As part of the research for my latest novel,” Can You See Me?”, I worked with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre who opened my eyes to the terrifying realities surrounding sexual violence against women in Ireland. The statistics speak for themselves, but these are not just numbers – every individual case concerns one innocent woman and the tragic tale of how her world was torn apart. My book deals with a nineteen year-old girl and a drunken night out which ends in her being raped by a ‘friend’. And indeed, as we see here, the overwhelming majority of rapes are carried out by someone the victim knows – these aren’t strangers lurking in alleyways, these are familiar faces; faces which will haunt them forever.
But beyond illuminating these dark truths, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre shed much light on the journeys these women go through – physical, emotional, legal, spiritual – their worlds are altered, but hope is never lost. The strength of the victims themselves, together with the support offered by friends, family, and organizations such as the DRCC took my breath away, and encouraged me to make my novel ultimately, one of hope – a tale of struggle, which yet proves that lives can be rebuilt, and happiness regained.
I believe this is not a fiction – the hope really exists – strength really will prevail.