Reporting rape or sexual assault to the police
If someone has been sexually violent or abusive to you, report their crime to the police as soon as possible. The police have specialist officers who see victims of sexual assault. They understand the distress and fear you might feel.
How the police deal with victims of sex crimes
The police might ask you to give them the clothing you wore when you were attacked. This clothing might have evidence that could identify the person who attacked you.
The police will arrange a medical examination for you. Before the doctor examines you, they’ll explain what they’re going to do and why they need to examine you. If you’re injured, the doctor might treat you or refer you for specialist medical treatment. The doctor can also collect any evidence that could help the police investigate the crime.
Investigating a sex crime
The police might need to talk to you again as they investigate the crime. They’ll tell you if they arrest or charge someone during their investigation.
The Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
The Rowan is the regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Northern Ireland. They provide professional support services to people who’ve been raped, sexually abused or sexually assaulted recently or in the past. They support:
- young people
- adult men
- adult women
They’re available 24 hours a day all year.
Getting help and support from The Rowan
If you’ve experienced sexual violence or abuse:
- the police can arrange for you to visit The Rowan to get help and support
- you can self-refer and contact the Rowan without asking the police
- you can ask a friend, family member, counsellor or support work to contact the Rowan on your behalf
- Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre
Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline
The helpline is open to women and men affected by sexual violence and abuse. This free telephone service is available 24 hours a day all year.
Being safe after sexual violence or abuse
If you were raped or sexually abused you might feel afraid whether or not you reported the crime. You might also be concerned because the police haven’t caught the attacker. You might want to live somewhere else for a short or long time if the attacker:
- knows where you live
- is a family member
- is a neighbour
You might be entitled to emergency and permanent housing if:
- you don’t have anywhere else safe to live
- you or your children are at risk from your partner, ex-partner or someone else in your home
- you or your children are at risk from someone in your neighbourhood
To find out about housing, contact the Housing Executive:
Health concerns after sexual violence or abuse
If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or violence, you might be at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection or becoming pregnant.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
As STIs don’t always have symptoms, you might not know you’re infected.
If you want tested for STIs, you can:
- ask your GP
- go to the Rowan
- go to a GUM clinic
It's possible to become pregnant after one incident of sexual violence. But becoming pregnant can depend on:
- your age
- whether you usually use certain types of contraception
- whether the attacker used a condom
If you’re concerned about pregnancy, you can ask for advice about emergency contraception up to 72 hours after the attack.
You can get free emergency contraception from:
- your GP
- out of hours service
- a doctor in The Rowan
- a hospital A & E department
- a GUM clinic
- a family planning clinic
You can also buy emergency contraception in pharmacists.
Getting a court order against an abuser
If you’ve experienced domestic abuse or violence from a family member or partner, you can apply for a court order. A court can make an order that:
- protects you from the abuser’s behaviour
- removes the abuser from the family home
If the abuser breaks the court order, the police can arrest them.
To read more, go to: