Rape survivors invited to official launch of group in Limerick

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Survivors Support Anonomous founder Leona O'Callaghan who is one of the exhibition organisers. Photo: Liam Burke

AN EXHIBITION featuring the clothes worn by women when they were attacked and raped may still come to Limerick.

The ‘Not Consent’ exhibition has been deferred but Limerick rape survivor Leona O’Callaghan, the founder of the ‘Survivor Support Anonymous’ group, will still launch her support group as planned.

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She has joined forces with Ruth Maxwell and Shaneda Daly to mount the exhibition in Limerick which displays the actual clothing of rape victims that was worn at the time of their attack. It may still come here at a later date

“It attempts to emphasise the insignificance of clothing during rape trials. Our message is Clothes do not cause rape, rapists cause rape, victim blaming is not okay,” Leona told the Limerick Post.

“When I got dressed this morning, I questioned if the coat I was bringing was warm enough. I asked myself if the shoes I chose were comfortable enough, if I needed to walk far. I was wondering if my cardigan clashed a bit with my jumpsuit and I looked too maroon.

“What I didn’t do is ask if my underwear would get me raped today. Are we now living in a time where I need to?” she asked.

Ms O’Callaghan recently saw the man who had repeatedly raped and abused her sentenced in court for his crimes.

Patrick O’Dea, also known as “Whacker” of Pike Avenue, Limerick, pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court to charges of sexual assault and rape on dates in 1994 and 1995.

Her experiences fuelled Ms O’Callaghan’s desire to offer support to other victims and she formed Survivor Support Anonymous, the official launch of which will take place on the night.

SSA provides a safe place where those affected by abuse (sexual, physical and domestic) can learn to heal and recover from their trauma through the 12 steps of recovery. The group was founded by Leona and is also facilitated by Shaneda Daly, founder of Survivors Side by Side.

The support group will be launched at the Limerick Health Hub in Patrick Street from 1 to 8pm on Thursday, January 17 with speakers expected at 6pm.

Invited speakers include Ruth Coppinger, Debbie Cole, Priscilla and Ainee Grainger, Jessica Bowes and the organisers of the event amongst others.