Wednesday 22 November 2017

Brendan O'Connor: Jailing of rapist is a victory for all victims

The letter of the law deferred to the spirit of humanity when Judge Carney sent Patrick O'Brien to prison

Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

THERE was a disturbing undercurrent to the story of Fiona Doyle's abuse. Fiona has spoken about how, at the age of eight, she was known as her father's whore. Elsewhere, Fiona has said that her own mother would actually refer to as a whore, when she was beating her. It is a strange thing to call a child, isn't it?

But in fact Fiona Doyle thinks that her mother, who seems, as far as we can see, to be still standing by her husband, knew about the abuse. Can a woman really know that her husband is raping her daughter every time she goes to bingo and not do anything about it for nine years? Can that mother actually, in some weird way, blame the young girl? Can she really, as Fiona Doyle thinks, cast this young girl as the "other woman" in the marriage, as if a young child can be a temptress who seduces her own father, a sexual rival to the mother?

This disturbing thread was evidenced too in the mention of how Fiona Doyle dressed as a child. Patrick O'Brien had initially denied that he had raped his daughter as a matter of course for almost a decade. He claimed that his daughter was making up the accusations because, in his words, "I was very hard on her because of the way she was dressing". Again the suggestion that this young girl was some kind of tramp, who dressed inappropriately. Indeed, in this lie, Patrick O'Brien very much portrays himself as an upright man trying to protect his daughter, the "whore", from inviting unwanted attention. There is an undercurrent there that suggests she was "asking for it" in the way she dressed.

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