A British backpacker who was allegedly been raped, beaten and choked by a Cairns man during a 1360km road trip through outback Queensland that began on January 2 has spoken out for the first time.
The 22-year-old, from Liverpool in the UK, has reportedly taken to social media to share a powerful message.
“I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me,” she wrote, according to The Courier Mail.
Queensland police found the woman with serious facial injuries and in extreme distress when she was pulled over for a routine traffic stop driving a white Mitsubishi Pajero on the Warrego Highway, about 570 kilometres west of Brisbane.
When officers searched the four-wheel-drive, they found her alleged attacker hiding in a small alcove in the back of the vehicle, reports News Corp.
The 22-year-old man faced a Roma court on Monday on more than 20 charges, including four counts of rape, eight counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, four counts of strangulation, two counts of wilful damage, two counts of deprivation of liberty and drug charges.
Detective Inspector Paul Hart called the offences “very serious.”
“We would certainly say that what’s happened to this lady is quite catastrophic so there are numerous supports that are being put in place to help her out during this period,” Detective Hart told the ABC.
The “very prolonged” ordeal left the woman with physical injuries including facial fractures, bruises and cuts, and psychological trauma, according to Nine News.
Before being found by the police, the tourist walked into a nearby petrol station and was seen ‘crying and shaking uncontrollably.’
“She had two black eyes and marks down the side of her neck,” an unnamed petrol station worker told Daily Mail Australia.
Police said the woman and her alleged attacker met three months ago in Cairns and agreed to go on a road trip together that soon became a horrific nightmare for her.
Authorities are continuing the investigation.