'It's been 1,000 days' - Abuse survivor waiting years for case to move forward

In 2021 'Mary' made the decision to go to the authorities and report the abuse, which spanned a number of years when she was under-12
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.29 27 Feb 2024

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'It's been 1,000 days' - Abuse...

'It's been 1,000 days' - Abuse survivor waiting years for case to move forward

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.29 27 Feb 2024

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A woman who finally got the courage to report the abuse she experienced as a child has said it is not right that she has been waiting over 1,000 days for her case to move forward.

In 2021, 'Mary' made the decision to go to Gardaí and report the abuse she suffered over a number of years when she was a child under the age of 12.

It has now been 1,000 days since she picked up the phone to report the crime.


She told The Pat Kenny Show she does not regret making the report.

"I definitely had reservations before Christmas when I had done the calculations and realised I was heading towards the 1,000 days," she said.

"Then I came across another news story in January of a case of a survivor who [said] it had kept her going through a tough six years.

"I'm only two years into this.

"I was glad I heard her speak... it gave me probably a moment of encouragement when I was at low ebb".

'Getting on with your life'

Mary said she would like to see more resources given to Gardaí.

"This takes a toll on your mental health and constantly having to advocate for yourself, constantly having to ring and check up and then try and get on with your life.

"There should be some process where they are supposed to actively check in with the cases.

"I just don't know how many cases they're working on at any given time; clearly there are too many.

"It's important that they're encouraging people to report crime, which they absolutely should be, but is it right that when someone like me goes and reports it, should I be left waiting over 1,000 days before it even gets to the DPP?

"I don't think that's correct."

The trigger

Mary said she confided about the abuse when she was 18 or 19 to  a sexual abuse centre in college, and said the support she received was "amazing".

But it was an email from her daughter's school years later that spurred her on to officially report the abuse.

"I didn't report it until I was in my 40s," she said.

"I discovered in the process of making that call that it's actually quite common for survivors to be triggered when they have children themselves.

"I have two children, one of them is a girl, and she was around the same age as I was when I have the recollection of the last abuse that took place.

"Her school was going through a safer education programme around looking after themselves.

"It was an email that came into my work and I was proud and delighted that my daughter was going to get this necessary awareness programme.

"But it also triggered for me that I didn't have that back then.

"It just prompted me then to pick up the phone and call the Gardaí".

'Some kind of comfort'

Mary said it had been playing on her mind since she heard other survivors talk on a BBC podcast, 'Where Is George Gibney?'

Gibney, a famous Olympic coach charged with child sexual abuse, never stood trial.

"The experiences of how they felt after being abused - for example, one of them talked about getting their first kiss.

"Their first kiss was with the abuser and that was the same for me.

"There was probably months to six weeks of a gap between me listening to the podcast and getting the email from my daughter's primary school.

"In that time, I had taken down some notes from the George Gibney podcast and just because it was helpful for me to read back what the survivors had said.

"I suppose I felt some kind of comfort that I wasn't alone in how I was feeling.

"But at the end of that podcast they mentioned the helpline numbers for the Garda Confidential Helpline, so I did save that number in my phone".

 'Write everything down'

Mary said she first told a family member when she was in her mid-20s.

"The first person I told was a very close aunt of mine and she was amazing," she said.

"[She] told me to write down everything I was feeling that day after telling her and write down every detail of what I remembered.

"Little did I know how important it was to do that because I was able to then pass that on as evidence when I did finally report all these years later".

Support network

Mary said her husband has been an "amazing" support.

"That's something that I absolutely would encourage others to make sure they have that support network before they go down this route," she said.

"There's generally fallout within your immediate family, I've heard that from others as well.

"It's very uncomfortable for them and a lot of my family have found it really challenging.

"If I didn't have my husband, my close friends and my counsellor, I don't know if I'd been able to stick with it".

Mary said making the initial call was the hardest part of the process.

"It's such a daunting thing to do, to make that initial call," she said.

"I spoke to a fellow survivor and they said to me that's the hardest thing that you'll do - pick up and make that call.

"I really appreciated that because it's not something easily that you want to do.

"I made the call and I have to say the Gardaí have been amazing - they're very professional, they treat you with respect, but the big issue is that they're stretched".

'Out of my hands now'

Mary said Gardaí followed up within 48 hours and she subsequently gave a formal statement.

She was then assigned a detective but said a lot of the initial onus was still on her.

"I have to do all the following up, they just don't have the resources," she said.

"I don't think they've ever rang me off their own bat, I think I've always had to ring them".

Mary said Gardaí then went to talk to people she named in her statement to give statements of their own.

"Thankfully everyone has been hugely supportive, or should I say 95% of them have," she said.

"The Gardaí explain to you then it's kind of out of my hands now.

"The outcome is no longer within my control, and you have to accept that.

"I think that's a big point to raise; you are deciding to report it and once you do that, you're handing it over it the Gardaí".

Mary said she would "absolutely" encourage survivors to report crime and will fight as far as she can in the process "and try and get justice for myself".

If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, you can contact The Samaritans on on 116 123 or One In Four on 01 662 4070

Support and advice can also be found at and

Main image: A woman sitting on a bench looking into the distance, 5-1-17. Image: Edward George / Alamy

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