- Watch the defamation trial live stream here from 10.15am.
Brittany Higgins felt abandoned by her colleagues and avoided by her federal minister boss after she reported a rape allegation.
"I was really personally hurt by all these people that I loved or worked with, that in my time of need, when something horrendous happened, all these good people did nothing," she told the Federal Court.
"I can't explain how hurt I was that I was just abandoned like that."
Ms Higgins held back tears as she gave evidence on Wednesday afternoon in Bruce Lehrmann's defamation proceedings against Network Ten and Lisa Wilkinson.
She is set to return to the witness box on Thursday morning before being eventually cross-examined.
Mr Lehrmann is suing the television network and its journalist over a 2021 The Project story, which aired Ms Higgins' allegation a man raped her in Parliament House two years earlier.
While the story did not name him, Mr Lehrmann claims he was easily identified.
Matthew Collins KC, representing Ten, foreshadowed Ms Higgins would give "graphic and distressing evidence" during the trial.
Mr Lehrmann sat on the furthest side of the room, up against a window, as Ms Higgins did so on Wednesday.
'Actively avoided me'
The court heard Ms Higgins was eventually given an "ultimatum" after her and Mr Lehrmann's after hours visit about where to work. She decided to move to the Western Australia office during the election.
"See much of Senator Reynolds while in Western Australia?" Ten's barrister, Matthew Collins KC, asked.
Ms Higgins responded: "No, she actively avoided me and didn't even like being in a room with me."
The woman said the federal minister would never speak to her or go to events with her.
"I was really suicidal at the time, I was just really alone. I didn't know anyone there," the woman said, welling up with tears.
"All the people I was working with day in day out were all Bruce's former colleagues. I'd only known them three weeks and they knew the reason he was fired was in relation to me."
The court heard Ms Higgins felt triggered by reports of a staffer's alleged bullying behaviour in the office of federal minister Ken Wyatt.
"It just sort of reminds me of my situation, how it can be turned into a story and everyone is just basically empathising with the perpetrator of the harassment," she texted Mr Dillaway.
Everyone in Senator Reynold's office was sympathetic to the accused person and "it was so horrendous that people would dare speak out about it", Ms Higgins said on Wednesday.
"It struck a nerve and it really hurt because I felt really abandoned. I just saw myself in that story."
Ms Higgins also messaged Mr Dillaway she was "pissed" at the Liberal party and was "offered jack shit in terms of help" by her then-boss.
'I couldn't scream'
Earlier in the day, the woman again publicly recounted her claim of being raped by her former colleague.
"I was saying no and I was telling him stop and there was urgency to it but I couldn't scream like you see in the horror movies," she told the Federal Court on Wednesday.
"He didn't even acknowledge it."
While Ms Higgins admitted her memory of the night has faded in and out, she described waking up with Mr Lehrmann "having sex with me" as a "touch point".
"Bruce was on top of me," she said.
"I couldn't scream for some reason. It was just trapped in my throat."
The court heard messages Ms Higgins had sent to friend Ben Dillaway in the following days.
The woman gave evidence she finally began to verbalise what she said was an assault in those messages but was "still giving [Mr Lehrmann] the benefit of the doubt".
Ms Higgins said she was still considering if she had led the man on or if he hadn't heard her protestations.
"Then I was getting to the point where I was starting to process it," she said.
"Even if he didn't hear me. Even if he didn't hear me saying no or stop or whatever, how could he see me in a state, see me so drunk and after he, in his mind, have consensual sex with, how could he leave me on that couch unable to get up?
"Even in his mind, if I give him the benefit of every doubt, how could he leave me there like that?"
Mr Lehrmann has repeatedly told the court Ms Higgins was not overly intoxicated on the night of the alleged incident and he assessed her to be "perfectly fine, functioning".
Earlier on Wednesday, the woman described herself to have been "completely obliterated" and "messy" to the point of embarrassment and falling over.
"I was very, very inebriated," she said.
At Civic club 88mph before their after-hours visit to parliament, Ms Higgins described Mr Lehrmann as being "handsy" with her.
"I remember him sitting really close to me. I remember him having his arm around my shoulder," she said.
"I remember him touching me and I remember having a thought process of discomfort but not wanting to vocalise the discomfort."
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Mr Lehrmann has previously denied all these claims.
Ms Higgins said she was "in the field of tolerance".
"I didn't push him away, I didn't snap at him ... I didn't want it but I was tolerating it," she said.
The television network and Ms Wilkinson are, in part, relying on a truth defence and aiming to prove the allegation is "substantially true".
Dr Collins previously told the court there was a "legitimate public interest in the exposure of Ms Higgins' allegation".
Mr Lehrmann has always denied raping Ms Higgins when the pair worked as staffers for the then-defence industry minister, and no findings have been made against him.
The charge of engaging in sexual intercourse without consent levelled at him was eventually dropped, with prosecutors citing an unacceptable risk to Ms Higgins' life.
- Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 6247 2525.