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12th Sep 2017

I was raped… and there are still men who think I should just accept my fate

A powerful, first-person account that everyone should read.

Taryn de Vere

I’m a rape victim. I was raped by a man I trusted.

I turned up at his house late at night, drunk and in a short skirt, hoping to sleep on a spare bed or the lounge. He showed me a bed I could get into and I crashed out quickly. When I woke up he was raping me. I said “No,” I said, “Stop” but he didn’t listen.

I never reported the rape. The reason I didn’t was because I knew how society and the law viewed women in my situation. The thinking of men like George Hook is that on some level I have to accept some responsibility for a man inserting his penis into me without my permission.

I felt sure that the fact that I was drunk, alone and wearing a short skirt would all be used against me if I reported the rape. I didn’t just imagine this reaction, I knew it. I’d seen it over and over, from being a witness in a rape trial, from the media, from the conversations of the adults in my life: my choice of clothing, my choice to drink alcohol, and my choice to trust a friend would all be used as evidence against me. These things would outweigh the fact that a man decided to rape me.

I made the mistake of confiding in the wrong person. “What did you expect to happen?” this person said.

“I expected not to get raped by my friend,” I responded.

I knew that this response would be the same one that would be in the minds of the jurors, blame would somehow be put on me.

Last year, an EU poll of attitudes towards sex found that 21 percent of the Irish population thinks that sex without consent (in other words, rape), is acceptable under certain circumstances.

A fifth of the population is no small number. As a mother, the thought that 21 percent of my teenage daughter’s male friends might think like a rapist is terrifying to me. Much as George Hook would like parents like me to assume responsibility for teaching my daughter not to put herself in dangerous situations, I would like the parents of boys to teach them not to rape my daughter (or any other girls or women).

Trying to put the blame onto the parents of raped women is the epitome of rape culture. Where is the responsibility of the rapist in all of this? Why are men not held accountable for their actions? How is it that media commentators fight so hard to apportion blame elsewhere, anywhere as long as it doesn’t fall on the actual person who raped someone? That is rape culture.

Just about every women has been spoken about or treated like an object at some stage; women are underrepresented in positions of power; women are underrepresented in media (looking at you Newstalk), and according to the WHO, one third of the world’s women will experience sexual or physical violence in her lifetime.

The world is designed in such a way that rape has become so normalised that George Hook initially thought it was OK to make the comments he did.

“But when you then look deeper into the story you have to ask certain questions. Why does a girl who just meets a fella in a bar go back to a hotel room? She’s only just barely met him. She has no idea of his health conditions, she has no idea who he is, no idea what dangers he might pose.

“But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger? You then of course read that she passed out on the toilet and when she woke up the guy was trying to rape her. There is personal responsibility because it’s your daughter and my daughter.”

Hook and Newstalk have since apologised for his abhorrent remarks, however, worryingly there has also been a swell of support for Hook and his views on social media.

It’s possible those voices may be the 21 percent, the ones who think rape is OK. But what I know to be true is that these are the voices that stopped me reporting the rape that happened to me. The voices that caused me to sit alone in a sexual health clinic waiting to hear if I was pregnant, had an STD or HIV. The voices that stopped me telling people or getting support.

The man who raped me walks free today in Ireland. Maybe he has raped other people since. The reason he’s not behind bars is down to that part of our culture that discourages reporting, that victim blames and victim shames. And it’s down to people like George Hook.


The Rape Crisis Centre operates a 24 Hour Helpline on 1800 778888


George Hook,Rape