Cork teenagers warned of sexual assault risk while on Leaving Cert holidays

Cork teenagers warned of sexual assault risk while on Leaving Cert holidays
Mary Crilly of the Sexual Violence Centre.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE director of Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre has issued a stark warning to students booking post-Leaving Cert trips, following disturbing reports from young holidaymakers.

Mary Crilly said that she encounters young women every year telling of assaults while on holiday. She said Leaving Cert students are particularly vulnerable on post-exam holidays.

She emphasised that, more often than not, the assaults are carried out by someone who is Irish and known to the victims, rather than locals of the resort.

“I’m seeing this every year,” she said. “When gangs go away together it’s like going to a huge party. Most young women will feel safe around Irish guys.

“The majority of men won’t behave like this but for the ones that do, it’s like a hunting ground. They watch and are ready to pounce. That’s why it’s important that people really mind and look after each other.”

She noted barriers to reporting a crime. “A lot of people don’t want to become known as ‘that girl who got raped on holidays’. Some have boyfriends at home and fear it might interfere with their relationship.”

She added: “The young person will be afraid of telling [their parents] when they didn’t want them to go in the first place.

Ms Crilly encouraged victims to report an assault and get tested for any sexually transmitted infections.

She also condemned victim blaming.

"It gets to me every time," she said. "Remarks like "you're on holiday. Of course they're going to try it on" always get to me. This isn't "trying it on," it's breaking a person." 

The activist reiterated the importance of support for victims.

"They do need support. When something like this happens it can't possibly be your fault. Crime is never your fault."

For more information on support for victims of sexual violence visit http://www.sexualviolence.ie/contact/.

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