When I saw the news my mind went blank, I felt like someone had punched me in the chest and the sickness travelled throughout my body. For a moment I was caught up in this hope that Ireland was changing, that people were learning and a new understanding was possible that we aren’t liars. We aren’t looking for attention or money or fame or to get one over on ‘one of the lads’.
I felt part of this movement changing the landscape of Ireland – a place where surely we’ll repeal the eighth amendment because times are changing, we trust women now. The Belfast trial felt part of that same movement to redefine a woman’s place in Ireland from one of suspicion to one of belief.
Shortly after seeing the outcome I received a text from a friend knowingly offering love and support in what is a moment with the potential to retraumatise a nation of silenced women. I was lucky I could tell someone – many people can’t. I shared my sickness with my friend and it eased the pain. She knew, she understood, she felt it too. Many people are silently feeling that sickness without the words to define why it feels so bad or the support to say “you are not alone”. I can’t help but be reminded that this is how many of those 12 women travelling for abortion services each day might feel too.
Every cloud has a silver lining – it’s one of those silly phrases that got me through my darkest hours dealing with the overwhelming emotional and physical impact of sexual violence. My silver lining of the cloud that is the Belfast Trial is a further hardening of my resolve to campaign to repeal the eighth amendment. I thought my resolve was stone like, now it’s steel.
Institutions in our society enshrine distrust of women – if we, the ones who have survived our darkest hours, coming out the other end with the privilege of being able to fight, do not fight for change then who will?
Repealing the Eighth Amendment will help us begin to heal after a long history of institutional and societal distrust of and violence against women. So let’s get our flights booked, canvassing shoes on or pick up the phone to that relative we haven’t quite gotten around to having a difficult conversation about choice with. Systems keep failing us so let’s start changing them on May 25th.
– Anonymous SIARC Member
#IBelieveHer #MeToo #Repealthe8th #TrustWomen
*We must remember sexual violence impacts people of all gender identities however I have referred to women in this post as a means to recognise the history of state sponsored gender based violence across the Island of Ireland.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog post, the following services are available to provide you with confidential support and information:
Rape Crisis Scotland: Phone free any day between 6pm and midnight on 08088 01 03 02 or if you are deaf or hard of hearing on minicom number 0141 353 3091.
Rape Crisis Ireland: 1800 77 8888
BPAS (British Pregnancy Advice Service): 03457 30 40 30