Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Sex victim speaks out to back new PSNI anti-rape campaign

Paula Jack of the Youth Justice Agency, Debbie Watters of the NI Policing Board and Detective Superintendent Brian Hanna at the launch of the 'Without consent it's rape' video
Paula Jack of the Youth Justice Agency, Debbie Watters of the NI Policing Board and Detective Superintendent Brian Hanna at the launch of the 'Without consent it's rape' video

A rape victim has spoken out about her sex assault ordeal in an effort to encourage others to report their experiences to the police.

Co Down mother-of-two Jane told the Belfast Telegraph of the terrifying sex attack she was subjected to at the hands of an acquaintance.

Jane (not her real name) was raped at a mutual friend's party last year by a man she had met only three or four times.

"During the course of the night he was getting a bit too close for comfort, so I backed off and said no, no," Jane explained.

"Everybody had left and I had gone to bed. I woke up and he was on me and the assault took place."

The young mum was speaking publicly for the first time as she backed a new PSNI rape prevention campaign aimed at 16-to-25-year-olds.

The hard-hitting video campaign is pushing the message that 'Without consent it's rape'.

Jane explained she was frozen with fear during the attack, and afterwards she felt so horrible that she vomited.

She quickly told her friends what had happened before reporting the crime to the police. Her rapist is now in jail.

Jane said the PSNI and Witness Service have been excellent support and if her story made even "one person come forward" to report a sexual assault then she will be happy. "When you're getting up and going to court, and you really don't want to, and you're afraid and you think 'God, I'm the one being put on trial here', just stick with it, keep at it, see it through to the end, because it's worth it," Jane said.

"Once the court process is done and dusted you need to get up and get on with the rest of your life.

"You cannot let that person ruin the rest of your life," the young mum added.

The new video, made in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Youth Justice Agency, will be used to educate people, aged 16 to 25, across all policing districts in Northern Ireland

PSNI Detective Superintendent Brian Hanna said it was important everyone understood that sex without consent was rape and the devastating impact sexual assault had on people.

He also explained the video campaign was very timely with student Freshers' Weeks upon us and many young people starting a new academic year.

In the months to come, the video will reach a wider audience.

"An educational pack will be distributed from November through policing and community safety partnerships and local neighbourhood policing teams across Northern Ireland," he added.

"In the long-term we are looking to showing the film in locations across Northern Ireland and are keen to hear from outlets and groups working with young people who are happy to get involved."

FACTFILE

From April 1 to September 11 this year there were 195 incidents of serious sexual offences reported to the PSNI. The Rowan, Northern Ireland's first Sexual Assault Referral Centre, opened earlier this year. It is open to those who wish to self-refer directly by calling 0800 389 4424.

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