Marital rape victim describes ‘complete sense of powerlessness’

Woman said she had feared her ex-partner was going to murder her in front of her son

A Dublin woman who was beaten by her husband with a hammer has thanked a passerby who set his dog on the man and chased him off during the attack.

The 46-year-old woman said that before going unconscious in the attack she feared she was going to be murdered in front of her four-year-old son, after seeing the “absolute determination” of her husband to kill her.

She made the remarks during the sentence hearing of her husband, who was convicted last June at the Central Criminal Court of raping and threatening to kill her over a three-month period after refusing to accept their marriage was over.

The case was only the third conviction of rape within a marriage since marital rape was made illegal in 1990.


Victim impact statement

The woman said in her victim impact report: “All of the crimes both individually and collectively have had a devastating and long-lasting impact on me and [my son], who is six now.

“From the time our relationship was breaking down there was a slow build-up of threatening, controlling and abusive behaviour.

“From May 2014, the threat to cause me serious harm and to kill me combined with my every move being tracked made me absolutely terrified.

“Trying to keep life as normal as possible for [my son] and in the beginning not telling anyone what was going on, thinking I could find a way to solve the unsolvable, left me in a complete state of confusion and turmoil.”

The night of the May 25th, when she was raped and threatened with a knife would stay with her forever, she said.

“The complete terror I felt when he took out the knife. I knew there was nothing I could do to stop him.

“That is one of the hardest things to live with. The rape left me with a complete sense of powerlessness, like everything of me had been taken away from me.

“Being raped has affected every piece of me, it went to the core of myself. I felt so broken and for a long time angry with myself for what I saw as ‘letting it happen’,” she said.

“Deciding to make the statement on the rape was so difficult because it meant admitting to myself what had happened. It took me five months to report it to the guards and I couldn’t have done it on my own.”

The impact of the threats and the absolute determination of her husband to kill her would always stay with her, she said.

“His cold determination and focus was so clear on August 7th when he kept hitting me with the hammer, even when other people came. I remember trying to pull him away from my mam and seeing blood all down her face.

“My memory of being repeatedly hit on the ground with people all around me still leaves me with a feeling of terror.”

The immediate impact on her son after the hammer attack was that he had nightmares and he wanted to know where I was all the time, she said.

“How does a child grow up and cope with knowing his father harmed his mother so badly, to use a knife and hammer, to rape her,” she said.

“But this experience and these events don’t define me, the inner strength and courage that I found, which kept me alive during some of those horrendous events and sustained me up to and during this trial, gives me and [my son] a strong foundation for living very positive and happy lives.”

Letter of apology

During the sentence hearing, the man had his barrister read a letter of apology to the court for the hammer attack, but made no reference to the rape or other charges.

He said he had been “utterly reckless” and blamed the “alienation, humiliation and emasculation” he said he had suffered during the breakdown of their relationship.

Defence counsel Padraig Dwyer SC said his client was judged to be at a low risk of committing future violence and that he was ashamed of his actions.

Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, contested this, saying the accused had made phone calls from prison to his wife that showed he "does not have a positive attitude towards her".

The court heard the woman is terrified of her husband getting out of prison.

On Monday, the man was remanded in continuing custody until July 25th, when Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy will impose sentence.

In June at the Central Criminal Court, a jury of 11 men and one woman convicted him of raping his wife in their home in May 2014 and of threatening to cut her face.

He was also convicted of threatening to kill the woman over the phone.

He had already pleaded guilty to attempting to cause serious harm to the woman and of assaulting her mother on August 7th, 2014, during the hammer attack outside the mother's Dublin home.

The victim's ordeal began at the start of 2014 when she told her husband of nine years that she wanted a separation.

Ms Gearty said he took the proposed separation “very badly”.