Belfast Telegraph

‘Rape is all about power - they rely on your silence’

by Cate McCurry

The young woman at the centre of a rape trial involving two Ulster rugby stars was initially reluctant to talk to the police - but changed her mind because "rape is a game of power and control and they rely on your silence".

Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and 24-year old Stuart Olding, from Ardenlee Street in the city, are accused of raping the woman in the early hours of June 28, 2016. Both men strenuously deny the charges.

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The student, who was 19 at the time, said she had feared that the PSNI would not believe her at first.

"The more I thought about it, rape is a game of power and control," she told Belfast Crown Court.

"They rely on your silence.

"The only way you take the power back is when you actually do something about it. Going to the police was doing something about it.

"I may be preventing it happening to someone else. It could so easily have been my friends outside (the nightclub). It's the best decision I have made. People just can't think they can get on like that and nothing will happen. I'm not going to stand for it."

Her father had also suffered a serious heart attack, the court heard.

"I wasn't going to go to the police," she said.

"You just don't think they are going to believe you.

"I really did not want to take things further because you are so embarrassed this has even happened to you.

"I didn't want people finding out. I knew if I went to the police I would have to say something to my family at some point.

"I was told there was internal damage and I thought 'that's not okay'.

"No one should have to go through what I went through."

In her first day of giving evidence, she described how she felt embarrassed and that she didn't want people finding out.

Wearing a light blue shirt and black trousers, the woman wiped away tears as she told the court the reason she had decided to report the alleged attack.

She said that hours after the sexual assaults, she contacted two close friends.

"I was trying to remain rational about everything.

"I knew I needed to get checked out.

"I was going to get the morning after pill as I was not sure if a condom had been used," she said.

A friend took her to the Rape Crisis Centre where she spoke to a counsellor and a doctor.

The woman was later examined at the Rowan Centre, a sexual assault referral centre, where forensics examples were taken.

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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