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With the Christmas party season now starting to get underway, Ms Crilly said she wanted to ensure people get home safely, adding that men in society have a duty to call out any bad behaviour by their colleagues or friends. Pic: iStock
With the Christmas party season now starting to get underway, Ms Crilly said she wanted to ensure people get home safely, adding that men in society have a duty to call out any bad behaviour by their colleagues or friends. Pic: iStock
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Women in Cork have had to quit their jobs following sexual assaults at Christmas parties

SEXUAL assaults at Christmas office parties have led to a number of people in Cork quitting their jobs, the director of Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre has revealed.

“The employer didn’t force them to leave,” said the centre’s founder and director Mary Crilly. “However, life as they knew it was being made impossible.”

She said that in the majority of cases, the victims had attempted to adjust back to normality with little success.

 “I want to make sure every woman and girl gets home safe this Christmas.” - Mary Crilly. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“I want to make sure every woman and girl gets home safe this Christmas.” - Mary Crilly. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Ms Crilly said that many women who experienced sexual assaults were in their 40s and 50s.

“A lot of women feel that once they get to a certain age they won’t be raped. The misconception is often that only young women who are drunk get raped,” she said.

“The truth is that you can get raped at any age.”

With the Christmas party season now starting to get underway, Ms Crilly said she wanted to ensure people get home safely, adding that men in society have a duty to call out any bad behaviour by their colleagues or friends.

“I want to make sure every woman and girl gets home safe this Christmas,” she said.

“This year I want us to call the guys out. Something as simple as someone threatening not to go out with their friend anymore as a result of their behaviour could be enough to deter them,” she said.

“If you see a man going home with a woman she never had any interest in previously, the chances are it could be non-consensual.”

Ms Crilly emphasised that the most difficult part of an assault can be the mind games afterwards: “It’s when a guy messes with their head and leads them to believe this was consensual that things become really difficult. Often they just want to ask ‘why me’ and what they did ever do to them.

She added that many victims of office party assaults were unable to rebuild their lives after the attack.

“Some of the women loved their jobs and had that taken away from them,” she said. 

“The majority have tried to go back to their work situation. They are trapped as they still have to pay for rent or a mortgage. People will try to normalise things after rape because it’s the only way they can cope.”

“When they see the perpetrator is going about their business like nothing’s happened, they wonder if what happened to them was imagined. They have had colleagues say they were ‘both drunk’ and it was ‘no big deal’.”

“However, every time she looks at him she’ll shake until eventually she has to leave the workplace altogether.

“Women feel afraid of reporting these crimes because they won’t be believed. I would like to see that reversed so men are afraid of committing the crime because of the conviction they will face. They need to know that if they do this there will be consequences.”