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Rape survivor on waiving her anonymity: ‘I just wanted to say - this is who he is and this is what he did’

Ciara said she has received messages from other victims who are afraid to talk about their abuse.

Ciara waived her right to anonymity in order to name her abuser and to encourage other victims to come forward.
Ciara waived her right to anonymity in order to name her abuser and to encourage other victims to come forward.

A YOUNG WOMAN who was raped by her foster dad when she was 16 years old has spoken out about her “terrifying” ordeal in order to help other victims of assault.

Ciara Monahan was raped and sexually assaulted on 16 July 2016 by the foster dad she had been living with for over five years.

Richard Moloney (41) was sentenced to 12 years in prison last month, over three years after the assault.

Ciara, who waived her right to anonymity, spoke to TheJournal.ie about the impact the case has had on her in an effort to help other survivors of sexual assault.

“I still struggle a lot, I struggled ever since the day it happened,” the now 19-year-old said of the effect the assault has had on her mental health. 

“I’m on antidepressants, relaxers, sleepers. I’m on multiple medications that sedate me during the day, still.”

The case

Richard Moloney of Roscrea, Co Tipperary was found guilty by a jury of one count of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of sexually assaulting his then 16-year-old foster daughter at their Tipperary home on 16 July, 2016.

At a sentencing hearing last October, Ciara turned to face her attacker and told him “today I stand in front of you a survivor”. During sentencing, Mr Justice Alex Owens said Moloney had abused whatever trust the fostering agency had placed in him and that he has shown no remorse.

Victims are entitled to anonymity in sexual assault and rape cases, but Ciara chose to go public about her experience. 

She had been planning to stay anonymous – both because of the impact on her foster father’s family, and the fact she and her foster father were living in the same town while the case was ongoing.

However, she later changed her mind, and explained:

I did it for every other girl who’s afraid to speak up, because it’s really hard, and I sometimes questioned myself about why I did say anything in the first place – because it’s been so difficult.

Ciara said she hopes her experience will show other victims that justice is possible.

“But now that justice has been served, I would recommend every other girl to speak up. Not everyone is going to believe you but you know yourself and that’s all you can do.”

Foster care

Ciara went into the foster care of her aunt, and her aunt’s husband, following a family breakdown at her home in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, in 2010.  

She spent almost six years living with her aunt and Richard, but returned home following the assault in July 2016. 

When she first moved in with the family, she described how “everything was fine and it was all good.”

“They got a new family dog the year [I] moved in so we could all do something together as a family,” she described. 

The events of that night in July 2016 have stayed with Ciara, though she hoped the trial would have brought some sense of closure. 

“I remember every detail. It’s not a blur, I remember every single detail,” she said of her assault.

I thought then with the court trial that I’d get over it. But I think it’s always going to be something that’s with me forever. It’s just how I cope with it.

Since the assault, she has struggled to overcome the memories of her experience, and said she has attempted to take her own life on three occasions.

She said living with the aftermath of what happened is “extremely difficult”, particularly as the image of her attacker often pops into her mind when she is going about her day. 

“I’d just be seeing Richard, a lot of the time someone could be just talking to me and I’d only see him. I sleep with the light on every night, and that’s just since that night [of the assault].”

This in turn has had an impact on her own behaviour, which she says can affect her relationship with others in her family. 

“I’d be really angry and I’d take it out on everyone in my house. And I never, ever would have done anything like that before.

“I’ve come a good bit along but I’d get a step forward and then it would be two steps back. I could be grand one week and then I’ll just go back to it again, and taking my anger out on everyone, or being back at the doctor and sleeping all day.”

Court

During a lengthy court trial, Ciara had to give evidence outlining the details of her attack and the impact it has had on her. She described the fact that sexual assault victims have to give this evidence in the same room as their attacker as an “intimidating and unfair” request.

“I think the most difficult part in the court is when he is sitting in the box beside you and you have to walk up past him,” she said.

“I don’t know how I got through it. Beforehand I’d be saying ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it’ and I’d break down crying but at the last second, I’d do it and I don’t know where I got the strength to do it.”

Ciara also said she felt there was a “lack of support” from Tusla in the aftermath of her attack. She said her social worker was reassigned shortly after the attack and that she waited months before a new one was assigned to her.  

In response, Tusla has issued a statement apologising to Ciara and said “any abuse or allegation of abuse is taken extremely seriously by Tusla”.

“In Ciara’s case, Tusla very much regret that Ciara may feel that Tusla did not support her sufficiently and we apologise to her for this.

“We will support Ciara in any possible way – including through the provision of an Aftercare service – going forward to ensure she is provided with as much assistance as she needs to aid her recovery.”

Hopeful

Waiving her right to anonymity was a tough decision for Ciara, and “has drawn a lot of attention which I didn’t want”, the 19-year-old said. 

She wanted to go public – but had to accept that she couldn’t name her attacker without being named herself. 

“And I just wanted his face to be out there, and to say ‘this is who he is’ and ‘this is what he did’.”

79110143_1031204060564708_3809324344430034944_n Ciara said she is hopeful that the future will be bright, with plans to attend university next year.

Since she was named publicly as the teenager involved in the case, Ciara has been contacted by a number of people, both male and female, who have found themselves in similar situations and who are seeking help to bring their assailants to justice.

Even on Facebook, I’ve had a lot of people texting me about it saying ‘I’ve seen you’ve done this, and it happened to me but I haven’t told anyone yet’. So many people have texted me.

She said she understands the challenges and fears for people who want to report a sexual crime to gardaí: “Everyone is saying ‘Oh I don’t want to break my family up’ and one person actually said they had their uncle abuse them as well.

“And I can’t help everyone because I have my own problems going on. But I would say just speak up, tell someone. It has drawn attention to me but I don’t mind if it’s helping people.”

Ciara said she is hoping her darkest days are behind her now. Between working part-time, taking a childcare course, and looking at university courses for next year, she describes her outlook as “hopeful”.

“I’m hoping to achieve good results in the course [I'm studying] and go on to college next year, get my degree finally.”

She is also hoping to travel abroad in the coming years.

I think after the whole court process, it’s brought the family together and we’re more relaxed now. We actually said, at the table, this is the first Christmas we can enjoy now.

Ciara and her family, now that the court case is behind them, are focusing on the future.

“I think I’ve conquered my fears… To take from all of it, it’s that there is hope out there for everybody. If I can do it then anyone can do it and I definitely think there is hope for everyone.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact CARI (Children at Risk Ireland) for support on 1890 924 567).

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