Buncrana woman Karen Harkin says she is finally able to free herself from guilt after her father was sentenced for raping and sexually assaulting her.

Michael Carter (55) was jailed to 11 years with six months suspended for abuse which began when his daughter, Ms Harkin, was nine-years-old. He stopped one day short of her 13th birthday.

Karen waived her anonymity to help end the stigma that is associated with sexual abuse crimes.

Ms Harkin’s parents separated when she was around two or three years old. The court heard the abuse occurred when she was visiting her father’s rented house.

In her victim impact evidence, the 22-year-old said everything was great with her father until she was nine.

She said she did not know why things had changed then. Before that, she would spend time with him “farming, drawing, horse riding, watching TV”. She said he made her laugh and made her happy.

But when Ms Harkin was nine, her father started making her watch pornography on television, abused her regularly and on one occasion raped her.

In 2018, when Ms Harkin made a statement to gardaí, Michael Carter denied the allegation.

At the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin on Tuesday, Ms Justice O’Connor said that Ms Harkin was an “incredibly strong young woman”.

Speaking to media outside, Ms Harkin said: “Even though I get no satisfaction from my father going to prison today, I know that this is the justice that nine-year-old me deserves. This is what I have to do for me.”

While she will never get her childhood back, she said she hopes that my speaking out, she can help others.

“Please know that you are not alone, you will be believed, as long as you can trust in one family member, a friend, the gardaí, just know that you will be okay. I hope that speaking out will help end the stigma that is associated with these type of crimes today.”

For more, see https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2023/0725/1396467-karin-harkin-abuse/