(Image: Gorkie/Private Media)

Note: this story discusses sexual assault.

So I ask, is it possible that this mentally ill woman was acting under a delusion…We can’t treat allegations as gospel without checking them because some people claiming to be victims do lie, some people have false memories. Some are delusional.

Andrew Bolt

What you missed on #4Corners. Kate was an over-achiever at school but tragically suffered: 1. Eating disorders. 2. Bi-polar leading to hospitalisation. 3. Other mental episodes (institutionalised). 4. Multiple suicide attempts. 5. Became obsessive about someone famous.

John Ruddick, Sky News contributor

For those familiar with the pattern of women alleging sexual harassment or assault against high profile men, the Christian Porter case is proceeding along predictable lines.

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Right now, we’re at the point where the credibility of Kate, the accuser, is in the dock while his powerful male supporters warn that what has befallen Porter could happen to any male — and will — if men don’t rally together to impugn the victim, kill the story and get things back to normal.

How is Porter’s alleged victim being impugned? Given she was just sixteen at the time of the alleged assault, a brilliant scholar away from her family in Adelaide due to her prowess as a debater, this could be challenging for a man of conscience. But luckily neither Andrew Bolt nor John Ruddick seem to have one.

Instead, they go for the jugular of the now dead woman: casting doubt on her ability to recall the alleged brutal assault that constituted her first sexual experience because, at some later point, she was diagnosed with bipolar. A mental illness, it should be noted, that is a disorder of mood, not thought, and so often doesn’t entail the delusions to which Bolt so crudely gestures, particularly in the less severe form of the disease that women are more likely to experience. Indeed, delusions aren’t even part of the diagnostic criteria in the most recent version of the psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Bipolar is also a condition that does not render people chronically unwell. Instead, in between episodes, those with it can live regular and sometimes spectacularly productive lives, as Kate — who earned with Porter a place at the World University Debating Championships all those years ago — as well as the achievements of Winston Churchill, Lily Allen, Stephen Fry, Russell Brand and Mariah Carey attest.

We now know that trauma can trigger mental illness in those predisposed to it. While we can’t be sure whether the trauma of the multiple rapes Kate experienced at the hands of a boy she alleged was Christian Porter was the cause of her illness, we also can’t be certain it wasn’t. (Christian Porter strongly denies all allegations.)

What we can say for sure is that there is something exquisitely screwed up about a society that abuses women in ways that cause trauma, and then uses the mental illness that trauma can provoke as evidence they were never really abused in the first place.

People living with mental illness have enough on their plate. They shouldn’t be used to distract from a discussion the government and its pals don’t want to have about rape.

Instead, we need to remember that it is not the integrity of the victim that’s at issue. It’s the integrity of the nation’s first law officer who, despite strenuously denying all of Kate’s allegations, has had his honesty in the spotlight ever since the ABC first aired the story of his drunken womanising in public with a young staffer in the weeks leading up to his becoming attorney-general.

Porter denied that, too, despite five witnesses confirming it happened and Malcolm Turnbull standing by his claim — backed by contemporaneous notes — that when he confronted Porter about claims of drunken, public womanising, Porter acknowledged them as fact.

This can’t stand. No Australian woman can be expected to believe that Christian Porter, nor any government of which he is a part, would act with fairness in any matter that pits a woman’s rights against a man’s reputation. This includes allegations of trafficking, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and rape.

There must be an independent investigation into Porter’s fitness to hold office. But like everything to do with respect for women, we going to have to fight for it.

See you at the March 4 Justice on Monday.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au