Helping an abuse survivor to heal can be hard – but it’s not impossible



A single ‘phone call alerting me to the death of a deeply-despised person changed the direction of this week’s column. Therefore, in my attempt to show solidarity with fellow abuse survivors, (both male and female) who’ve experienced a life-altering encounter, my content will be of an adult nature.

  The well-meant, yet hesitant, “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but X is dead,” was intended to bring me solace. Lift a weight off my shoulders. You see, X’s demise, I’ve since learned, was some months in the making, and occurred thanks to him drinking himself to death. Dipsomania was a behaviour X had engaged in prior to him savagely raping me, and of course, he continued to abuse alcohol long afterwards. It would appear, fellow survivors, that causing damage and destruction was a big part of this freak’s depraved nature. Indeed, his ‘alcoholism’ and ‘depression’ were ‘medical conditions’ and excuses used by his, (and by a certain member of my own) family, as the perfect justification to condone his disgusting act. And, because my grief surrounding what he did to me remains somewhat unresolved, news of his death brought me no solace and sadly, no closure. 

  Those who’ve experienced sexual abuse will likely tell you that the crematorium, (I’m told they cremated him), and the death of a much-despised one, is not, as I’ve come to discover, the place to bury the hurt hatchet. And, while it’s difficult for loved ones to offer consolation to survivors under these circumstances, I implore you, to please, do not place this monster’s death centre stage, and instead, ask how the news makes them feel…ask what trauma it has likely triggered; be present with them and do not fob them off with “look, he’s gone, forget about him,” because to do that only forces your loved one to try to heal in isolation and in shame. We deserve better from you! We deserve and we need your support to help us try to erase our pain, and hopefully, find our peace.

  You see, despite my certainty that X is now lifeless – and I knew, as I received the call, his shell of a drink-ravaged body was physically lying on a cold mortuary slab in a Dublin hospital – the fact is, in that moment, both mentally, and within every nerve of my body, the act he’d forced upon me over a decade ago was still very real. Still tremendously tangible. And yes, while I do feel enormous relief that the world is now one sick pervert short – and while I’m over the physical aspects of what he did to me – the bottom line is, in the innermost crevices of my heart, I, like many other abuse survivors, am quietly carrying the huge burden of coming to terms with a situation where some ugly whack-job’s single, selfish act has caused me to lose so, so much. In my case I lost what I’d thought was a happy, solid, mutually loving and respectful (former) marriage, (he didn’t defend my honour), a beautiful home I’d worked my butt off to buy, and the life I once had.

  But hey survivors, we cannot change our past. And, this week, while I’ve come to the realisation that rehashing heart-wrenching memories of X’s attack will only serve to keep me mired in a hurricane of pain and grief, at least I can take comfort in knowing that, due to his death, his name will (hopefully) no longer be uttered at social gatherings. However, while it feels abnormal to humanise the demon that caused me so much hurt, learning about his death at such an advanced stage means I was robbed of the opportunity to have confronted him face to face. Robbed of my moment to look him in his blurry, alcohol-damaged eyes, and, before he lapsed into his coma, inform him that while he will be gone from this earth forever, my future, in which he will no longer be able to insert himself, will be mine…to live on, and to claim as my own. 

* For readers who have been affected by physical/emotional/sexual abuse, here is the national 24-Hour Helpline on 1800 77 8888 or by email at

TV licence fee payers deserve a refund, not an increase!

On a lighter note…apparently, according to Larry Bass, the (I’d imagine) highly-paid producer of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars, the show’s return is ‘in jeopardy unless the TV licence (fee) is increased’…from the current daylight robbery rate of €160. Now as far as I’m concerned, due to the inferior level of what in my opinion is third rate tripe currently being churned out by RTE, our national broadcaster should not only hang its head in shame, it should give us licence fee payers a refund, not an increase. 

  Look Larry love, while I enjoyed watching your series, (I do love an aul dance), the thing is, going to the RTE canteen and gathering Z listers, (sorry stars), some of whom have probably plummeted to rock-bottom on the entertainment value scale (in fact, a few had names that barely even registered with viewers) and then, with a neck bigger than a jockey’s privates, packaging them as ‘must see’ TV, before using the offering as a driftnet to lure us cash-strapped licence fee payers to generate and justify a bigger budget for yourself, is downright greedy.

  Okay, while I have a choice not to watch a broadcaster that appears to go the extra mile when showcasing a shed-load of inferior programmes, unfortunately, as it’s a legal requirement, I pay my licence fee with all of the enthusiasm of a woman with a gun aimed at her head! According to Mr. Bass, “If RTÉ isn’t correctly funded, it can’t run the schedules as it’s been running”. Really? Then great! No loss.

  I can do without paying for jolly holiday road trips for Daniel and his ‘dipstick,’ (no not Majella…his rod for measuring the level of oil in his camper van). Ya had to see the episode! And don’t get me started on the self-congratulatory bunch featured on Celebrity Globetrotters…whom, it must be said, under normal conditions, would barely register as Z listers, who were, bless them, taken ‘completely out of their comfort zones,’ (er, what was that now, tracksuits, hoodies and crocs?) in order to live it large on taxpayers’ money! Seriously RTE, I’ve been better entertained watching the in-flight safety video on a budget airline.