It’s Not Rape

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Content Advisory: Rape, Lies, Dolores Cahill

‘Do you know that if you restrict someone it’s actually rape, under the law?’ so shrieked Dolores Cahill when she was (lawfully) denied access to the count centre in the RDS last Friday (July 9th). (You can watch a video on the Irish Times’s website here.)

Cahill had stood for election in the Dublin Bay South by-election and claimed she wanted to ‘supervise the vote’. Now, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt there, and suggest that she meant to say that she wanted to supervise the count, which is a different thing entirely.

But Cahill gets no free-pass from me for her comment on rape. It was beyond abhorrent, and disgusted not just me, but many other rape survivors. Many ordinary, decent, people who realised how wrong she was were similarly aghast.

Telling a Garda who was doing his job (upholding the law) that he was raping her by not allowing her entry (in spite of her referring to it as her ‘entrance’ – clearly she’s no professor of English) is a detestable thing to do. Using the word ‘rape’ deliberately incorrectly does a number of things:

It means that those of us who have experienced rape have our experiences diminished immediately by the screeching Tipperary gorgon. Our life-changing, harmful, traumatic, ordeals have been trivialised by her. It’s disrespectful, at the very least.

As a woman, accusing a man of rape is not something done lightly, and screaming at a man who is doing no such thing cannot be easy for him to hear. Even though it’s clearly a baseless allegation, I would not be surprised if the Garda was quite shaken by her spurious claims.

The other big issue I have with this harridan slinging accusations of ‘rape’ at a man who is clearly not perpetrating any violence upon her person, is this: She is legitimising the claims of misogynists that ‘women cry rape all the time’. With this behaviour, Cahill is undoing the hard work that those of us tasked with challenging rape culture, and rape myths, have been doing for decades.

Dolores Cahill doesn’t care who she hurts, or harms, in her quest for power. She is a woman who holds – and spreads – many dangerous opinions, and outright lies. She needs to be challenged on all of them.

If you have been affected by sexual violence, help is available here:

If you are a parent who was sexually abused as a child, and would like some peer support, and help, to unpack how the abuse affects your parenting, help is available here: