herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

'There was no justice for me' - victim raped by ex-boyfriend

Crime

A teacher raped by her ex-boyfriend while she slept today said that Irish society doesn't take rape and sexual violence seriously enough, after the perpetrator walked free.

A court heard that Magnus Meyer Hustveit (25) repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted his ex-girlfriend in her sleep, while they were still in a relationship.

The victim - Niamh Nic Dhomhnaill (28), a former secondary school teacher from Dublin - decided to waive her right to anonymity.

She said the suspended sentence sent out "the wrong message" to victims of rape and sexual violence.

"I think it sends such a clear message to Irish society that rape and sexual violence is not being taken seriously enough," Niamh said.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the most significant features of the case were the deceit, the repetition of the offences, and the effect on the victim. But he suspended the seven-year sentence.

Hustveit, previously of Leo Street, North Circular Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to one count of rape, and one count of sexual assault, between 2011 and 2012.

Niamh said that this sentence sends a message to Irish society that rape and sexual violence is "not taken seriously".

She has now called on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to appeal.

"The judge kept mentioning seven years, so it seems he thought that length of sentence was worth considering, but then to disregard it and suspend it is so difficult. I can't get into the mindset of someone making a decision like that," Niamh told the Herald today.

"I've asked the DPP to appeal, but if that doesn't happen I will continue to speak out and seek change in the criminal justice system.

"In Ireland, it takes people who have been hurt to come out and seek change, when instead it should be the people in power and authority who have the power to affect change that should be doing that.

"I don't think there was any justice yesterday," she added.

CHEATED

The brave 28-year-old said that she felt cheated because her ex-boyfriend was able to continue with his life, while she was left "reeling".

"It's only fair that when you do wrong, that you bear consequences of some sort. This has had no impact on his life," Niamh said.

"He is in a very committed relationship. Apparently he has been in steady employment all the time. His employers know about his actions apparently...and they would hope to take him back... because he is so irreplaceable in his work."

She said it was difficult to see him in court, with his family and his new partner.

Niamh described Meyer Hustveit's actions as a "hurtful violation" and said her 11-month relationship with him was an abusive one.

"As for closure - you learn with time and the love of people close to you to accept what happened, but you are left a changed person," said Niamh.

The facts of the case emerged only when Hustveit wrote to Niamh after they broke up stating he had been using her "body for my gratification" for nearly a year.

She first met Hustveit in a bar in Dublin city centre in 2011. They began a relationship, and moved in together that year. But she had problems with the Norwegian's use of pornography.

In 2012, she woke up to find herself wet with what she believed to be semen.

She confronted Hustveit, who admitted he had had sex with her while she slept. She told him that it was a problem, but the relationship continued.

"I tried to get out. I tried to leave, but he would threaten suicide. That's how it would go," Niamh added.

Niamh said it was "horrendously difficult" to trust people again after what happened to her, but she now has a partner she feels genuinely cares for her.

"We were friends for a while first and he never knew what happened. I didn't want to tell him. But he has been so supportive, as have my family and friends," she said.

"I don't want this event to define me. I want to move forward and have a new life," she added.

Niamh urged victims to contact agencies for help.

"Rape Crisis Network, One in Four, Samaritans, whatever it is, don't stop until you feel support and love. Speak out against this. Get in touch," she said.

For support and information related to rape and sexual violence, call the Rape Crisis Centre's on 1800 77 88 88.

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