Now brave Fiona hopes others will be inspired to break silence
ONE year ago last week, Fiona Doyle sat in a courtroom, within touching distance of the man who had abused her throughout her childhood.
She watched the book of evidence being served on her father – documents that catalogued the years of sexual abuse he had subjected her to.
But Ms Doyle was taking the first courageous steps along a path that ultimately led to Patrick O'Brien's imprisonment this year, and his daughter's emergence as a powerful advocate for the rights of the survivors of sexual abuse.
Her determination and bravery were recognised on Saturday at the Rehab RTE People of the Year Awards.
The Co Wicklow woman had reached a place she could never envisage one year ago, when she decided to publicly speak out about her ordeal.
"It's strange because I am getting an award for doing what I thought was the natural thing to do, but I am delighted," Ms Doyle told the Irish Independent.
With a book detailing her story due to be launched today and the People of the Year award drawing fresh attention to the issue of the rights of the survivors of sexual abuse, Ms Doyle is hoping her legacy can be to persuade others who have remained silent to come forward.
"It gives you such an amazing feeling of strength. I am not carrying shame or guilt any more. My life is a whole lot lighter," she said.
"I would like to get that message across that life does change. I will always be different and you will never put it behind you but you will learn to live with it a bit easier."
Other winners at this year's awards included comedian Brendan O'Carroll and members of the Irish women's rugby team.