Belfast rape trial: here’s my truth

The truth is ambiguous. Two people can look at the exact same situation and see it completely differently, process it completely differently.

So here’s my truth.

I believe that the truth lies much closer to the alleged rape victim’s version of events than that of the four men standing as defendants.

I believe that their utter lack of consideration for the woman involved, both during the incident and afterwards in their group chats is an attitude that is as horrifying as it is ubiquitous.

I believe that in our messy, greyscale world, rape cases will never be as black and white as we might want. I also believe that there was little else the alleged victim could have presented to bolster her case.

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I believe, in her version of events, that there is little more I would have done differently.

I believe that alcohol levels don’t alter the balance of innocence, or that the appearance of promiscuity reduces credibility. And I did believe that they would be found not guilty, not because I believe they’re utterly innocent in proceedings, but because I don’t know with absolute certainty that they committed rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure and perversion of the course of justice.

But I did hope that it would be given serious consideration. More than three hours and forty minutes – less than an hour per defendant.

I believe that the rapidity of this ruling will deter other rape victims from coming forward. Why would they? Unless you had a smoking gun – a witness who was present throughout (and saw the truth as you did), video evidence – why would you drag yourself, your family and friends, through that?

I believe we need to look at the world and accept how it should be, not just how it is. I am past being “thankful” that it “started a conversation”. I want real, tangible change.

So where do we go from here? Where do women go from here?

Days like today are so hard for women who have experienced rape and / or abuse. Please know support is available - Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 1800 77 8888 - Women's Aid 1800 341 900. Please share widely.

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