A rape survivor has urged people who were attacked to come forward instead of staying silent, but admitted that living through the memory of what happened during the hospital examination was “like being raped again”.
Bernie (last name withheld) was speaking at the launch of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s 2015 annual report which saw her break down in tears.
Discussing the scale of rapes and sexual assaults in Ireland, a significant percentage of which go unreported, Bernie said it is vital women and men who have been attacked feel they can come forward to seek justice.
She admitted the stress of such a step is not easy and fought back tears to make her views known. “From the minute I walked into the Garda station and reported my rape, I was made to feel I had done nothing wrong.
“I was brought to the Rotunda Hospital by two gardaí, and met by a woman from the Rape Crisis Centre which was a blessing.
“For me in the [hospital] examination I switched off and literally talked about everything, but looking back it was actually like being raped again.
“You do it with your eyes closed on auto-pilot and just think about everything else other than the rape.
“Rape is a total invasion and destruction of a person, by a person. But the victim can become the victor over rape. It was a long road but with the help of the Rape Crisis Centre I got here.”
Bernie, whose case did not lead to a conviction because of the lack of substantial physical DNA evidence of the attack, said she made “one mistake” — showering immediately after what happened.
She said she took the decision “because I wanted to be clean, I did not want to be a dirty person anymore”, but urged other women to go to hospital before doing so in order to ensure a conviction.
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Noeleen Blackwell described Bernie as a “powerful woman” who went through an “undeniable violation”.
“You’re a brave lady, and you’re a victor over rape,” she said.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s 2015 annual report launch also heard that almost 12,000 people contacted the organisation’s national helpline last year.
More than half of the calls were from those contacting the group for the first time, while 3,536 appointments also took place.
Some 284 women and men were accompanied by trained volunteers to the Rotunda Hospital’s sexual assault treatment unit, with 43 also taken to court or Garda stations for additional support.
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