After recent media coverage of the lunacy of a thong being relevant in a rape case in Ireland involving a 17 year old girl, leading to the aquital of the accused ….I write this open letter to the Irish courts as it plays heavy on my heart and my mind x
Open Letter To The Irish Court System from a survivor of Abuse:
Please remember to bring integrity and ethics to the court with your wig !
To the judges and, in particular, the senior council barristers that represent the rapists and paedophiles of our country. You have a job to do – someone has to do it, I get it, I honestly do. You have taken an oath to defend the accused to the best of your ability and I get that too. Some people that are accused are innocent and this I too understand. I want to believe that the court system is fair and just and I believe in a persons innocence until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. I am reasonable, respectful, fair, ethical and moral in this difficult process.
I ask you to in return to show me the same respect, morality, integrity, and reason. There are many times since my body was invaded by my rapist when I blamed myself. Like many survivors, I was my own worst critic. I spent many years in counselling to address my self-hatred and unanswered questions as to why I didn’t do more to stop the abuse. I questioned why I didn’t scream louder, fight harder, I went over and over the conversations in my head that I had with him worrying that although I was a child, did I lead him on, did I do something that caused him to choose me. It took many difficult sessions to understand why I did what he told me to and how grooming works.
As you laid out the mitigating circumstances to the judge for the defendant, after admitting his crimes, you asked that she take into account that, although he did pleads guilty to rape, that he is not a violent man. That he only held me down that first time, the only time he was “violent” and that he seen that I was a “willing participant” in something “inappropriate” seen to be “consensual”.
Mr Senior Council, do you get that you have now just stood in a court room, an educated man, and undermined all the work that has taken me to the point of no longer blaming myself? You have undone the work of my psychologist, you have turned up the volume of my self-critic and made me wonder yet again if I was raped because of…. me. As if this process of forcing myself to remember details I spent years trying to forget wasn’t hard enough. As if standing in the same room as the man who admits he held me down as a child and raped me on numerous times wasn’t hard enough. As if standing in front of strangers and giving these details in my victim impact statement wasn’t hard enough. As if coming to terms with the system and the likelihood of a concurrent sentence isn’t hard enough. I now have to sit and listen to a respected, well educated barrister stand in front of me and refer to sex with me as a child simply inappropriate, non-violent with elements of “consensual” sex.
I ask myself if its a lie then that I as a 12 year old child could not consent, I ask if it was indeed my fault, I get a sick feeling in my stomach that is undoing all the hard work I as a survivor had to do. You are right, he did only have to physically hold me down that first time, that’s all it took to teach me that fighting back made it worse …..so I learned to close my eyes, zone out and take it. You are right that it was inappropriate but Mr Senior Council: you are wrong , so wrong to say any rape isn’t violent or to put the word “consensual” into a sentence while referring to the rape of any child.
I seen this week that another defending barrister questioned the motives of the underwear of a woman who reported an assault. Again, I ask the need for this uneducated, judgemental line of enquiry where the victim is ridiculed on their choices which are, or at least should be, nothing to do with whether or not a rape occurred. Rape happens because of rapists. Rape does not happen because the victim wasn’t held down each time, it happens because of rapists. Rape does not happen because the child didn’t fight back hard enough, rape happens because of rapists. Rape does not happen because a girl chooses to wear a thong, rape happens because of rapists.
How can we as mothers teach our sons and daughters this lesson when we live in a society where educated respected barristers can stand in a court and victim blame openly. I call on you today to do your job with integrity and decency – find your morals and use them!
Do your job to the best of your ability – Take into account a rapists “good behavior” if you have to, his age and his medical conditions, even his difficult upbringing. Please do not have the audacity after all I’ve been through to stand there and blame what I wore, blame how hard I protested or if I fought back hard enough. I’ve done a good enough job blaming myself in this horrible process, there is no need for you to stand there high and mighty and act like a suited up scumbag by lowering to the mentality of my rapist in his defense. I ask you replace the respect that comes with your wig with the respect that should come with your morals.
A very disheartened
Survivor of Sexual abuse and Rape