97 referrals to sex assault unit in its first year

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Some 97 females from the Northern Trust area have attended The Rowan sexual assault referral centre during its first year of operation.

Managed by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, The Rowan is the only regional sexual assault referral centre in Northern Irerland.

It provides a one-stop location for victims who have experienced sexual assault, whether recently or in the past.

Some 86 percent of the total attendees to The Rowan in its first year have been women. Sexual abuse and sexual violence affects people across the age range and The Rowan has offered support and services to females from infants up to older females in their nineties.

Of the total 446 females who attended The Rowan, 173 were children and young people (under 18 years of age).

The age range of females most frequently engaging with the service has been 18-25 year olds.

The centre also provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated package of care to promote recovery and wellbeing, with follow-up support and a 24 -hour advice and information line.

All children and young people are offered review appointments with consultant paediatricians and 86 percent of girls attended these appointments.

There has also been a very high level of engagement with those women over the age of 16 with 74 percent attending appointments offered to them.

The Rowan can also support service users in making a report to the police, either at the time of the assault or at a later date. The centre will work in collaboration with officers at the initial stages of the investigation, ensuring the victims’ needs are comprehensively assessed and met.

Karen Douglas, service manager for the centre, said: “Moving into our second year we want to ensure that everyone affected by sexual violence knows The Rowan is here to help.

“By working together and keeping victims at the heart of the service, we can ensure they receive the best care possible and whatever support they may require to rebuild their lives.”

The Rowan provides services for all victims, including men, regardless of age, ethnicity, ability or sexual orientation.

Further information on the centre’s services can be found on at www.therowan.net.