Sexual harassment victim: ‘This can’t be something we brush off’

Laura Duncliffe

A Cork woman who was the victim of sexual harassment last weekend says the overwhelming online response to the incident has motivated her to report the matter to gardaí.

Laura Duncliffe, a student at University College Cork, also said that women in Cork constantly receive unwanted attention in the city at night.

Last Sunday night Ms Duncliffe was shocked when a man pulled her skirt up around her as she walked down Washington St with her friends.

She subsequently shared her experience on Facebook.

The status has since been shared hundreds of times, and has received thousands of likes on the social network.

Washington Street
Washington Street

Ms Duncliffe said the response has been over-whelming, and had changed her attitude as to how to respond to what happened that night.

“I was shocked, the last time I put a status up on Facebook was years ago. I wrote it in the notes of my iPhone that night. I did half of it and thought it’s not worth it, it will get a few likes and that’s it,” Ms Duncliffe said.

However, she said that the incident was ‘eating away’ at her the next day, and so she decided to finish the status and post it to Facebook.

The response in turn encouraged her that it was something worth bringing to the gardaí.

“This can’t be something that we brush off and say ‘let it go’. I got so many comments from people who had experienced something similar happen to them,” she said.

Ms Duncliffe said that she could understand the many comments from women who told how they would react if they were the victims in the same situation.

“I would be the first to say the same, but there and then I didn’t know how to react. I was embarrassed, mortified. I felt like I had done something wrong, I was ashamed,” she said.

While the reaction has been overwhelmingly supportive, Ms Duncliffe took issue with those who suggested her post was sexist against men. She said she was sharing her own personal experience.

“I hate categorising, it’s the last thing I would want to do and I understand that it is a very small amount of men who do this. But it is far more prevalent for women to suffer it. It is harassment regardless if it is men doing it to women or women doing it to men,” she said.

She was also distressed at the nature of the attack, as she does not believe her assailant could have known her age.

“I’m 4ft 10. I’m very small, and look young for my age. I could have been a 15-year-old coming from a teenage disco. He came at me from behind and had no idea what age I am,” she said.

Laura Duncliffe
Laura Duncliffe

Ms Duncliffe said that while what happened to her was an extreme example, the reality is that women out at night in Cork constantly experience unwanted attention.

“You experience it every single weekend, it’s very common and you mostly brush it off and laugh at it. You have to be prepared for it, it’s not nice at all,” she said.

“I wasn’t going to go to the gardaí with it but after getting the reaction it did I was encouraged by people to report it. I have to do it, people want to see justice done, I can’t just brush it off.

“People think that you can’t do anything because it happens so often, but that’s how people get away with it.”


Facebook post recalls ‘disgusting’ sexual harassment

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