Sexual Harassment, Violence and Where to Get Help
Sadly, sexism at university is often more than ‘laddish banter’, and it can escalate to harassment and physical violence and rape.
According to a January 2015 survey by the Telegraph, one in three female and one in eight male students say they have been victims of some form of sexual assault whilst at university. This can range from more minor cases of groping, to severe instances of rape and violence. More often than not, the perpetrator of the attacks is someone the victim knows, such as a friend, a partner, or a member of staff.
The same survey found that the majority of cases go unreported.
This can be for several reasons. Students who are victims may feel frightened anxious, ashamed or guilty. You may be embarrassed or apprehensive about reporting an incident, or think that it will not be taken seriously. These are normal emotional responses, but it is important to remember that you have done nothing wrong or have anything to be ashamed of.
Services offered at each university will vary but all will provide students with the means to access help if and when it is needed:
- Halls of residence wardens often live on site amongst students, and can be an invaluable and immediate source of help.
- Pastoral advisers and counselling support can be easily found on most campuses.
- Peer support networks are often offered as an alternative to traditional services, for those who would find it easier to talk to a fellow student.
- Welfare and women’s support is always available from the local NUS office.
You can gain specialist external support, advice and general confidential help. None of the organisations listed below will make you report an assault to the police if you don’t want to. Although some of these services are provided mainly for women, they will all offer advice to men. You don’t have to speak to anyone – use one of the email contacts if you prefer.
National Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre
- National Freephone Helpline 0808 802 9999
- Landline (not freephone, and will show on your bill) 0208 683 3300
- Minicom 0208 239 1124.
Nightline is operated on campuses around the country – it is a telephone support and information service run by specially trained students, usually operating from 8pm until 8am.
- Every Nightline is run by students for students – the volunteers are specially trained and the service is confidential and anonymous, so you don’t even have to give your name. Some Nightlines offer support via email, IM, text or face-to-face.
- Find your Nightline.
Rape Crisis England & Wales
- A national charity and heads up a network of independent Rape Crisis member organisations.
- Rape Crisis England & Wales lists local services.
- Helpline 0808 802 9999
Rape Crisis Ireland
- A confidential, safe environment for the survivors of sexual violence.
- You can email, drop into a local centre, or telephone the 24-hour helpline on 1800 778888.
- Find a Rape Crisis Centre in Ireland.
Rape Crisis Scotland
- Offers free and confidential support and information, and can put you in touch with a local centre or other services.
- Rape Crisis Scotland; email email@example.com
- Helpline 0808 801 0302
Sexual Assault Referral Centre
- The centre provides services to victims of rape or sexual assault.
- Search for a centre near you, or search by postcode or place name.
Victim Support – offers support to everyone affected by crime.
Victim Support England and Wales
Victim Support Northern Ireland
- Telephone 028 9024 3133
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Victim Support Scotland
- Telephone 0345 603 9213 (not a freephone number), or find Victim Support in your area.
Do not suffer alone. Talk to someone – a friend, family, university or medical staff, student support services or one of the specialist organisations. Sexual violence is a criminal offence and you can report an assault to the police, but you don’t have to. The support mechanisms are there to be used.
Next page: Sexism Questions to Ask at Open Days