Attack by strangers is not norm - Rape Crisis Centre
Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30
Men, as well as women, need to be vigilant at all times, the Rape Crisis Centre has warned in the wake of the horrific Clondalkin rape.
While women should not be forced to "constrain" their activities to avoid being attacked, both men and women "should take precautions to protect themselves," said the centre's chief executive Noeline Blackwell.
Ms Blackwell described yesterday's attack as "a nightmare" but added that such attacks by strangers were the exception, rather than the rule.
However, the Clondalkin attack fits in with the stereotype of the rapist lurking in the bushes.
"This fits the worst nightmare of everybody.
"But only about one in four rapes are carried out by strangers," she told the Irish Independent.
In the vast majority of cases, a woman is sexually assaulted or raped by someone she knows, Ms Blackwell said.
Although date rape and other forms of rape by an acquaintance or family member are "horrific incidents", attacks by random strangers - while rare - can be particularly traumatic, she said.
However, Ms Blackwell said that women or men who are sexually assaulted should never feel that their actions are to blame.
"No matter how vulnerable they are, it is never their fault," she said.
Aidan Carroll, founder of the Hard Target School of Self Defence in Donabate, Co Dublin, agrees. Many of his clients are victims of random sexual assaults, including a young man who was gang-raped by three men while walking alone in a popular Dublin park.
But Mr Carroll said people always need to be aware of potentially dangerous scenarios and then act accordingly.
He said the best defence against potential sexual assaults is a strong offence.
"We can't sugar-coat this. This is the reality," he said.
While the Clondalkin attack bears all the hallmarks of an "opportunistic" crime, Mr Carroll said anyone walking alone needs to take precautions, be aware of their surroundings and avoid making themselves vulnerable.
Being under the influence of alcohol or distracted by mobile phones and ear phones makes people vulnerable if they are caught off guard, he said.