Sunday 23 April 2017

It's time we started to put rape victims first, instead of the rapists

Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill was raped by her partner and then abused by our justice system

ROUGH JUSTICE: The experience of abuse related by Mairia Cahill, left, on BBC ‘Spotlight’ resonated with Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill, who was raped by Magnus Meyer Hustveit
ROUGH JUSTICE: The experience of abuse related by Mairia Cahill, left, on BBC ‘Spotlight’ resonated with Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill, who was raped by Magnus Meyer Hustveit
Fiona Doyle
Magnus Meyer-Hustveit
Louise O'Keefe from Bandon Co. Cork

Mairia Cahill

I've never met Niamh Ni Dhomhnaill, though over the last week, I've spoken to her daily. Last year, she sat down to watch the interview I gave to reporter Jennifer O'Leary on BBC One's Spotlight about my experiences. It resonated with her. She was "under enormous personal stress" at the time. "I was sick in bed, I hadn't slept, I was so weak I was barely even able to get tea. I was physically at my weakest when I watched it."

There were similarities in my account of having been asleep when my abuse as a child started, and the effect that this had had, and in Niamh's account of being raped and sexually assaulted multiple times while she slept by her then-partner Magnus Meyer Hustveit. "It was how you spoke without fear about such a frightening experience that really struck a chord with me," Niamh told me. "I had wanted to go public, but that programme was a game-changer for me. I guess I just saw aspects of you in me."

I felt exactly the same when I heard the very disturbing details of her case. We both simultaneously contacted the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to enquire about how the other was doing, and the centre put us in touch. The rest, as they say, is fate. It shouldn't be, though I am delighted at our newfound friendship.

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