Anne O'Donnell recalls becoming involved in the feminist movement and the establishment of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
Anne O'Donnell qualified as a teacher and taught in both Dublin and London. She became active in the feminist movement and went on to become one of the founders of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
Anne O'Donnell recalls her involvement with Irish Women United, initially as a passive observer before she became actively engaged. She first felt confident enough to speak out at a very packed meeting in Liberty Hall. Anne O'Donnell did not agree with an American feminist speaker who described Ireland as an "OK" place for women. She reluctantly and nervously made her way to the stage and made her point. This was a moment where she realised,
It doesn't matter what people think of you. If you have something to say, say it.
When Irish Women United wound down, Anne O'Donnell felt there was a need for action on issues affecting women. She and a group of women felt that there were two key issues that needed to be addressed. One was rape and the second was the portrayal of women in advertising and the media. They decided to focus on one issue and chose to address the issue of rape. They organised an informal meeting in a pub and from there eventually came The Rape Crisis Centre.
After being in operation for one year, Anne O'Donnell recalls the horror and the reality of some of the cases of abuse that they came across. She came to the realisation that many people were not safe in their own homes.
It really had a dreadful effect on me.
She would not be able to do the kind of work she does if she had a very negative attitude to men. A balanced attitude is needed to do the work effectively.
You would just be so angry all the time that you'd burn yourself up.
The Rape Crisis Centre also has more and more men presenting for counselling who were sexually abused or assaulted.
Men are vulnerable to it as well as women. Obviously it happens much less frequently to men.
Her work at the Rape Crisis Centre eventually took its toll and Anne O'Donnell had to seek counselling for herself.
I felt full of grief.
There was opposition to the work carried out at the Rape Crisis Centre. People, mainly from "ultra-right groups" opposed the fact that the centre began to receive state funding from 1980. Some of these people attempted to have the funding stopped or kept at a low level. Anne O'Donnell feels very bitter and let down by the state for the years of poor funding, which is key to the upkeep of the service offered.
What I see is a lot of politicians giving us an awful lot of verbal support... We feel that really people should put their money where their mouth is.
This episode of 'Hanly's People' was broadcast on 26 January 1987. The presenter is David Hanly.
'Hanly's People’ was a weekly programme featuring a guest in conversation with presenter David Hanly in a living-room setting for half an hour. Each guest was someone in the news, making the news, or behind the news. They were drawn from all spheres of public life, including politics and the arts. ‘Hanly’s People’ was first broadcast on 6 October 1986 and ended on 6 June 1991.