Eggshell Skull

Bri Lee

Eggshell Skull
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Eggshell Skull

Bri Lee

Eggshell Skull: A well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must accept ‘take their victim as they come’: If a thin skull caused the death of someone after a punch, that victim’s weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime, nor the punishment.


But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his ‘victim’ as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system, who will not back down until justice is done?

Bri Lee began her first day of work at the Brisbane Magistrates Court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Eighteen months later she was back as the complainant in her own case.

This is the story of Bri’s journey through the Australian legal system; first as the daughter of a policeman, then as a law student, and finally as a judge’s associate in both metropolitan and regional Queensland - where justice can look very different, especially for women. Confronted by horrific criminal behaviour every day in court, Bri’s eyes were opened to the inequity of the legal system and how complainants in sex crime investigations and trials struggle to receive justice, are re-victimised, and let down by the system with heartbreaking frequency.

The injustice Bri witnessed, mourned and raged over every day finally forced her to confront her own personal history, one she’d vowed never to tell. And this is how, after years of struggle, she found herself on the other side of the courtroom, telling her story.

Bri Lee has written a fierce and eloquent memoir that addresses both her own reckoning with the past to speak the truth, as well as the stories around her, with wit, empathy and unflinching courage. Eggshell Skull is a haunting appraisal of modern Australia from a new and essential voice.

‘Brutal, brave and utterly compelling, Bri Lee’s extraordinary memoir shines a light on the humanity and complexity of our justice system and the limitless courage victims of crime must summon in a legal process stacked against them at every turn. In the age of #MeToo, Eggshell Skull is a prescient personal account of a young woman’s fierce and unflinching battle against her abuser. I can’t remember a book I devoured with such intensity, nor one that moved me so profoundly.’ Rebecca Starford, author of Bad Behaviour and co-founder of Kill Your Darlings

‘An illuminating meditation on society’s complicity in sexual assault, told through one woman’s pursuit of justice in a system that has failed women and survivors for too long. Powerful as it is timely, Eggshell Skull is a courageous, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir from one of Australia’s sharpest young writers.’ Liam Pieper, author of The Toymaker

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