Silent No More


From top: protests in Dublin city centre following the Belfast rape trial verdict; Àine Carroll

Last  Wednesday’s verdict was a difficult day for survivors of sexual violence and trauma – not because the verdict was flawed – but because our culture is.

Comedian Linda Hayden, herself a survivor of an horrific rape, had the following to say on Twitter,

“Today is about us rape survivors texting each other to check we are all OK. The answer is no, we are not.”

It is never wise to dispute a jury’s decision but only a fool would suggest that nothing should change in the aftermath of this particular verdict.

While on one hand we can accept it, we cannot accept the attitudes that the case illuminated. Momentarily we glimpsed inside the mind of youthful misogyny – and it is darker than any of us could have imagined.

The men involved now face into the future knowing things could have been a lot brighter and neither the complainant nor the  acquitted will ever carry themselves in quite the same way again.

If this case has done anything useful, it’s shown that we need to get real about how exposed our young men are to the toxic attitudes around sex, and how this in turn exposes not only our daughters, but also our sons, to risk.

As parents, we  need to get real about our own experiences before we can even start working it out for our children: how can  we reasonably expect boys to learn that actions have consequences when the system consistently fails to make grown men accountable?

How can we reasonably expect young men to respond appropriately to the conversation around consent if victims themselves cannot yet describe their experiences without shame and fear of being called a liar?

How can we reasonably expect men to know where the line is when we don’t always know ourselves when something criminal has occurred?

And how can we stand over the fact that an estimated eighty percent of sexual assaults go unreported?

It wasn’t until the #metoo movement in the aftermath of the Weinstein allegations that I began to look back on my own experiences with new understanding.

It took 12 years for me to realise I had been sexually assaulted by that stranger when he twisted my  nipple as I passed him on the street in broad daylight. Rather than make a “fuss”, I kept walking, in case confronting him made matters worse.

Some years later in a Spanish nightclub, a young Englishman, unknown to me, grabbed my vagina, hard, over my clothes. This time I wasn’t so polite and I slapped him – hard  – across the face.

What was most interesting about the incident was that he looked genuinely hurt by my response.

Now in my thirties, I can look back at my twenty-something self and feel a sting of menace towards that really nice guy I had been seeing who proceeded to have unprotected intercourse with me, moments after assuring me he would use a condom.

It is only now, thanks to the women who have spoken out ahead of me, that I can begin to understand that these were in fact criminal acts.

With this greater understanding comes a deep sense of relief and I no longer feel obliged
to stay quiet out of politeness. I have also been conditioned into believing I am ‘lucky’ for getting off ‘lightly’.

These attitudes demean men just as much as they demean women.

After Wednesday’s verdict was read out, I emailed the man I mentioned above to let him know  that what he did was criminal. Call it doing my bit towards ending a culture of male sexual entitlement that thrives on women staying quiet.

Instead of being heartbroken again on Thursday, comedian Linda Hayden decided to change the things she could no longer accept.

Dozens of people have responded to her call to action and an alliance of survivors, professionals and allies convened earlier this week to plan a road map for action in the aftermath of events in Belfast.

Action Against Sexual Violence Ireland (AASVI) intends to support victims while also being a vehicle for change.

Linda tells us that people need to channel anger into action:

“For now we are talking, and in talking we are creating  safe spaces that are charged by anger but soothed by healing. We will not stop until perpetrators of sexual violence are held to proper account.

The women and men who experience rape, sexual assault and trauma are not vessels or playthings and we are no less than the victims of any other crime.”

Those who question whether #metoo has gone too far should be reminded that silence is an ally of abuse.

If we want  make meaningful change we need to stop being polite and start making people uncomfortable about sexual violence and assault, especially those who are responsible for committing it.

Recent events have made it clear that while our boys need to be taught the meaning of consent, our girls need to be taught how to make a fuss.

The time for quiet politeness is over.

Áine Carroll is a writer and part time social care worker living in Dublin, Follw Áine on twitter: @ainecarroll127

Top pic: Rollingnews.


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113 thoughts on “Silent No More

  1. Diddy

    Some good points made here.. but if we were to arrest every man who tried to get away with a few cheeky unsheathed strokes before putting on the latex tomb , we’d be arresting every man on earth.

    And remember lads a guy was jailed for 3.5 years for that very act in the central criminal court a few weeks ago. Yep.. I know

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      “cheeky unsheathed strokes”? And they say there’s no such thing as rape culture.

      As for the rapist convicted for it, his victim specifically said she would not have sex with him unless he was wearing a condom. He ignored that and violated her and has been punished for that violation.

      1. Diddy

        He was punished alright. 3 and a half years. If he kicked her head in he’d probably have gotten a suspended sentance.

        1. cupofteaanyone

          And what if he had given her HIV or something else? If a guy does it to one girl he will do it to others.

          1. david

            And what about women with HIV
            Transsexuals with it? And other members of the LGBT?community
            Its not just heterosexual men who when they find out they have HIV to spread it
            Many cases world wide and statistics state fact that homosexual males are more sexually active with multi partners and casual sex.

          2. cupofteaanyone

            Well women do have HIV that’s how the guy would get it in the first place. But this is a response about a guy who lied. So yeah it could apply to anyone. Same if a girl poked holes in one.

        2. postmanpat

          She told him to go to the shop to get some jonnies , but he didn’t want too. He was guaranteed a ride but pushed his luck, the idiot. No one likes jonnies, if your circumcised it’s even worse apparently, but tough s**t , its better than nothing. Maybe he wanted to get her pregnant accidentally on purposely like a lot of insecure dopes do when they know they are punching above there weight? Or wanted to start a family because his visa was up?

    2. The Ghost of Starina

      “get away with a few cheeky unsheathed strokes”

      excuse me for not wanting your filthy STDs, you disrespectful, disgusting cretin.

    3. kellma

      No, not every man but probably a lot. The problem is that there are a lot of men out there that have this moronic attitude towards women… as you do. Men who think”hey I am stronger than her” (they are usually) and also think they know better (rarely the case as is exemplified by your kind self). And that is why we are where we are today. Time for a change…

    4. TheRealJane

      I suggest that you stay away from women or at least inform any woman with whom there is a prospect of sexual contact that you will not respect them or their bodily integrity.

  2. gavin

    Am I misreading this, its seems to be implied that the victim in the rape case is being called a liar and that the verdict was wrong. But yet opens with the statement the verdict was not flawed????

    1. The Old Boy

      Yes, I think you are misreading it.

      The author is making the very sensible point that there is little to be gained in second-guessing the verdict of a jury in a criminal trial. She is quite clearly making no point about the rights or wrongs of a particular verdict.

  3. TheRealJane

    I think there’s a lot of shock around this case.

    Almost every woman I know has said they would never report their rape because if the risk of not being able to secure a conviction. I don’t think anyone expected how horrific rape trials actually are for the IP until hearing about the extreme and public indignities this woman was subjected to. It is horrifying. And that galvanized the sense of injustice that women have long felt around the issue but are largely silent about.

    The backlash against women for expressing this tells you everything you need to know about why you don’t know that women are furious about it all. The rapes themselves, the lack of a change of prosecution, the sexual assaults, the horrible, demeaning language. The sneering superiority (oh dear, haven’t you heard of the presumption of innocence, you appalling ignoramus?) the calm down dear responses, the hysterical feminazi stuff.

    The problem is that there are loads of men, as our correspondent from the rape files above ably demonstrates, who are hostile to even understanding what rape is. I mean, it’s clear that he thinks not using a condom where required as rape is risible and that he brings it up in that manner shows that that’s an acceptable view in his circle. He could easily be on a jury.

  4. anne

    If someone twisted my nipple, I would have to be dug out of them.

    It’s outrageous behaviour.

    1. missred

      I got my backside grabbed in the Odeon and lamped the fupper square in the eye. He barely flinched

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        I find a good ear twist and a kick to the ballsack an excellent repellent.

        I learned a bit of self defense after I was assaulted at 17 when I was working as a waitress in a local bar.
        Pull the ear and twist as hard as you can and then kick them firmly in the nuts.

        1. missred

          The bottom lobe or the cartilage? I always heard not to bother with a knee in the balls as they can grab your leg then, so better to hit them in the face.
          The onus shouldn’t be on us to sort it out though. That responsibility should lie with those liable and not happen in the first place.

          1. mildred st. meadowlark

            Bottom lobe seems much more effective. Pull down as hard as you and twist. It worked on a number of occasions for me.

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            Also, I agree. I should not have been assaulted in my workplace, simply because I was young and willing to please in my first job. Or indeed at all. And I shouldn’t have had to learn the most effective way of getting rid of the men who thought my arse was public for grabbing.

            For the record, it’s not.

    2. The Ghost of Starina

      A lad felt up my bum in Supermacs on Eyre Square at about 4am one night, and i turned around and started screaming at him. In this instance, i was hungry, was grouchily sobering up and with friends so I felt enabled to give him the tearing he deserved. If it was a different situation i might’ve pretended it hadn’t happened. I was followed home once by a guy who obviously didn’t want me to know he was there, but instead of turning around and aksing him what he wants (as has been advised in these situations), i just stood and waited at a street crossing until he panicked and moved on. I was too afraid to cause a scene in case i couldn’t shake him then. There’s always the fear of retribution by the perp.

  5. Cian

    In the interim perhaps we need to teach people how to react of they are assaulted.
    The first time something happens the default for a lot of people is to freeze and do nothing (See nipple twisting above) however she learnt and the second time she reacted.
    If we were all taught appropiate ways to react to various levels of sexual assault then I think it would be a good start in making the perpetrators aware that they are being inappropriate.

    1. TheRealJane

      Do you really think that anyone really believed that twisting the nipple of a passing woman us appropriate and they just need to be told that it’s not really on to overhaul their views?

      1. Cian

        It’s like a lock on a bicycle. Let’s teach people not to rob bikes, but as a precaution lets also have a plan B for anyone that decides to rob a bike.

        I think there are two things
        1. Teach people not to sexually assault others. And yes, this is the key. But you can’t trust that everyone will get this. Hence:
        2. Teach people how to deal with an abuser. Make sure that they are aware that there in no consent. This means that there won’t be any “I didn’t know. He never said stop” cases.

    2. Catherine costelloe

      An excellent comment. The women victims that wake up in bed with a knife wielding rapist in their room primary fear is that he is going to murder them, and no one about to hear their screams. Party rape/ acquaintance rape is far more common and valuable lessons to potential victims should be a focus .

  6. Shane Duffy

    For the sake of balance it is vital to challenge the general consensus and suggest that the woman may have been lying. Yes, it’s a very hard pill to swallow, but none of us know the real truth, so it must be swallowed none the less.

    1. SOQ

      True but what we do know is that she was left bleeding, bruised and sobbing. That alone is unacceptable.

  7. rotide

    Honestly not trolling, but how is that sex without a condom thing rape? Does that not fall into a caveat emptor type of situation?

    I know I’ll be called all sorts of names for this question, but this honestly never crossed my mind and I’m geniunely wondering. It possibly makes me a misogynist of some sort.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      In that case the woman specifically said no sex without a condom and he ignored her and violated her.

    2. Nigel

      Unprotected sex without consent? Slipping off a condom during sex is what got Julian Assange in trouble in Sweden. No idea how the law treats it here but I have no hesitation in personally characterising it as a form of rape. The only caveat is that of course accidents happen and they break or slip off without anyone meaning it to happen, but we’re talking about doing it deliberately and without consent.

    3. The Ghost of Starina

      caveat emptor blames the woman for not knowing better. The fault here lies solely with the consent-violating, disrespectful, selfish sneak.

    4. TheRealJane

      It becomes easy to understand if you bear in mind that outside of an emergency situation, you have no business putting so much as a finger on another person if they don’t want you to. If someone allows you to touch them, you may only do it in the ways they permit for as long as they permit. If someone doesn’t want you to penetrate them without a condom, then you have no business doing anything of that kind.

      How could it not be rape? Just because someone allows sex with certain conditions is not a blanket permission to do whatever you want with their body even contrary to their express wishes.

    5. rotide

      OK, but being slightly facetious here, if a bloke tells a girl he’s a multi-millionaire and she sleeps with him, then discovers he’s actually a binman , is that breaking consent?

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        How much more basically do you need it explained.

        She said No to no condom.

        He raped her.

        1. rotide

          So if it was the woman assured the man she was on the pill and he subsequently found out she wasn’t is that now rape?

          1. Cian

            Different rules apply to men and women.
            Age of consent is different.
            A woman can’t rape[1] a man.

            [1] in a legal way. A woman can sexually assault a man. But can’t rape him

          2. The Ghost of Starina

            No, Rotide, you’re making up tons of scenarios and asking us to not only give you legal definitions but moral reasoning. It’s derailment. Use Google, there’s a world of information on these issues.

            @cian, women absolutely can rape men and people saying they can’t is the reason many male rape victims are afraid to come forward. Scarlet for you.

          3. The Old Boy

            Frustratingly common legal myth: “the age of consent is different”.

            It is not. The age of consent in Ireland is 17 for both males and females and has been for some time.

            It is true that a woman may not be charged with the offence of rape as Irish law currently stands.

          4. Cian


            If you look at the legal definition of rape then a woman cannot rape a man (unless she has a penis).

            See Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990

        2. david

          Yes he did but the real reason for this story is to link it to the alleged rape in Belfast
          Talking about that the Edinburgh rugby team wore shorts advertising fine rumps right on the arse
          playing Ulster today

        1. rotide

          So if I sleep with a woman who assures me she is single and i subsequently find out she’s married, have I been raped? Has the woman been raped in a vice/versa?

          Again, not trolling. I have no knowledge at all about the facts of that case, just going by what was written here.

          1. Nigel

            I expect there would be a sliding scale of severity, from a moral point of view. Legally I’ve no idea.

          2. postmanpat

            One person trapping the other through pregnancy happens all the time. rotide, if your offered condom free sex on the basis that a relative stranger is on the pill , you should probably pull out before the end just incase. If the woman takes offence you’ll know you were probably lied too. But then of course you have the outside chance of a vindictive allegation of rape made against you by some crazy woman and your DNA all over the place would support her story. Nightmare scenario I know but I’m sure it’s happened to a few poor saps.

        2. The Old Boy

          Moral and ethical ones certainly, but the millionaire/binman setup does not vitiate consent as far as the law is concerned. There are obviously grey areas between the two extremes. A knowing falsehood regarding your sexual health would certainly be a legal issue, for example.

    6. Brother Barnabas

      “caveat emptor” ?

      we’re going to start thinking your sexual relations stem from commercial transactions, rotide

        1. postmanpat

          Seriously? That illegal here now, like, jail time illegal. Which I think is ridiculous but in the current climate I think a few non-rapie johns are going to be sent down as an example and soon. Meanwhile, Jackson and Co walk free. Hooray!

    7. cupofteaanyone

      Its like that cup of tea analogy. if a someone consents to drinking a cup of tea and you give them one you took a dump in, you cannot say after “but they consented to drinking the tea” They consented to tea, not a tea with a turd in it.

  8. Owen C

    “While on one hand we can accept it, we cannot accept the attitudes that the case illuminated.”

    A significant part of the angry response over the last week has been a refusal to accept the verdict. The hashtag #ibelieveher is implicitly, if not explicitly, a refusal to accept the verdict. The constant claims that “not guilty doesn’t mean innocent” is a refusal to accept the verdict. I understand why there is a lot of anger at the whole case and its origins, but at least acknowledge that a huge proportion of the response has in fact been a refusal to accept the verdict.

    1. SOQ

      No. Not guilty ≠ innocent in law. This applies to all, not just rape cases. In the states not guilty = not proven which is actually a more accurate description imo although some say there is a difference between the two.

      A lot of people accept the verdict but are appalled at the way the girl was treated. Some also criticise the PSNI and the prosecution service. You would need to have your head shoved very far up your uranus to not understand that the legal system as it pertains to rape, is badly in need reform.

      1. Owen C

        Accused are innocent until proven guilty under our judicial system, and similarly so in the UK. They were found not guilty by a jury trial. They are therefore assumed to remain innocent of the allegations. This is very much straight forward.

        You said: “A lot of people accept the verdict”. This would seem to leave open that a lot of people don’t.

        So I said: “A significant part of the angry response over the last week has been a refusal to accept the verdict…… least acknowledge that a huge proportion of the response has in fact been a refusal to accept the verdict.”

        What part of what I said was actually wrong? You’d have to have your head stuck up your uranus to not read the sentence correctly.

        1. SOQ

          Of course you could have just googled this yourself if you really wanted to know. I doubt if there is any jurisdictional difference on this issue.

          As below, what does #ibelieveher actually mean to you? Go read what these women are actually saying. They want reform of the system because it is very loaded towards the defendant, one or more.

          Are you saying that you think the legal system does not need reform?

          1. Owen C

            Wow, you linked to a US law firm. That’s amazing.

            Look, by this line of thinking innocence can never be proven (on any allegation of any sort) and is an entirely subjective matter that is at the mercy of public opinion aka the angry mob. Except for the actual legal position which states that Paddy Jackson & Co are still entitled to the presumption of innocence, this having been the situation before the case started and it still being the case after the case’s conclusion. The only court verdict that could have taken away that presumption of innocence was a guilty verdict, while a not guilty verdict would maintain the innocence presumption. Maybe the actual answer is that “not guilty doesn’t mean innocent but the accused are actually still presumed innocent”? It seems like semantics with the intention of implying the court verdict has not been accepted (which is where this whole discussion started).

          2. Owen C

            Re legal reform. Yes, it is required. For starters, the accused need anonymity as well so the case can be played out without public opinion attempting to be the daily arbiter of innocence vs guilt before the jury has even had a chance to rule on the case.

  9. Clampers Outside!

    We could start a group for barmen and ex-barmen who have had their crotches grabbed and butts pinched and kisses on the lips stolen.

    I like that this piece mentions ‘men and women’ who have experienced sexual assault. It is important, not to view one as a lesser crime than another.

    My above first sentence in that context should not be interpreted as facetious, thank you.

    1. The Ghost of Starina

      Clamps, I think you would appreciate that at the #Ibelieveher/#metoo march last weekend, the very first speaker was a young man who had been assaulted. He got a great response from the crowd.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        Fair dues, wasn’t aware Starina.

        I miss the big smoke and all its’ goings on sometimes.

        I worked in pubs for five years myself, the three type incidences I mention are tame compared to what I’ve seen and experienced.

      2. huh?

        I heard rumours of this online. Apparently the young man believed somebody asking him to take a photo of him on the beach amounted to an assault.
        I wasn’t there . This is only what I heard online. Fee free to correct me.

        1. The Ghost of Starina

          He was groomed by an adult man who got him to send scantily-dressed photos of himself and his also-underage siblings.

          I actually had a similar experience as a teen. It’s creepy AF.

          1. huh?

            Fair enough. Only quoting what I heard online. Just goes to show that you should never believe what you see online.

    2. SOQ

      There are varying degrees of assault Clamps and yes, women can sometimes be as bad as men although I doubt if as often. What you describe happens a lot on the gay scene and occasionally if no music you will see and hear the odd biatch getting slapped down.

      But, if someone says they were raped, they are more often than not believed, the polar opposite of a srt8 accusation. There is no gender politics at play and that is why I keep asking why it was nearly all srt8 men who used the #Ibelievehim tag.

    1. The Ghost of Starina

      I used to be pals with a girl who was repeatedly molested by the neighbour boy when they were these ages. It went on for years. He told her he would kill her brother if she told anyone. His parents taught him to take whatever he wanted, even if it wasn’t his, that domination was the correct masculine behaviour. I doubt they meant sexual assault but here we are.

  10. Nigel

    Fully agree Clampers. I think a lot more men than we realise will be familiar with her responses to those incidents of sexual assault.

    (That would include me, by the way.)

    1. Clampers Outside!

      I hear ya, and I’d note too that if a guy responded the way she did, to slap the person, he’d be likely arrested for physical assault.

      It’s a very very fine line on what is an appropriate response to inappropriate behaviour.

      1. andydufresne2010

        What would be an appropriate response for a guy in that situation? Shouting? A quiet word? You’re likely to get laughed at by the perpetrator I’d say. I think her response in slapping his face was appropriate but I have no idea what an appropriate response would be vice versa

      2. Brother Barnabas

        actually, i have personal (ish) experience of that. 15+ years ago, working in hogan’s, there was an incident involving sexual assault and reaction:

        group of drunkish girls were sort of pestering these two guys at the bar (who i knew to be both gay, by the way). while one of the guys was ordering, one of the girls – with her friends watching on with glee – came behind him, hand between legs and grabbed his tackle. he reacted (instinctively, i thought) by throwing his arm back into her chest. combination of heels, booze and bit of force, she went sprawling across the floor. everyone around reacted, directing fury at him. girl stood up and insisted the guards be called. when the guards arrived and listened to both sides of the story, had literally zero interest in what had happened first. only interest was on whether it was a instinctive push or an intentional shove. while he was outside giving his statement, the girl’s friends surrounded him, pointing fingers and telling him what a prick and a scumbag he was. ultimately came down to my statement that it was an instinctive reaction. he, understandably, i think, felt a little hard done by.

        1. The Ghost of Starina

          Jaysus, poor lad! Bad form on the girls, that’s ladette behaviour straight out of the 90s.

        2. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          You worked in Hogan’s? Crikey. I spent a LOT of time in that bloody bar.
          *starts excel spreadsheet*

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Nah. I couldn’t score in a whorehouse with a bunch of 50s in me hand. Useless.

          2. The Old Boy

            *Sups pint, peers over top of Irish Times*

            Edit: written before Andy’s reply – which gives it a slightly different spin.

          3. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Were you expecting a “Wait, you’re not …” followed by an “Oh, sweet Jesus, you ARE!” type reveal?
            That would’ve been awesome. I would have dropped my own knitting had that been the case.

  11. SOQ

    And just on the #ibelieve tag. Is it not the case that they are actually about two different things? Her is wider, about how the girl was generally treated while him is very specific to the actual charges?

    1. Owen C

      She complained that she was raped. The jury did not agree. People said I believe her. Forgive us if we apply Occums Razor to what is underpinning the hashtag’s purpose.

        1. Owen C

          If you want me to do a search of the hashtag, i am pretty certain a lot of the commentary will suggest unhappiness with the verdict (not just the process), including allegations of getting away with it, it being a terrible verdict, the accused being guilty/rapists etc. Do you disagree that this is likely what we will find?

          1. andydufresne2010

            It’s possible to accept that a decision was handed down by the jury and there’s nothing you can do about it and also be unhappy with the verdict. Why be so pedantic?

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