Sunday 23 October 2016

Rape victim Niamh's shock as ex walks free: 'I’m left reeling, and my parents are too, and all my friends who were there to support me'

Geraldine Gittens

Published 14/07/2015 | 09:19

Magnus Meyer Hust veit received a seven-year suspended sentence for raping his girlfriend while she slept
Magnus Meyer Hust veit received a seven-year suspended sentence for raping his girlfriend while she slept

A teacher raped by her boyfriend while she slept has criticised the suspended seven-year prison sentence he was handed yesterday.

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Niamh Nic Dhomhnaill, a former secondary school teacher from Dublin, said this suspended sentence sent out "the wrong message" to victims of rape and sexual violence.

The court heard she had been raped and sexually assaulted in her sleep by Magnus Meyer Hustveit (25).

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the most significant features of the case were the deceit, the repetition of the offences, and the effect on the victim.

“I think it sends such a clear message to Irish society that rape and sexual violence is not being taken seriously enough,” she told Newstalk Breakfast’s Chris Donoghue today.

“I’m still very shocked at the ruling. It’s a lot to take in. For me, and I think this is due to the people who support me, the judge took his time in making the ruling. He seemed to be cognisant of the fact that what he did was quite serious.

“He acknowledged in principle the severity of Magnus’s actions, but in reality that acknowledgement seemed to mean nothing with a fully suspended sentence.”

“I’m left reeling, and my parents are too, and all my friends who were there to support me.”

Read More: Young teacher's anger after boyfriend who raped her while she slept avoids jail

The Norwegian man, previously of Leo Street, North Circular Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to one count of rape, and one count of sexual assault, between 2011 and 2012.

Ms Nic Dhomhnaill (28) said her trauma has proved to be only a “minor blitz” in Hustveit’s life.

“It’s only fair that when you do wrong that you bear consequences of some sort. This has had no impact on his life. He is in a very committed relationship... apparently he has been in steady employment all the time... his employers know about his actions apparently... and they would hope to take him back... because he is so irreplaceable in his work.”

“I haven’t been able to work for some time. I’ve been physically unwell, mentally drained.”

 “It’s paving a way for people (a) not to report and (b) take matters into their own hands... People will just start to say there’s no point in going through the process, the heartbreak, and they may just as well take the matter into their own hands,” she told Newstalk.

Read More: Rape sentences must reflect the gravity

The facts of the case emerged only when Hustveit wrote to his former partner stating he had been using her "body for my gratification" for nearly a year.

She first met Hustveit in a bar in Dublin city centre in 2011. They began a relationship, and moved in together that year. But she had problems with his use of pornography.

In 2012 she woke up to find herself wet with what she believed to be semen.

She confronted Hustveit who admitted he had had sex with her while she slept. She told him that it was a problem, but the relationship continued.

Ms Nic Dhomhnaill said that it had taken two years to fully comprehend the magnitude of Hustveit's crimes.

“I wanted to highlight that rape in sleep is rape, it doesn’t have to be some stranger in an alleyway.”

“Watching the Mairia Cahill documentary on Spotlight was a real turning point for me in terms of going forward. If I can do that for one person, if I can get people taking about rape... then that’s a good thing.”

She said she had consistent flashbacks and nightmares, and while trying to move on with her life, she has “a lot of dark days in between”.

“Sometimes you make some headway and other times you go ten steps back. I don’t want Magnus and his actions to take anything away from me that he hasn’t already.”

“I’m trying to see that the world isn’t a dark place.”

“I have wonderful parents, ridiculously great friends, the first boyfriend I’ve ever had that’s been good and caring for me.”

She urged victims to contact the “Rape Crisis Network, One in Four, Samaritans, whatever it is, don’t stop until you feel support and love... Speak out against this. Get in touch.”

“If you don’t get the right reaction, and the initial response is not a supportive response, don’t leave it at that. Don’t think that everyone will have that response.”

“Men are also victims of sexual crimes. Sexual crimes are seen as heterosexual male and female actions, they’re absolutely not,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, Ms Nic Dhomhnaill told RTE’s Morning Ireland that Magnus’s actions has changed her.

“It did take me some time to call this what it was. But it was rape and that was a very difficult conclusion to draw.”

“It certainly has taken three years away from my life. I don’t want to give my abuser any more power by using the word ‘destroyed’... but I’m a completely different person.”

“I don’t think I understood it (the sentencing). I heard the words. But I don’t think it sank in. The judge was very deliberate and he spoke for quite a while. He kept repeating ‘seven years’. I never expected Magnus to spend seven years in prison, I expected he would spend some nominal, tokenistic time in prison that was representative of what he has taken from me,” she said.

“It’s appalling that someone can commit those crimes. Somehow there are other factors that now trump that... I don’t know can you ever get your head around that.”

Ms Nic Dhomhnaill said the onus should not be on victims to come forward and challenge the criminal justice system.

For support and information related to rape and sexual violence, call the Rape Crisis Centre’s national 24-Hour Helpline on 1800 77 88 88.

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