversation, Ms Higgins found herself in a Parliament toilet taking a picture on her phone of a bruise on her leg. “I took the photo to validate or corroborate my experience,” Ms Higgins said. And she soon after, found herself in WA, after first telling the police she didn’t want to formally progress her rape complaint. In WA, handing out How to Vote cards and attending fund raising functions, she said she felt suicidal - alone, unsupported and ostracised. Both by Mr Lehrmann’s former colleagues, and Minister Reynolds. “She actively avoided me - she would never talk to me. She wouldn’t go to events with me,” Ms Higgins said. “She just wouldn’t talk to me.” After the Liberal Party’s shock election victory in 2019, Ms Higgins said she immediately applied to move from Senator Reynolds’ office. She applied for - and received offers - for three jobs. And accepted one with another WA member, Michaelia Cash, whom she said she bonded with. And so Ms Higgins returned to the Canberra bubble – until she saw a Four Corners episode entitled “Bursting the Canberra Bubble”. That episode began by exploring the allegations against WA’s former state and federal Attorney General Christian Porter. And Ms Higgins said it was that, and other scandals around parliament, which prompted her to reach out to The Project, and the police “I wasn’t so scared any more - I was over it. I was angry how they treated women, and I was done,” Ms Higgins said. “I decided I would speak about it, and go to the police. “That was the trigger point, I couldn’t be silent about it anymore. When it became clear it was a pattern - I felt sick. I was complicit in their cover-ups and the silence because I hadn’t called it out.” Ms Higgins will be called on to give more evidence on Thursday.