A young British backpacker was allegedly repeatedly raped, assaulted and choked while being held hostage for two months in Australia.
The 22-year-old woman, who hasn’t been named in the media, was on a road trip through the Australian outback with a man when their relationship “soured” and the woman was held captive, Queensland police said. The ordeal ended on Sunday afternoon when police asked the woman to pull over in the vehicle she was driving after she failed to pay for petrol.
Officers immediately noticed something was wrong and inquired after her face injuries. They then arrested an Australian man, also aged 22, who they noticed was hiding in the back of the vehicle, the BBC reported.
The ordeal had been “horrific and terrifying" for the woman, Detective Inspector Paul Hart told journalists, adding that the officers had potentially saved her life.
Police said the pair began a relationship three months ago when they met in Cairns, in Far North Queensland, and decided to go on a road trip. The woman had been in Australia since 2015 and hadn’t been reported missing.
She has reportedly been in touch with family in the UK and friends in Australia since Sunday, reported the BBC.
Detective Inspector Paul Hart said the relationship had “obviously soured” at some point on the trip. “It’s tragic for the poor woman,” he told Guardian Australia.
She has received treatment for her injuries, which included facial fractures, bruising, abrasions on her neck, and cuts on her body, according to police. The “very prolonged” incident had also caused her psychological injuries, they added.
"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," said Inspector Hart. It had “taken great courage” for her to “provide the detail she has”, he added.
The woman will need a new passport because the alleged attacker damaged her existing one.
A spokesperson for the British High Commission said: "We are supporting a British woman following an incident in Queensland, and remain in contact with the local authorities."
The man, from Cairns, faces charges including four of rape, eight of assault causing bodily harm, four counts of strangulation and two of deprivation of liberty, reported the BBC. He faces a court in Roma, Queensland on Monday and remains in custody.