Warning: this publication may be triggering for some people.
Singer Demi Lovato has released a documentary series this week and she made the shocking revelation she has been sexually abused in the past. The statement came out in the same month we celebrated International Women’s Day worldwide. Still in the same month, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre released a campaign called 100 consent, with famous Irish Tiktokers promoting clear communication in sexual relationships on their social media with the #100Consent.
Consent means asking for permission. If you’re still not sure what consent means, the DRCC put together this PDF to help. It gives a concise and direct explanation of what it is and the consequences that it can lead to. And in this PDF here you can check out what is the current sexual assault legislation in Ireland.
Even though there is legislation to protect the victims of any form of sexual assault, many prefer to not report it or they only come forward a long time after the incident, like Demi, who only spoke about it years after she was assaulted. There are many reasons for that, some women fear for their careers or their relationships, some feel shame, some think nobody will believe their story.
The truth is I have never met one woman in this world who hasn’t at least been harassed. So I decided to ask my work colleagues if they have ever suffered any form of sexual abuse. I got several hands up in the first couple of minutes. When asked to share the story, some of them did not want to relive the painful memories. Another shocking thing is that it can come from family, from people we trust with our eyes closed. Here are their stories:
Eva Petrova*, marketing student, shared her oldest memory of someone not respecting her boundaries when she was only 14. “The first party I went to was in this country club and there was this guy, really cute, but he was definitely much older than me. He started saying I was really pretty, and he wanted to kiss me, but I didn’t feel comfortable kissing him in front of everybody. So, he took me to this secluded place, and we started kissing and then suddenly he put my hand on his male parts”.
“I was 14 years old and I went to a concert with my two stepbrothers. There they gave me a lot of alcohol and weed – both were over 18. I got really drunk and high. On our way back home they stopped at a motel. I could barely talk, never mind walking. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, I can just remember a few scenes, but I felt pain and shame after it. Never talked to them about it, didn’t go to the police because it involved my family.” Said Maria Garcia*, biomedical scientist.
Julia De Luca*, biologist, said that “I was 15 when I went to a party at a friend’s house and got totally drunk. As I walked down the corridor towards the toilet I felt somebody pulling me into a room. When I saw who it was, it was my friend’s older brother, who was engaged at the time. I didn’t really understand what was going on when he started taking off my clothes, it was the first time I was naked in front of a man for sure. Luckily my friends were looking for me, screaming my name. I managed to leave the room”.
“When I was an intern in a chemical company my boss started to get a little handsy, like lowering his hand on my back, most of the times I tried to get away, but it wasn’t always possible. One day he said he needed to show me how to do a process in a machine, he told me to just sit in front of the equipment that he would be by my side. While showing me the process he put his hand on my leg.” shared Adalie Baffier*, pharmacist.
These are only a few stories, but it illustrates the importance of discussing consent. None of these women consented to those acts or were in conditions to consent to anything. But their lives have been marked forever with the trauma of being violated and taken advantage of.
If you or somebody you know has been affected by any of these issues, please contact the Dublin Rape Crisis helpline 1800 77 8888
*The victims’ names were changed to preserve their identity