PSNI Highlights Available Support For Sex Abuse Survivors

Welcoming the launch of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which begins today, (Monday 5 February) the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has highlighted the support that is available to survivors, particularly of non-recent abuse.

Non-recent sexual offences reporting has been steadily increasing over the past five years, with reported offences totalling almost 5,800. In 2022/23 1,245 non-recent sexual crimes were reported to Police, an increase of 17% from 2018/19. Police have in part attributed this to more survivor's having the confidence to come forward after seeing successful sentencings, like Julieanne, a survivor who has waived her right to anonymity to encourage others to seek justice.

On Thursday 25th January 2024, her father was handed down a seven and a half year custodial sentence for raping her on her 18th birthday in 1990. Julieanne fell pregnant as a result and lost her child at three months into her pregnancy, she was then placed in a local psychiatric unit for eight and half months. She never saw her father again after this.

William Boyle, now 88 years of age, was residing in Birmingham at the time of his arrest for this offence on 15th October 2019, but originates from North Belfast in Northern Ireland. He had also been previously convicted for incest offences against his daughter under old legislation in 1984.

Now, 51 years old, Julieanne doesn't want to feel silenced anymore and hopes that by publicly sharing her story, others who have carried 'the shame of their abuse' will have the courage to speak out.

She says: "My 'father', who was never worthy of that title, robbed me of my innocence and I was silenced for so long as the abuse started when I was 11. At 51, I am now speaking out and taking back my life and my freedom.

"I lived a life in fear, fear of him, then fear of not being believed. I do not want other survivors out there to think they cannot speak out. I was believed, I was supported and I finally got justice. He no longer has any power over me.

"The trauma I experienced in not only being sexually abused but also losing my child, I will never fully recover from but today I feel like I can finally put my daughter to rest.

"I would like to thank the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Rape Crime Unit and the Public Protection Service for their support throughout the investigation and subsequent court case.

"The support I received from the outset gave me the confidence and strength to not give up even through the most difficult of circumstances. I would urge other survivors to come forward and report their abuse. I know you will be treated with the same respect, compassion and empathy I was. I will continue to fight for other survivors. Remember, it is not your shame to carry."

Detective Chief Superintendent Lindsay Fisher of the Police Service's Public Protection Branch said: "The silence surrounding sexual abuse must be broken. In Northern Ireland we have had a rise in the number of victims of non-recent abuse coming forward, not just in familial cases like Julieanne's, but also involving long standing institutions.

"For so long, there has been a cultural stigma at play and we have harboured a society where sex in general has been a taboo subject and so when people have been assaulted, they have found it incredibly difficult to tell someone.

"It is encouraging to see reporting figures go up as it tells me that our communities are taking serious steps to dispel harmful myths and move away from a victim blaming culture.

"This week, and every week, we are asking the public to take a stand with us and say – it is not ok. The perpetrators of these crimes are only ever the ones at fault and don't let the passage of time stop you from finally having your voice heard. We will listen, support and robustly investigate, always.

"If you have been the victim of a similar crime, I hope that Julieanne's case and other recent successful sentencings gives you the confidence to tell us."

If you have experienced any form of sexual abuse to contact police on 101, or in an emergency call 999. You can also report online here: www.psni.police.uk/report

For more information on sexual crimes and the support available to victims visit: PSNI: Sexual Violence & Abuse

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