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Sunday 22 April 2018

'After I was raped, my identity was revealed on social media'

Niamh Cosgrave said she was deeply affected by the Ulster rape trial. Photo: Gwenaëlle Robert-Beauvais
Niamh Cosgrave said she was deeply affected by the Ulster rape trial. Photo: Gwenaëlle Robert-Beauvais
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

A survivor of rape has spoken about how she lost the ability to remain anonymous due to social media.

Former Fine Gael senator and public representative Niamh Cosgrave said that she was deeply affected by the Ulster rugby rape trial.

Niamh, who now lives in west France, was attacked in her own home in 2012. She said she understood how the woman at the centre of the trial must feel after her own identity was revealed online.

"I lost my ability to remain anonymous because I live in a small town," she told the Irish Independent. "While I was in hospital, I was being treated for my injuries and undergoing surgery. During that time, I discovered social media had taken away my power and I felt raped again."

Niamh said that she respects the result of the jury in the Belfast case, adding: "I am obliged to do so by law."

"I congratulate the Crown Prosecution Service for recommending that this case be processed. The victim clearly believed that she was raped and was supported by the CPS," she said. "I encourage any woman who has been raped - or believe they have been raped - to contact the Rape Crisis Centre."

But Niamh said that she was horrified by some of the commentary. "The Taoiseach's comments about this case - in referring to abortion in the context of the Eighth Amendment - has upset many, both pro-choice and those who want to prevent abortion in any circumstances," she said.

"The Taoiseach made an enormous error in his interview. I am available at any time to engage with any committee set up by our Government to testify regarding my intimate details and indeed the experience of the many women who have called me.

"I made the mistake before of speaking to a tabloid about my fear of pregnancy following the rape and how the effect made me terrified and suicidal. I was then met with an avalanche of emails saying that I had no right to enter a church. This deeply upset me."

Niamh called on all to treat the upcoming abortion referendum with respect, regardless of their choice.

"I am calling for common sense, understanding and a law that will allow any woman to speak to her doctor and be referred to a specialist in emergency situations - should it be abortion or other solutions," she said.

Irish Independent

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