Woman raped by her brother reveals parents urged her to protect him

A woman who was repeatedly raped by her older brother for two years has claimed her parents tried to ‘get in her ear’ to convince her not to report him.

Aoife Farrelly, from Co. Meath, Ireland but now living in Aberdeen, was sexually abused by her then 15-year-old brother from when she was six years old.

Last month the 21-year-old waived her anonymity after her brother Cian Farrelly, now 30, was sentenced to four-and-a half-years (with 18 months suspended) in prison to tell her story to TV crews outside Central Criminal Court in Dublin.

Now she has opened up in more detail about her ordeal, revealing the moment she first told her parents about her brother’s abuse when she was eight-years-old, and finally reporting him to the police in 2020.

Speaking on The Women’s Podcast for The Irish Times, Aoife claimed her parents tried to dissuade her from going to the police after she told them her plans.

Courageous Aoife Farrelly, 21, from Co. Meath, Ireland, spoke out about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her older brother Cian when she was a child left in his care

She also revealed she no longer has any contact with her mother and father, but does not hold any ill feeling towards them. 

Aoife said that before the abuse started she had a happy childhood, but after her brother started attacking her aged six, she began to detatch from the family, and from reality. 

‘It was hard to know what was reality and what was in my head any more. It was an awful lot to deal with as a six-year-old,’ she said.  

Aged eight, Aoife told her mother about Cian’s abuse, and while it stopped and ‘life went back to normal for everyone else’ the student’s mental health suffered while she kept the secret from everyone else in her life.

Claiming Cian had ‘ripped the guts out’ of her childhood and teenage years, Aoife explained she battled an eating disorder, self harmed and suffered from panic attacks due to living with PTSD while living in the same house as Cian until she was 20 years old.

She said: ‘No room in that house was safe.’ 

But after meeting a new psychotherapist in March 2020, Aoife said a ‘light bulb went off’ in her head and she finally decided to report him.

The following month, Aoife told her parents what she was doing – and she claims they tried to change her mind.

Aoife told podcast host Rósín Ingle: ‘They wanted me to weigh up my options.’

She added her parents had argued ‘he is your brother at the end of the day’ and asked her ‘do you know what’s going to happen to him when he goes to prison’?  

Despite claiming her parents tried to ‘get in her ear’ about reporting Cian, Aoife praised them for giving evidence against her abuser in court.

During the interview, Aoife also recalled the moment she first told her mother about Cian’s abuse when she was just eight-years-old.

‘I was brushing my teeth and I started crying. I said, “Mum I need to speak to you”,’ she recalled.

‘It took me at least an hour to two hours to get it out, just choking on my words.’

When Aoife finally managed to explain, her mother went downstairs and immediately told her father. Together, they confronted Cian.

‘Being the coward he is he ran straight out of the house and said he was going to kill himself,’ she said.

However, shortly afterwards Cian came back into the house and admitted ‘the lesser of what he was doing’ to his parents.

After that, Aoife was never left in her older brother’s care, but she said the family never spoke of the abuse again.

Speaking outside of the Central Criminal Court in Dublin last month Aoife said she didn’t blame her parents for not reporting Cian to the police there and then.

She explained to Ingle that she wasn’t sure her parents were ever aware of the full extent of the abuse.

‘I think they did the best with what they had,’ she said, explaining her eight-year-old self didn’t know how to articulate the horrors Cian had inflicted upon her.

When Ingle asked if Aoife’s parents had changed their position on their son after hearing the full details of what he had done, the 21-year-old replied: ‘I wouldn’t know.’ 

She added she has ‘refused to speak to them’ since the trial, claiming she believes they are still trying to support Cian.

Aoife said: ‘Right now they are trying to support the two of us and I don’t want anyone on the fence.’

Sentencing Cian last month Justice McDermott said he was unable to sentence the abuser as an adult, with a guideline of 10-15 years, because he was underage when he committed the offences.

The judge pointed to the element of violence in the attacks, which left a young Aoife ‘helpless, isolated and alone’.

The court heard horrifying details of the abuse Cian had inflicted upon his sister, including how Farrelly would put his hand over Aoife’s mouth to stifle her screams as he raped her and told her the abuse was ‘our secret’. 

Although Aoife does not currently have a relationship with their parents, she told the podcast: ‘They really did the best that they could. I wasn’t allowed in his care after I spoke to them the first time.’

She added: ‘Maybe they didn’t understand completely what I was trying to say.’

Aoife said that she would be open to having a relationship with her parents again in the future.  

Now living in Scotland and working in a dog-friendly café, Aoife still has contact with her older sister, who is the middle sibling of the three and also lives in Aberdeen.

The 21-year-old said: ‘She’s trying to support me as best as she can… So far, so good.’

If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault and you need support, you can call the Rape Crisis helpline on 0808 802 9999  

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