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'There's a lot we can do to make the court process easier for rape victims'

Yesterday a rape victim told the Central Criminal Court that the trial was one of the hardest things she has ever had to do.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

IN THE AFTERMATH of a rape trial that saw a former Ros na Rún actor convicted of orally raping a young woman the Rape Crisis Network has outlined ways that victims of sexual violence could be better protected during trials.

Garrett Phillips was convicted of orally raping the then 20-year-old woman on the outskirts of Galway city in the early hours of November 5, 2015. He had pleaded not guilty to the offence and has no previous convictions.

In her victim impact statement the woman said the court process, during which she had to sit inches away from her attacker, was one of the hardest things she has ever had to do.

The woman said she was forced to speak about something painful and made to feel like a liar when giving her evidence over two days.

Clíona Saidléar of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) said the case illustrates the extreme pressure trials can put on the victims of sexual violence.

She said that there are a measures that could be taken to make the courts process easier for victims.

“You could cut down on delay without impacting due process. You could cut down on cross-examination without impacting on due process,” she said.

We really need to learn to support survivors whose lives are being put on hold. It’s a very difficult space and we need to learn to handle that better.

Describing her personality before the attack the woman described how she had been “ultimately happy” with “no major struggles”. “I wasn’t afraid of anything, I was indestructible,” she said.

She revealed that she still takes medication for depression and anxiety and does not feel safe walking alone or sometimes in her own home.

She said because of the court process taking so long and being “attacking to victims” she was made to feel that the incident was her fault. She said she lost a lot of friends and her family relationships have also suffered.

It’s not my fault, this wasn’t supposed to happen to me, but it did and here I am.

With reporting by Aoife Nic Ardghail

About the author:

Ceimin Burke

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