It's ok. You're in the right place
We know it takes courage to talk about it, but we're here to help
There are 3 things you can do now:
The Rowan is the regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre for Northern Ireland. They are a professional, highly-trained team available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Anyone can call—sexually assaulted, children, young people, women and men who have been It doesn’t matter if it happened recently or in the past. The Rowan will listen, take you seriously, and offer you support.
Calling them could be the most important and worthwhile step you ever take.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to investigating sexual assault and rape. They understand how difficult it can be to report, and will treat you with respect, and give you understanding every step of the way.
Call the emergency services if you are in danger now.
What happens when you report?
Reporting sexual assault and abuse is important. It helps the police find the perpetrator and stop them from doing the same thing to you again, or to someone else. But reporting isn’t easy.
You will likely be confused, anxious and distressed in the minutes and hours after a sexual assault. That’s normal, and you have every right to process your feelings at your own pace. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Even if you do not report to the police immediately, you should speak to someone you trust, or an expert trained in helping victims of sexual assault, such as the staff at The Rowan or Nexus. Speaking about what has happened can bring some peace of mind, and help you think through the things you should do.
If you report to the police, you will be asked to provide details. Take your time, try to recall as much as you can about the incident and describe it in detail. This will be difficult, but it is best to do it when things are fresh in your mind. An officer will take your initial report and guide you through the next steps in the process. An officer will be appointed to investigate.
Depending on the nature of the assault, you may be asked to undergo a medical examination at the Rowan Centre. You do not have to do this, but it is important for two reasons. Firstly, your health and wellbeing is top priority, and a doctor will be best placed to advise you on any aftercare that you may need. Secondly, you may have physical evidence on your body and a forensic examination can help to document it. Even if you do not plan to report the matter to the police immediately, it is important to have this evidence on record.
The medical examination sounds scary, and comes at a time when you are distressed. The staff at The Rowan know this. They will not put any pressure on you, but they will support you with sensitivity and patience. They will be there for you if you choose to proceed – that’s their mission.
You may, in due course, be called to give evidence in a criminal trial. This is also a scary idea. You may find it difficult to think or deal with the events or consequences after your assault. This is natural, and there are organisations to help you through this difficult process. If you are called to give evidence, you will be supported by Victim Support NI. The experts at these organisations are committed to making legal proceedings as easy as possible for survivors of sexual assault. They will take you through each step of the process with professionalism and understanding.
Reporting sexual assault and abuse is not easy, but it is important. When you report, you are helping to make yourself and others safer. You will be supported by committed people who are experts in this field. They will treat you with understanding and empathy, and they will never pressure you into doing something that you do not want to do.