‘Let me be clear you did not win’

LIMERICK abuse survivor and founder of Survivors Support Anonymous, Leona O’Callaghan is one of the people organising events, including a work walk-out for International Women’s Day.
Leona O'Callaghan. Pic: Cian Reinhardt

A Limerick woman who addressed her rapist in court has said he “forever messed with my mind” and his “warped version of love equals pain” stayed with her all her life.

Leona O’Callaghan (37) waived her right to anonymity so Patrick ‘Whacker’ O’Dea (51) of Pike Avenue, Limerick, could be named.


O’Dea pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and rape on dates in 1994 and 1995. He was sentenced to 18 and a half years in prison with the final 18 months suspended.

The court heard that following the first incident of rape, Ms O’Callaghan sat on a basin of ice in her bedroom to help stop the bleeding and swelling. O’Dea met with her a few days later and complained that she had gotten blood on his jacket and he had to get it dry cleaned.

Speaking of the first time he forced sex on her, Ms O’Callaghan said: “after using my small innocent body to satisfy your own needs you sent me home bleeding, sore, confused, ashamed, traumatised and sworn to secrecy”.

She described repeatedly attempting suicide and self -harming.

“You were there in my mind every time I took a blade to my body to hurt and cut myself hundreds of times to punish myself for the horrible person I became.”

“You were there in my mind on the three occasions I slit my wrists and took tablet after tablet to try to die and finally let all this be over. One of those times was in the graveyard where you raped me for the first time.

“I wanted all the pain to end where the pain began. My sister found me eight hours later overdosed with slit wrists still in that graveyard praying for God to just take me and take the pain I was in.

“You were there in my thoughts a year later when I jumped into the river as I tried to drown myself along with the memories you had embedded in my brain. I wrote you a letter that day just before I jumped to say you win and I give up.

“You isolated me from the people I loved and got inside my mind in a way I still don’t fully understand. You alienated me from my friends telling me that they were all saying nasty things about me when my back was turned.

“You were there in my mind when I thought saying no to anything sexual wasn’t even an option whether I wanted it or not. You were there between the sheets when my skin often crawled when my husband tried to touch me, be intimate or make love to me.

“I often wonder what kind of mother I would be and what kind of childhood my kids would have had if you had not raped, molested and manipulated me My kids would have had a better life if you hadn’t messed my mind up.

“If it wasn’t for you I would have been a better mum, a better wife, a better daughter, sister and friend. Instead, I am often the messed up broken person that you made me and there are still more days than not that I hate who I am.”

“The real me is warm and caring but you made me a fighter, you gave me anger and hatred and sadness and fear and isolation and shame and guilt and loneliness. Today I give this back as it belongs with you.

“It is only in the past two years that I have learned that ending the pain is possible without ending my life. That there is possibly a way of putting all this behind me. A way of handing you back the guilt, the shame, the secrets, the self-hatred and distrust that should never have been mine to carry.”

Ms O’Callaghan turned to O’Dea while reading the last few paragraphs of her victim impact statement.

“Whacker, I stand here today and reluctantly give you your last bit of power by admitting that yes you did manage to tear me down and impact my life more than any other person I’ve ever known.

“However I do not just stand here as a victim, I stand as a survivor who is strong, kind and trying their very best to begin a life you held back from me for many years. I have three amazing kids that I see every day.

“I’m proud that despite you I survived the childhood trauma at your hand. I got 515 points in my leaving cert, worked hard, set up my own businesses and I remain an honest, loving person with integrity.

“I’m becoming the mother my kids deserve to have and my future is looking brighter. So in a nutshell, despite standing here with my heart on my sleeve and admitting the affect you have had on me.

“Let me be clear, you did not win.”

by Sonya McLean
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