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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Sexual violence victims traumatised by rugby rape trial reporting, says support group

Some victims of sexual violence were traumatised by reporting of the recent rugby rape trial, the chief executive of Nexus NI said.

Challenging conversations are needed as part of an open-minded review of the criminal justice system undertaken by retired judge John Gillen, Cara Cash added.

A recent spike in reporting by victims in Belfast was attributed to the proximity of the rugby rape trial.

Portadown and Ballymena have also seen recent peaks, sometimes due to a local story which victims or survivors can identify with, she said.

Ms Cash said: "Whilst we are in a democracy and there should be open access (to court), we also have to take into consideration when that reporting is traumatising individuals as they read it, how beneficial is it actually?

"Our primary concern is that things get better for victims and survivors and that they get better quick."

Nexus is seeking a more victim-centred approach to criminal justice and Ms Cash said everything was up for discussion, including anonymity for both defendants and victims and how social media use should be addressed.

She added: "What we really want is an honest look at what is going on with criminal justice."

Nexus wants to ensure negative experiences with the system are not repeated and recommendations are made which improve the outcomes for victims.

Ms Cash said publicising sexual violence, "breaking the silence", can help people realise they are not alone.

"When you hear a voice that sounds like yours or you hear a story that sounds like yours and you think well I was not on my own ... when you hear something you can identify with there is an empowerment there in knowing I am not on my own and I can then come forward and get help or seek justice."

If the issues in this article have affected you, you can contact Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 77 88 88, Sexual Violence Centre Cork on 1800 496 496 or Women's Aid NI on 0808 802 1414.

PA