A teenage girl has become the latest victim of sexual assault and rape in Cork after a 14-year-old boy allegedly attacked her in a chatroom.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, a member of the Cork Rape Crisis Centre said the victim had been “traumatised” by her experience, but the organisation has also been flooded with calls from the public.
Ms Fitzgerald said the teen’s attackers have been known to her for a number of years.
“There is a lot of confusion about what constitutes rape in the legal sense, and the girls face the same sort of challenges,” she said.
“They have to contend with the legal system, with the courts, with social stigma.”
It’s not something they are used to.
“For them, they don’t have the time or the patience to deal with it.”
She added: “When you see that sort of thing in a community, you start to think, ‘I don’t want to be part of that.'”
I think the stigma of being a rape victim is huge, and we have got to get it out of the minds of young people.
“Ms Fitzgerald, who works in the health and safety of young children, said she has also heard from a number people who have reported having been sexually assaulted by the same people.”
I’ve had people call me from the community saying, ‘Oh, I’ve been raped by the guy in the chatroom,'” she said, adding that she had also received messages of support from other members of the community.”
The girls in the community are just so vulnerable, and it’s such a shame.
“The girl is believed to have spoken to the victim, who is in her 20s, over the past three months, and had been experiencing some “difficult times”.
Ms Fitzgerald believes the young woman is at risk of becoming another victim of the gang rape epidemic in Cork.”
She’s been traumatised and she’s in a vulnerable place, and I don’t know if she’s ever going to come out of that place and have a normal life,” she explained.”
When you have young people who are in a situation where they have a sexual predator at their door, I think that’s really scary.
“If they’re in a position where they’re going to feel unsafe or they’re feeling vulnerable, then they’re very vulnerable.”
She said the group was working with the Cork Regional Sexual Assault Centre to “make sure that the victim’s support system is there” and “that there is a safe place to turn for help”.
“We want them to have access to support so they don to have to go through a process where they go through counselling or we will make sure that they can get in touch with us,” she added.
“We’re hoping that the girls will find that support and that they’re not going to have the situation where this happens to them again.”