The reigning Miss World NZ has revealed the trauma of alleged sexual abuse as a child.
Jess Tyson claims her abuser was known to her family and would creep into her room late at night when she was just seven years old.
“I just lay there and pretended I was asleep still because I didn’t want to confront the situation.”
She told Maori Television's Native Affairs she confided in her mother and testified in court at the age of nine.
“Some of the things that I would have to explain I didn’t know how to describe. Like saying the words to describe private parts I didn’t really use. That wasn’t part of my vocabulary,” she said.
The charges against her alleged abuser were dismissed through lack of evidence. But Tyson says it’s important for victims to know they are not alone and have the courage to still speak up.
The 25-year-old has launched her own organisation, BRAVE, to help young victims of abuse.
“Starting BRAVE is going to make a long lasting impact. Miss World was more than just a crown. It was about helping others and actually influencing people in the country.”
Tyson will travel to China in December to represent New Zealand for the Miss World title.
She tells her story for the first time tonight on Māori Television’s Native Affairs at 8pm.
For more information visit www.bravenz.com or contact Victim Support on 0800 victim – (0800 842 846).