Aid worker details allegations of 'brutal assault'

EXCLUSIVE: The Melbourne aid worker, who alleges she was raped by an United Nations employee in East Timor this year, says she will return to humanitarian work. She spoke to Luke Waters.

Nurse Linda O'Brien is anxiously awaiting the findings of a United Nations inquiry into the alleged assault which took place in July.

Ms O'Brien is being treated for post traumatic stress but says she wishes to become an advocate on behalf of victims of sexual assault, particularly in an aid environment.

"I thought to myself: 'This is what it feels like to be raped'. All the rape victims and sexual assault victims I had cared for before - I had never known what they had experienced, that this how it actually felt," Ms O'Brien said of the alleged assault.

Nurse Linda O'Brien was employed by the Red Cross at the time of the alleged attack. The United Nations is now investigating the claims.

Linda O'Brien has devoted her professional life to acting as a humanitarian aid worker witnessing first-hand the aftermath of natural disasters around the globe. But she says nothing could prepare her for her ordeal in East Timor.

"He slapped me with an open hand, right hand across the left side of my face and I was terrified, she told SBS.

"I was laying there like a rigid stone with my arms braced over my head, like this. There is no way that a decent person would interpret this as a woman enjoying or concentrating to that sort of sexual penetration - no way".

Ms O'Brien says she met her alleged attacker, an officer working for the UN peacekeeping mission in East Timor, at a dinner party in July.

She admits to drinking some alcohol over the course of the evening. Ms O'Brien says after the party, the man invited himself to her home.

She also admits to having sex with the man, but only after he demonstrated threatening behaviour and she feared for her safety.

When he became violent and hit her, Ms O'Brien ordered the man to stop and leave her home immediately. Despite her efforts, she says he then raped her.

Twenty-eight hours after the attack, Ms O'Brien reported the incident to her Red Cross employer, who she says advised her against reporting the matter to police. Now the investigation process is stalling.

"I was begging them to approach the UN about my attack. They said it had to be handled diplomatically".

It's an allegation the Red Cross denies.

"There's absolutely no reason for the IFRC or Red Cross to hesitate in lodging a formal complaint in regard to a sexual assault. We're independent from the UN," Head of International Programs for Australian Red Cross Donna McSkimming said.

The Australian Federal Police says the complaint is a matter for the UN, as it has no jurisdiction in East Timor.

In a statement to SBS, the United Nations confirmed their investigation is active and it's being co-ordinated through its office of internal oversight.

The UN was however unable to confirm whether the alleged attacker, a peacekeeper from a South American country, has been interviewed.

"The armour that I have to have to be able to do my humanitarian aid work, I felt it splinter and fall away. I was very, very, very vulnerable and very scared. And I didn't realise that was going to stay with me for a long time," Ms O'Brien said.

Ms O'Brien is yet to hear when the outcome of any investigation will be released.

WATCH: Extended report from Luke Waters:

Source: SBS