What do the Belfast Rape trial, Rory Mc IIroy, Lidl store demolition have in common?

Are the Belfast Rape trial,Rory Mc Illroy, Tallaght Lidl store demolition connected? They don’t seem connected do they?  But they are. The thing they all have in common  is alcohol.

The Lidl store destruction & Belfast Rape trial involved people who drank too much alcohol. Rory Mc Ilroy complained about people who drank alcohol disrupting golf play and wants alcohol sales limited.   So alcohol harm connects all three. There’s been plenty of coverage of these incidents.  Little coverage though of how alcohol was involved. We seem to accept that  heavy drinking and alcohol harm are both normal and acceptable.


Alcohol and sexual assault are common.

Over one in 5 women and one in ten men have experienced sexual assault according to the Rape Crisis Centre.

Alcohol is involved in many of these assaults. In one study over 76% of defendants in rape trials had consumed alcohol.

Alcohol Action Ireland report nearly 50% of people who murdered someone were drunk when they committed the murder.


Women blame themselves when assaulted

The research also shows that many women blame themselves when assaulted. A very common reaction for women is to simply freeze. We  don’t resist. We  don’t scream or fight. The majority of sexual perpetrators are known to women. We may have been chatted up,or we may have previously kissed the assaulter. This makes many women feel they are to blame for the assault. We feel we invited the assault.


Alcohol does not help

As we saw in the Belfast rape trial the young lady had been socialising and drinking with her friends. Because alcohol affects our brain, this can reduce our ability to make safe choices. But to be very clear,

We are never to blame when assaulted.


Belfast Rape trial

The defendants were found not guilty in this case. Apparently the young lady does not regret taking the case. The way our legal system works it is very difficult to get a conviction for rape. The use of alcohol is a factor in the   low rate of  conviction. One of the reasons so many people don’t report rape.  This young lady is incredibly brave and her actions might just be the first step in a movement towards changing how our legal system treats people.


Don’t blame yourself if assaulted

If you’ve ever been assaulted please, please don’t blame yourself.  If you were very drunk and unconscious during the assault, you are still not to blame. After all, if you were unconscious and someone tried to pour a cup of tea into your mouth, you would n’t blame yourself. You’d say the other person was an eejit and totally at fault.


Cup of tea anyone?

The cup of tea example is drawn from a really great video, explaining consent. Watch it and you’ll really understand how  talking about “women looking for it, or being to blame”  is vile and horrible.

This video should be required watching for all people who are old enough to have sex.


After an assault

After an assault, many people may use alcohol to block out the horrible feelings of self blaming, guilt, shame around the assault. Then alcohol becomes the  problem. Some people then look for help. Unfortunately the help offered is all about treating the alcohol harm. The real problem – the trauma from the assault is not addressed. Very few treatment systems are “trauma informed”. Trauma informed treatment means instead of asking

“What happened you?”

Too many Health Care professionals ask

“Ask what’s wrong with you?”

These types of question strengthen the belief that the person is the problem, not what happened to them.


Is this you?

If you’re in this position, don’t despair. Now that you’re informed, you can take action. Get support for both the assault(s) and alcohol harm

Click here to find out more about supports for sexual assaults.

Click here to find out more about support for alcohol harm treatments.


Want to change things?

So many people are disgusted by the comments made by the players. Over 55,000 people have signed a petition asking the IRFU to review the behaviours of the players involved. You can sign it here.

And when you’re signing, why not add a comment asking why the IRFU are still accepting sponsorship from an alcohol company?

Finally if you think our alcohol culture needs to change, you can support the Public Health  alcohol bill here.