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'I made the right decision not to report my assault'

A woman who was assaulted by two men says she believes she was right not to report her attack. 'S...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.17 8 Jul 2021


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'I made the right decision not...

'I made the right decision not to report my assault'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.17 8 Jul 2021


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A woman who was assaulted by two men says she believes she was right not to report her attack.

'Sarah' got in touch with Lunchtime Live after Ruth Maxwell - who was the victim of an attack in Dublin in May 2016 - said she was unsure she could go through the trial process again.

'Sarah' says she was assaulted by two men when she was in her early 20s.

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"At the time I wasn't in the right frame of mind really afterwards, but I chose not to report it.

"I think deep down, I knew it probably would have been the right thing to do to prevent it from happening to somebody else.

"But I was so terrified of the thoughts of a court case, and how I would be treated in court, and the whole nature of how women are treated in court in these cases.

"I just chose not to report it at the time".

She says coverage of the Belfast rape trial in 2018 vindicated her decision for her.

"It really struck me when I heard that the women's clothes had been passed to the jury for them to examine in front of a full courthouse, as if somehow her clothing was going to magically indicate to them whether she consented or not - or somehow could shine a light on her moral standing.

"I understand why victims clothes are taken for DNA evidence, but there's no need for people to look at them in order to make a judgement about her.

"So when those cases are going ahead I suppose it brought it all back to me, and I'm now very firmly of the opinion that I made the right decision not to report what happened to me.

"I wouldn't have been able for that".

'I couldn't have identified the men'

Sarah says she felt her case would not have been strong enough.

"When my assault took place, it was a long time ago, so there was no CCTV cameras.

"I couldn't have really have identified the men properly.

"The case probably wouldn't have been strong enough, if you know what I mean, because it was such a different time.

"But I think now, I suppose if circumstances were different now, maybe.

"Definitely if I could accurately identify those men, and say 'Yes it was definitely them' - and I felt that bringing it to court would help somebody else or prevent it from happening to somebody else - I might think twice about it.

"At the time I was not in a good place.

"It took years for me to get over it... it's just a really hard decision and I really admire those women who go ahead with those cases.

"It's just phenomenal what they do and how they go through it.

"And listening to that lady on your show yesterday, it just broke my heart listening to her - she was incredible".

Sarah says she refuses to let the attack into her daily life.

"I suppose I would think about it very often; it'd probably be almost every day, maybe every second day.

"But it's more like a fleeting thing now - something might trigger it and I'd hear something on the radio and I might think about it.

"But it did take a very, very long time".

'Runaway shoes'

Sarah says she now plans things very carefully.

"If I go out now, I will plan where I'm going, how I'm going to get there, how I'm going to go home.

"And I always bring a pair of, what my mother used to refer to as, 'runaway shoes' in my handbag.

"I always bring a pair of little flat runners and I put them on before I go home.

"And even my own daughters, I worry about them, and they bring their runaway shoes in their handbags now".

She also praised Minister Josepha Madigan for talking about her own experience.

Deputy Madigan revealed on Tuesday she is a survivor of sexual assault.

She told the Dáil of her experience during a discussion on what action is required to tackle sexual and domestic violence.

Sarah says: "I just thought she was incredibly brave to say that - there must have been a stunned silence when she said it.

"But it just goes to show that lots and lots and lots of women have had some form of unwelcome advance.

"Whether it was someone just touching their bottom or just making advances towards them.

"A lot of women have had incidents like that from very mild to very serious - and it's just incredible how prevalent it is".

'I made the right decision not to report my assault'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact Women's Aid on 1800-341-900 or the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre at 1800-77-8888

Main image by Pexels from Pixabay 

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