Irish Independent Opinion Editorial by Ellen O’Malley Dunlop – Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Growing up is a process and should never be an event!

Ellen O'Malley Dunlop

Ellen O’Malley Dunlop

What happened at Slane at the weekend is totally unacceptable and indicative of elements in our society that need to be exposed for what they are, abusive, degrading and cowardly in the extreme.

There are two very serious aspects to this situation that demand us as a society to reflect on very seriously:
1.  Why are drinks being spiked and used as a means of abusing another, usually a woman and usually sexually?

2. Why are people using social media to further degrade and humiliate the victim by re-tweeting and facilitating the images to go viral?

It is alleged that the young woman in the Slane incident had her drink spiked and that the pictures of lewd acts went viral on social media.

1. Far too often the spiking of drinks is not taken seriously enough and is more often than not, denied.  By the time the victim recovers their memory and remembers what has happened to them, the substance that was used to render them  incapable of consenting to engaging in, usually sexual acts, has left their system. But what has not left their system is the trauma of the crime that has been perpetrated against their whole being, physically, emotionally, sexually and psychically. They will need help and support to recover and it will take time.

We are witnessing the dehumanising and the objectification of women in particular, and of some men, by perpetrators who rather than, engage in relating to an other, treat them as objects. Not only are they treating their victims as objects but they are demonstrating, by the very acts that they have committed, that they themselves have been dehumanised and devoid of any feeling or empathy.

2. And then to compound the violence, the pictures or/and the videos, are  put up on social media sites by others, who continue the cycle of violence in a  mob type fashion without thought or any sense of understanding of the consequences to the victim.

I am sure that many of those who retweet and who resend pictures and videos of this nature do not think of the damage they are doing to others as a consequence but that is not a defence and it is not good enough.

We all have a responsibility to work towards preventing the escalation of these crimes in our society. Parents and responsible adults need to be aware of what children are viewing on line and need to talk to children about relationships and what is and isn’t acceptable. Programmes in schools need to have built into them opportunities for young people to discuss scenarios of this nature. They need to be made aware of the negative affects of watching pornography which desensitises them  and can have the most dreadful  negative affects on their ability to engage in normal age related sexual exploration and relationships.

Growing up can be forced upon young people today in a most violent manner. It doesn’t have to be like this. It behooves of all of us to find ways of recovering,  for our teenagers and young people, the process of growing up, whereby we support and mentor them to navigate the transitional stages from child to teenager to young adult, rather than having them blasted into adulthood, by inappropriate acts of violence, before they are ready.

The National 24 hour helpline for victims of sexual violence is 1 800 77 88 88.

Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, CEO,
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

 

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