Disturbing new information about the life of controversial Perth liver transplant recipient Claire Murray has been exposed nearly a decade after her tragic death.
The documentary-drama Wild Butterfly, which premiered last night to a sold out cinema at Luna Leederville, uncovers for the first time details about Claire’s brutal rape at just 12 years of age.
Writer/director/producer and psychotherapist Shireen Narayanan, for Inavision Films, worked closely with the Murray family over 9 years to bring the truth to light.
“Claire Murray was unfairly and wrongly portrayed as an ungrateful addict who recklessly squandered her second chance at life by using drugs,” Ms. Narayanan said.
“While she was clinging to life, caught in a media spotlight, it was simply too traumatic for Claire and her family to reveal the shocking, violent attack 12 years earlier that sparked her drug problems and mental health battles. Nor should it have been incumbent on them to do so.
“We also didn’t know that Claire had an undiagnosed genetic predisposition to an aggressive blood clotting condition, which contributed to her failed liver transplants.”
Claire’s mother Val Milne said it was her daughter’s dying wish to tell her true story.
“She wanted people to understand that, all too often, mental health issues and drug dependency are fueled by past trauma,” Mrs. Milne said.
“This has been incredibly difficult to be part of, but I hope the film gets us all talking about the terrible stigma surrounding drug users. They need proper support not snap judgment.”
Professor Steve Allsop from the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University praised the film for exposing the myths and misconceptions around people affected by drug use.
“This film demonstrates the need for us to radically alter our thinking and our responses to people affected by trauma and alcohol and other drug problems,” Prof. Allsop said.
“People affected by drug use should be treated with the same dignity and compassion as anyone with major health challenges; after all, it could be anyone of us or those we hold dear.”
Executive producer for Artemis Media Celia Tait said Wild Butterfly showed how Claire’s case had fallen through alarming cracks in the justice, education and health systems.
“There is evidence to suggest Claire’s PTSD following her rape was misdiagnosed as ADHD, that vital physical evidence regarding her sexual assault was lost, and educators did not act when the family reported Claire’s rape,” Ms Tait said.
From what was pieced together it looked like layer upon layer of systemic failure”
Former Scotland Yard detective Robin Napper, an advisor to the filmmakers, called for an urgent reopening of the investigation into Claire’s rape.
“Based on the remaining evidence, along with decades of experience investigating sexual assault, it is clear to me that Claire was the victim of a sophisticated predator, who could still be offending,” Mr Napper said.
Dr Gail Phillips, Emeritus Associate Professor of Journalism at Murdoch University, said Wild Butterfly was a cautionary tale, highlighting why media must understand trauma-informed care.
“The media made assumptions about Claire’s life that left no room for a complex back story,” Dr Phillips said.
“But human trauma should never be used as clickbait. Media has a significant role to play in creating understanding and breaking down stigma.”
Ms Narayanan said Claire’s family and supporters had three important goals with Wild Butterfly.
“First and foremost, the police investigation must be reopened, and Claire’s rapist brought to justice,” she said.
“There also needs to be greater awareness of the link between trauma and drug dependence. We also want action to reduce the stigma facing people affected by drug use.
“We hope Claire’s legacy, through this film, is a more compassionate, supportive society and an end to the kind of ill-informed, damaging discrimination the Murray family endured.”
Wild Butterfly is available for screenings through FANFORCE.
If you need information or support, contact the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 or visit health.gov.au/drughelp.