Miriam Duffy, Executive Director of Rape Crisis Midwest leaves a lasting legacy following her retirement. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick
Miriam Duffy leaves a long-lasting legacy at Rape Crisis Midwest which was celebrated as she steps into retirement
The outgoing Executive Director retired on Saturday, May 13, leaving behind a great legacy, Miriam Duffy thanked all of those who attended the event and wished the group the best of luck in its future.
Following 15 years with ADAPT, Miriam Duffy joined Rape Crisis Midwest in 2002, and during her time there Miriam acknowledged “everybody’s experience of rape and sexual abuse is different”, ensuring Rape Crisis Midwest was welcoming to people of all walks of life.
Reflecting on her achievements, Miriam told I Love Limerick, “Once I started to work with the Rape Crisis people, my Rape Crisis ‘family’ as I like to call them, the boards, the staff, the volunteers that are there and the clients I got to meet over the years, it had been a real privilege. It’s the type of organisation that if it’s for you, you commit 150 per cent, so it has been an incredible couple of years.”
Speaking about one of her “biggest achievements”, Miriam said, “I suppose one of the biggest ones would be the purchase of the actual premises that we’re in now. When I came in we were renting a place in Mallow Street, and with the support of the lovely JP McManus and family, we managed to purchase the house, we then at a later stage, the previous golf classic, we were supported in building on the extension to the back. There’s enough space there now to support the key work for the centre for the next 20 to 50 years.”
“We have also branched out into Nenagh and Ennis, again with JP’s support, we’re about to purchase the place we’re renting in Nenagh so we will be securely embedded in there,” Miriam added, saying it was hoped the purchase would have been complete before Christmas 2022, but some issues with the deeds delayed that, she said, “That in itself has brought about a lot of changes.”
Speaking about other changes over her tenure, Miriam has noted the rise in sexual abuse cases, saying it is “hard to quantify” if this is because more people are finding the courage to come forward, or if there are more cases of sexual abuse.
“There isn’t a doubt in my mind that with sexual abuse people are being supported to speak more about it, it is becoming more acknowledged that it is an issue and a problem but by the same token, there is also an escalation in what is actually happening, and the age sometimes that peer sexual violence is occurring.
Speaking of another “great achievement”, Miriam mentions the training and development aspect brought in by Rape Crisis Midwest:
“I remember back in 2006 we did a huge strategic plan, 2006 to 2011 it was, and one of the key things was that we needed the training and development post, I actually got that in place last year eventually. Partly to continue to train our own staff, volunteers, and counsellors but as well as that to have an input into development for training for external people, like frontline workers who might be in other services and might need to know how to support people making disclosures.
Speaking about the future, Miriam noted the importance of education being delivered in the correct manner.
“Another important aspect we see is the development that will be happening with the school curriculum, in sex education classes that the students will be getting, and our input into the content of that curriculum will be vital, Rape Crisis centres are small, so we can do a certain amount of work in schools, but we are never going to be able to go in and deliver it all. But one of the key things we can do is support the teachers who are doing it,” Miriam told I Love Limerick, highlighting the aim of the training and development post.
Miriam took the opportunity at her farewell party to thank all of those who came to celebrate with her noting the staff, board, and all of the group’s volunteers.
She said, “It has just been an incredible 21 years, and I just want to wish Rape Crisis Midwest all of the best. It’s just been an incredible evening so far, we were honoured with some of our past people.”
Although she was being honoured on the night, Miriam took the time to recognise those in attendance who help found the Limerick Rape Crisis Centre and wished the group and new director “all the best” for the future.
“Cathy and Martin Chapel, and Dorothy Morrisey are here, they are some of the founders of the Limerick Rape Crisis Centre, they’ve been involved through the 70s, 80s, and the 90s. I came in 2002 so there were one or two other people in between, but now we are wishing them all the best for then next twenty to thirty years under the direction of our new director, Karen O’Donnell-O’Connor,” Miriam told I Love Limerick.
Pictures: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick