THE head of Cork's Sexual Violence has issued a warning to young people preparing for Leaving Cert holidays following disturbing reports of rape among peers.
Mary Crilly, who was recently honoured with the Freedom of the City of Cork said that in recent years they have dealt with service users who had regarded it as safer to keep company with Irish people while on holiday. Nonetheless, those affected had no idea that the person they once considered a friend would become their rapist.
Ms Crilly added that many end up having to share the same flight home with their abuser as they attempt to keep their trauma a secret.
She pointed out that it can be easier to report an abuser who is a stranger to the victim.
"In the majority of abuse cases that happen while on holidays it is not the locals of the area that are responsible,” Ms Crilly said.
Irish girls travelling to places like Spain or Italy feel safer around Irish guys. However, the Irish men assaulting women in Ireland are doing the same abroad. The issue in this situation is that the girl is far more vulnerable while away from home. Much of the time she will have been in school with the abuser or known them from the area. It's less difficult to report a stranger. Rapists work close to home because that's how they get their power and control. The sad thing is that a stranger will be reported but your brother's friend won't."
Mary said that often the victim will spend the remainder of their holiday isolated after an attack. Other times they will be unable to find support among the group.
She spoke of how abuse can affect a person's outlook on the future.
"Everyone is entitled to feel excited about the future and a new chapter in their lives, yet there are young people struggling to get up in the mornings because they have been raped.
The abuser is never held to account because in a bizarre way they feel that this was their entitlement. I have come across people who haven't gone away on their J1 because the abuser is part of the group they were planning to travel with. The reality is that he wasn't going to change his plans for anyone so it's the victim who has to remain isolated The reality is that someone has made the decision to destroy a person's life but does not have to face the consequences."
She said the statistics relating to rape and abuse remain shockingly high.
It comes after Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan told the Joint Policing Committee meeting earlier this year that reports of rape in the city rose from 44 in 2020 to 46 last year and sexual assaults from 90 to 111.
In North Cork, the number of rapes dropped from 28 to 20, but sexual assaults increased from 28 to 52.
In West Cork, the number of reported rapes rose from 15 to 25 and sexual assaults increased from 37 to 41.
- The Sexual Violence Centre is located at 5, Camden Place, Cork. FREEFONE 1800 496 496. Twitter @SVCCork Instagram sexualviolencecork