Sunday 22 January 2017

Galway poet who wrote about rape ordeal hits back at online trolls

Published 21/10/2016 | 17:25

Unsolicited advice from a failed male poet by Alvy Carragher
Unsolicited advice from a failed male poet by Alvy Carragher

AN Irish poet has shared a poem on YouTube that challenges the people who abused her online after she shared the story of her rape earlier this year.

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Alvy Carragher, a Galway poet who represented Ireland at an international poetry event in New York this summer, said she received a torrent of online abuse after reciting a poem about a sexual assault she was subjected to at the age of 24.

“It took me nearly three years to write about the rape, which happened on New Year’s Eve when I had just turned 24. I recited it in public at a venue in Dublin in the early summer this year and that is when my troubles with the trolls really started,” Carragher told The Guardian.

“It was so shocking when I read them on my phone because they were quite creepy. They objected to my poem Numb, which was to do with the rape, although I wrote it in an ambiguous way, pointing out to my attacker that there was no consent, that this was a sexual assault.

“They ranged from ‘You are just making this rape up’ to ‘This wasn’t actually rape.’ There were even comments questioning whether I was ‘rapeable’ or not! There were even some women questioning whether I was telling the truth about the rape.”

Carragher decided to use the words of one abuser, who sent her several thousand words’ word of abuse in an email, to hit back at them with a powerful poem, which she has now shared on YouTube.

“I decided to turn his very own words against him,” she said. “I wasn’t particularly bothered by the email but rather the fact that other young women, especially female writers, were being turned against in exactly the same way. So I was conscious to use all his words against him instead of labelling him as anything.

“Using that one individual’s words is my way of taking back power from him.”

Noeline Blackwell, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO, told The Guardian: “When you think of how hard many people find it to reveal a sexual assault, including rape, to anyone – friend, authority figure, family member – then those who speak out publicly about those assaults show huge courage, a great sense of justice and a recognition that such assault is harmful, criminal and not the fault of the victim.

“When people speak out publicly, they can be met by a wide range of reactions from people not wanting to know and turning away, through solid support to yes, outright abuse. However, that virulent abuse does not seem to be the most common reaction.”

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, you can get in touch with the Rape Crisis Centre’s 24-hour hotline at 1800 77 88 88.

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