Mary Crilly, director of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, gave an empowering speech at the last WAVE Conference. We think that her words are of great importance, now more than ever! Women’s support services are doing an amazing job and being part of a strong, feminist network as WAVE can help us facing these difficult times in sisterhood and solidarity.
“My name is Mary Crilly, I’m with the Sexual Violence Centre (Cork) for the past 36 years. Why we joined WAVE? Because we felt very isolated: we live in Cork, which is in the south of Ireland. I didn’t know what’s happening in Europe. I didn’t have a clue about legislation, I really didn’t know. So we said “ok, we found something in Vienna, the WAVE conference”, and then we got really invited and an open and warm greeting from Maria and Rosa and everybody else and I think we’ve been coming every year.
I think the tough stage to make a focus was domestic violence, but we thought WAVE is very open for including sexual violence when we said “look, this is happening”. And why I come is for the friendship, is for the bond, is for the sharing of information, but mainly it’s to see all of the young people coming, I love seeing young people here! Of course you can learn from oldies and goldies, but it’s the young people who matter. And what matters to me is maybe going to other countries where we have the opportunity to talk about sexual violence, to help maybe start a rape crisis centre. Because in all my years, if I can do something before I retire, and last year I was ill myself, I got through it and people said to me “why don’t you stop now, why don’t you take it easy?” and for me feminism isn’t someting I do, it’s who I am.
What really does my head in is when a young girl get’s raped and we say it’s her fault. An older woman gets raped and we see how appalling it is whereas a younger woman get’s raped and all of the sudden “What did she do to get raped? What did SHE do to make it happen? How did she put herself in that situation?”. And that really makes me so angry and that really needs to be gone.
There are times, when we all despair. There are times when I see something about the biggest battle in the world and 6 years old girls in it and I despair. And sometimes I cry, and sometimes I think “am I making a dent? Is it making a difference? Will I stop? Because we can’t all despair.” And I think we can all despair and you can all despair and that’s ok, but the thing is we have to remember how fucking amazing we are, and we will keep going!“