Campaign aims to help survivors of sexual abuse

ANU conference will hear from victims including Fiona Doyle and Kavanagh sisters

Abuse victims Pictured at the launch of the ANU campaign to raise awearness of sex abuse in Ireland at the Candem Hotel today. From left are the Kavanagh sisters Joyce, June and Paula, Cynthia Owen and Fiona Doyle. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Abuse victims Pictured at the launch of the ANU campaign to raise awearness of sex abuse in Ireland at the Candem Hotel today. From left are the Kavanagh sisters Joyce, June and Paula, Cynthia Owen and Fiona Doyle. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 20:21

A new campaign is hoping to make it easier for survivors of sexual abuse to tell their story, while restructuring how the justice system deals with them.

The ANU Campaign begins tomorrow with a conference where abuse survivors Fiona Doyle, Cynthia Owen and Joyce, June and Paula Kavanagh will speak.

More than 100 people are expected to attend the public conference, which will begin at 9am in the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin. Co-founder of the ANU Campaign Sarah Franklyn said it took four weeks to organise the conference and that there is a thirst for change when it comes to the way survivors of sexual abuse find justice.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to act. The ANU Campaign was created to ensure that the children of the future will have a voice and that there will be a just system in place to curtail sex abuse. The family environment should be a safe place for a child,” she said.

Ms Doyle, who was sexually abused by her father for almost a decade, said she hopes things become easier for those who were abused.

"Even though our cases came to light at different times, we all went through the same experiences. We've had closed doors in our faces. We've had massive explosions in our families. We have all experienced siblings turning on us. We've all experienced sibling suicide. We are adamant that we do our best and that we stand up and make sure that the next abuse victim that wants to come forward, that it will be a lot easier," she said.

"We are not just coming forward now. We have been talking about this for the last 20 years, it's just no one was listening."

Ms Owen, who has told of how she was abused in what became known as the 'Dalkey House of Horrors' case, said that anyone who tries to press charges against their abuser at present will face the same challenges she did.

"When those children become adults they're going to get the same system. They're going to be treated the way I was. They're not going to be listened to and they're probably going to have a 19-year battle like I had,” she said.

Other speakers include Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Ms Doyle's daughter Kristel O'Brien.