Woman raped by her brother reveals parents urged her to protect him
A woman who has been repeatedly raped by her older brother for two years claims her parents tried to “get in her ear” to convince her not to report him.
Aoife Farrelly, from County Meath, Ireland, but now living in Aberdeen, was sexually assaulted by her then 15-year-old brother from the age of six.
Last month, the 21-year-old waived her anonymity after her brother Cian Farrelly, now 30, was sentenced to four and a half years (18 months probation) to tell her story to TV crews outside Dublin’s Central Criminal Court.
Now she has gone into more detail about her ordeal, revealing the moment she first told her parents about her brother’s abuse when she was eight, eventually reporting him to the police in 2020.
Talk about The Women’s Podcast for The Irish Times, Aoife claimed her parents tried to stop her from going to the police after she told them her plans.
Brave Aoife Farrelly, 21, from Co. Meath, Ireland, spoke about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her older brother Cian when she was placed in his care as a child
She also revealed that she is no longer in touch with her mother and father, but that she does not have any bad feelings towards them.
Aoife said that before the abuse started, she had a happy childhood, but after her brother started attacking her at the age of six, she began to disconnect from the family and reality.
“It was hard to know what the reality was and what was in my head. It was an awful lot to deal with as a six-year-old,” she said.
When she was eight, Aoife told her mother about Cian’s abuse, and while it stopped and “life returned to normal for everyone else,” the student’s mental health suffered as she kept the secret from everyone else in her life.
Aoife claimed that Cian “took the guts out of her childhood and teenage years,” Aoife explained that she struggled with an eating disorder, injured herself and suffered from panic attacks as a result of living with PTSD while living in the same house as Cian until she was 20 years old.
She said, “Not a single 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 make her change her mind.
Aoife told podcast host Rósín Ingle, “They wanted me to weigh my options.”
She added that her parents had claimed that “he is your brother after all” and asked her “do you know what will happen to him if he goes to jail”?
Despite claiming that her parents tried to “get in her ear” about reporting Cian, Aoife praised them for testifying 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 only eight years old.
“I was brushing my teeth and started crying. I said, “Mom, I need to talk to you,” she recalls.
“It took me at least an hour to two hours to get it out. I just choked on my words.”
When Aoife was finally able to explain, her mother went downstairs and immediately told her father. Together they confronted Cian.
“Because he is the coward that he is, he ran straight out of the house and said he was going to kill himself,” she said.
Shortly after, however, Cian re-entered the house and admitted to his parents “the least he did.”
After that, Aoife was never left in the care of her older brother, but she said the family never spoke of the abuse again.
Speaking outside Dublin’s Central Criminal Court last month, Aoife said she didn’t blame her parents for not occasionally reporting Cian to the police.
She explained to Ingle that she wasn’t sure if 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 that her eight-year-old self didn’t know how to articulate the horrors Cian had inflicted on her.
When Ingle asked if Aoife’s parents had changed their stance on their son after hearing the full details of what he had done, the 21-year-old replied, “I wouldn’t know.”
She added that she has “refused to talk to them” since the trial and claims she believes they are still trying to support Cian.
Aoife said, “Right now they’re trying to support the two of us and I don’t want anyone on the fence.”
Sentencing Cian last month Justice McDermott said he could not sentence the perpetrator as an adult, with a guideline of 10-15 years, because he was a minor 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 about the abuse Cian had done to 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 is not currently in a relationship with their parents, she told the podcast, “They really tried their best. I wasn’t allowed to be under his care after I spoke to them the first time.’
She added, “Maybe they didn’t quite understand what I was trying to say.”
Aoife said she would be open to a relationship with her parents again in the future.
Aoife now lives in Scotland and works in a dog friendly cafe. She is still in touch with her older sister, the middle of the three, and also lives in Aberdeen.
The 21-year-old said: “She’s trying to support me the best she can… So far, so good.”
If you have been the victim of rape or assault and you need help, you can call the Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999