'I will never forgive that judge for what he put me through': Rape survivor Lavinia Kerwick

'I will never forgive that judge for what he put me through': Rape survivor Lavinia Kerwick
Rape survivor Lavinia Kerwick at the launch of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Annual Report

A woman who waived her right to anonymity after when she was raped as a teenager in the early 90s has spoken out about the need for criminal justice reform for victims.

Lavinia Kerwicks comments came as it was revealed that calls to a rape crisis helpline in Ireland increased by 500 last year.

A total of 12,855 calls were fielded by the 24-hour service run by Dublin Rape Crisis Centre – around 48% of which were related to claims of adult rape.

Speaking at the launch Ms Kerwick said victims of sexual violence are “crying out” for changes in the judicial system.

She spoke out after her rapist was handed a suspended sentence following a court case that she said “nearly killed me”.

She made legal history by helping to bring in changes that allow rape victims to speak at sentencing hearings and for the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal against lenient sentences.

She appealed to the commissioner to “be brave” in helping to introduce further changes to improve the judicial system.

"We as survivors and victims deserve to be able to live our lives and heal. To do that, victims need to trust the system and when reporting a rape, victims need to know that they have done the right thing. It takes all our courage."

While seeking reform from the judicial system, she did have a better experience with the gardaí:

"I can only speak from my experience and say I was treated with compassion and was kept informed of every step by the Gardai. Unfortunately, that's where it ends because when a rape case goes to court it begins to unravel," she said.

Ms Kerwick later spoke with Ray D'Arcy on RTÉ Radio 1 and spoke in length about the added trauma a trial adds to women who have been victims of sexual assault.

Ms Kerwick also suffered from an eating disorder after being raped by her then-boyfriend on New Year's Eve 1991.

"I will never forgive that judge for what he put me through," she told Ray D'Arcy.

She recalled the time she phoned The Gerry Ryan Show: "I thought people rang into radio stations the whole time saying they were raped".

Lavinia Kerwick with Ray D'Arcy
Lavinia Kerwick with Ray D'Arcy

She revealed that Gerry was the very first man she trusted with her story and that she waived her right to anonymity by telling Gerry her name - not knowing what she was doing.

"I just wanted somebody to ask me who I was."

Lavinia was also critical about how the clothes a victim wears has come into focus following a recent case that made national headlines - saying that what the rapist wears is much more important.

"His clothes had a direct impact on how I felt," adding she still remembers the jeans and gloves worn by her attacker.

Digital Desk

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