Detective Chief Inspector Siobhan Ennis said: “This week sees the launch of national sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week.

“Sexual violence and abuse can happen to anyone - it doesn’t matter what age, gender, race or sexuality you are.

“Contrary to what some people may believe this crime does not have to be committed by a stranger, it is often committed by someone the victim knows. In every case ‘it’s not ok’.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say to anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or violence, no matter how long ago it occurred, to come forward to police and report it. It is never too late to seek justice through the court system. No-one should be subjected to this type of violence. No-one has the right to force themselves on you or make you do something that you are not comfortable with.

“I understand the trauma and anxiety that victims go through and coming to speak to police can seem daunting, however you can bring a friend or family member and have them present whenever you talk to us.

Detective Chief Inspector Ennis continued: “We have specially trained officers who will treat you with respect and dignity at all times. Whilst it is our responsibility to investigate, your welfare will always come first. We will be with you every step of the way and we will guide you through the court process – you will not be alone.

There are also other agencies who are there to offer help and support. The Rowan Centre, Northern Ireland’s regional sexual assault referral centre (SARC) is a facility that offers a range of services and support to anyone who has experienced sexual assault, whether recently or in the past, through self-referral, third party referral or through our officers. The Rowan Centre works in partnership with the police but are independent of them.

“The experience of being a victim of any type of crime is a very difficult one. However, the Rowan Centre, will provide a complete and co-ordinated package of care to promote recovery and wellbeing and greatly enhance the investigative process.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ennis concluded: “If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or sexual violence please contact the police on 101, or in an emergency always call 999. The Rowan Centre can also be contacted 24/7, 365 days a year on 0800 389 4424.”

“For further details please visit the Sexual Violence and Abuse section on our website.”

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