Sunday 24 September 2017

Shane Dunphy: A sex assault victim may never find peace

We must reassess how crimes that rob the victim of so much are treated by the law, writes Shane Dunphy

ONCE VIBRANT: Michelle Hennessy committed suicide after she had been sexually assaulted; even with love and support, the damage done by a sex attack can be insurmountable
ONCE VIBRANT: Michelle Hennessy committed suicide after she had been sexually assaulted; even with love and support, the damage done by a sex attack can be insurmountable

Shane Dunphy

IN the photo, Michelle Hennessy, 25, looks serenely beautiful. Her red hair catches the light and she gazes wistfully into the middle distance as if she recalling a fondly held memory.

As I looked at that image of Michelle – who took her own life in 2012 – across the print media this week, I was powerfully reminded of a girl I used to work with many years ago. For the purpose of this article, I'll call her Jessica. At 17 she was a little younger than Michelle, but the similarities are still striking.

Just like Michelle, Jessica was a strong, vibrant young woman. She wanted to see the world and she had a particular fascination for desert places; she mentioned to me once that she loved the idea of all that open space, all the freedom.

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