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Roslyn O'Callaghan speaking to RTÉ's Upfront with Katie Hannon RTÉ
women of honour

Former army corporal says she was raped by more senior Defence Forces member while serving abroad

Roslyn O’Callaghan said the assault was carried out by a senior non-commissioned officer during the late 1990s.

A FORMER IRISH army corporal has said she was raped by a more senior Defence Forces member while serving overseas for the first time. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Upfront with Katie Hannon, Roslyn O’Callaghan said the assault was carried out by a senior non-commissioned officer during the late 1990s. 

O’Callaghan was speaking following the publication last week of the Independent Review Group report into allegations of misconduct and abuse in the Defence Forces. 

She has been part of the Women of Honour group (WoH) since it began but this is the first time she is telling her story publicly. 

The WoH are number of female Defence Forces members who acted as whistleblowers in regard to their own treatment over bullying and sexual harassment in their military lives.

O’Callaghan told Upfront that the incident happened after she attended an off-base party. 

She said she became “violently ill” after drinking “too much” and recalled being put lying on her side in a colleague’s bed after she couldn’t gain access to her own room. 

O’Callaghan said she was attacked during the night. 

“I remember waking up. I remember this man kissing me. I can remember my shorts being taken off me and my underwear. I remember this man having sex,” she said. 

“I describe it as if there was an angel looking over me trying to wake me up. I knew there was something happening, but I couldn’t stop it. I wasn’t able to fight.”

O’Callaghan said she reported the assault to two senior officers. 

She was transferred to a civilian hospital for assessment. 

She also made a statement to the military police. 

Following an investigation by the Defence Forces, O’Callaghan said she received news that there was insufficient evidence to charge her alleged attacker with sexual assault or rape. 

“I was told by the female officer that he was not going to be charged with rape. There was going to be no charge of rape. Not that it didn’t happen. It did happen, but they can’t prove it. There’s not enough evidence,” she said. 

However, the senior officer was charged in a disciplinary hearing with sexual conduct with an officer of a lower rank and being in female quarters. 

In 2001, O’Callaghan was seen by a Defence Forces psychiatrist, who is now deceased, and was diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

O’ Callaghan says she wasn’t told of this diagnosis and that it took another 15 years before she found out.

“I suffered in silence. It got to the point, Katie, where I needed help. I just couldn’t function,” she said. 

At this point, O’Callaghan got access to her medical records under the Freedom of Information Act and discovered her diagnosis from 15 years previously.

She said: “Why didn’t they tell me? If they had then I could have been treated. I mean I had a second suicide attempt…”

When asked why she felt now was the right time to tell her story, O’Callaghan said: “I am no longer alone. I can now stand up and say I have people who believe me. I have women who believe me and I have men who believe me. And I am Roslyn O’Callaghan, and I am a survivor and these are the Women of Honour and we are not alone.”

RTÉ said Upfront asked the Defence Forces to comment on O’Callaghan’s case but it declined.

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