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University Advice ❱❱ What to Do About Sexual Harassment or Rape at University

What to Do About Sexual Harassment or Rape at University

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This article is one of the most unfortunate things that we have to cover on our website. At University Compare we aim to provide you with as much information as possible to aid you in your studies.

When at university, there is a possibility that you or someone you know may experience sexual harassment or rape at university.

If this happens to you, or anyone you know, we urge you to report the incident to your university, the police and your student union immediately. Incidents such as these must be reported, you could help people from facing similar issues in the future!

Many people seem unaware of what sexual harassment or rape may involve and how it can manifest, when at university, so we’ve compiled a useful guide to help you if you or anyone else that you know has experienced sexual harassment.

What is Sexual Harassment?

There seems to be a misunderstanding as to what sexual harassment is and what it involves. Sexual harassment can be anything from sexual assault, through to inappropriate name-calling.

Sexual harassment can apply to any gender and is not specific to one gender or one group of people. Plenty of men and women have suffered either and can be guilty of it as well.

Sexual harassment can manifest itself in many different ways. Sexual harassment is any form of sexual interaction or abuse that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.

The most common forms of sexual harassment at university are:

 

  • Catcalling
  • Wolf-Whistling
  • Inappropriate touching or groping
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Uninvited physical contact
  • Sexual taunts or insults

If you or anyone you know has experienced these issues, then we urge you to report this immediately. This behaviour is unacceptable and has to be stamped out, and the only way to do so is by reporting this to your university, your student union, or to the police.

What is Rape?

Rape is a form of sexual assault. Rape is a type of sexual assault that involves sexual contact or intercourse without the consent of the person involved.

As with sexual harassment, rape can apply to either gender and does not affect only one gender or one group of people.

Rape is a very serious charge and as with sexual harassment, if you or anyone else you know has experienced this, you must report it.

How can I deal with sexual harassment or rape at university?

Your university will always have a student union on site. Your student union is there to speak to about exam stresses, mental health issues, university issues or anything else that you can think of, and as a result, your student union can help you if you are experiencing any of these issues.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your student union, then we recommend that you see other people at the university you can speak to. Your university may offer counsellors on site that you are able to speak to or may have a department on site that can deal with these issues. When attending a university open day, we recommend that you find this information out as soon as possible, in case the unthinkable happens.

When you first join university, you are given a tutor, a tutor is assigned to help you out at university. A tutor may help you with any issues that you’re facing at university, whether that be giving you exam revision tips, help you if you’re experiencing bullying at university or anything else, and they will be able to help you.

If you feel that you can’t speak to anyone at university, speak to friends and family. The more friends and family are aware of these issues, the easier it may be for you. Your friends and family can give you the strength to take these issues further. Your friends and family can be the source of inspiration, and a source of strength in difficult times, don’t leave them in the dark and don’t underestimate how important they are! There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with friends and family as well, even if you’re feeling homesick at university as well.

You can go to the police. This is a step that we recommend regardless of who else you speak to. Sexual harassment or rape is a serious issue and should be reported, without hesitation. Speak to the police, the police are capable of helping anyone that is in crisis and they could help you further by setting you up in Rape Support Groups, where you can meet people who have experienced similar issues and can also keep you in the loop regarding legal proceedings, if any are carried out against the perpetrators.

We will also list a number of charities, organisations, companies, helplines and agencies who specialise in this area and can help you if you face any of these issues, which you can see at the bottom of this article.

University Campaigns

A number of universities operate their own sexual harassment or rape campaigns or services for students. Not all universities will offer these, but many do, for instance, the University of Birmingham, offers their own service, which is called The Not On campaign.

The campaign will be similar across universities who offer such campaigns, which is to educate students of the issues that can occur at university and alert students how to report such issues and to act on them.

Universities UK has also set up a task force aimed to examine issues surrounding sexual harassment and sexual violence and as a result, have published their findings on their website in a detailed report, which details recommendations to universities on dealing with violence against women and harassment, this article gives people advice in every walk of life, and is aimed at both men and women, despite the title.

Many universities have started running workshops or classes aimed at educating students. These workshops are designed to make students aware of the areas that can arise from sexual abuse, harassment or rape and promote discussion. Most universities will use a company called Bystander, which is a University of Windsor initiative. Their courses are aimed at male, female and gender non-conforming or transgender students, that allows you to choose which group you wish to sit with, as the courses are separate.

What if sexual harassment or rape took place off university campus?

This is still a university issue and needs to be addressed. Whether this was with a fellow university student, or with a person who does not attend university, this still needs to be reported to your university and needs to be reported to the police as well.

Just because this was not experienced on a university campus, does not mean that this is not still a university issue. You need to report this, all the same, geographical locations don’t factor in a university’s duty of care.

Why is it so important that I report sexual harassment or rape at university?

Rape and sexual harassment are two very serious issues and these have to be reported to the university and to the police.

There are a number of reasons for this.

First of all, the offender is a danger to others, reporting their acts can at least allow the police or the university to deal with the offender. They are able to arrest them and to speak to the offender and even take action against them. Another benefit to doing this is that your testimony can stop the person committing these offences from doing this.

In cases of sexual harassment, sometimes, the offender is unaware that they are offending anyone or making anyone uncomfortable, so allowing people to be shown where they’re going wrong can help.

If you have experienced these issues, it can take an effect on your mental wellbeing. This is not always the case of course, but many people start to see their university work affected by the experiences. As we said above, it can affect your mental well being and as a result, your university work may begin to suffer. Obviously, at this point, your university work is not among your primary concerns at that point, but if you report this to your university, they may let you off certain assignments, they may excuse you from certain essays or allow you to miss the remaining time at university, if you need it, best to speak to your university and see what they will do, rather than speculate.

Sexual harassment or rape can have a serious effect on people’s mental health and mental wellbeing. As a result, it could affect you in ways that we can’t always see. Looking into how to deal with mental health issues at university can be a very useful thing to do, and speak to any people who can help you out. If you catch a mental health issue early on, you can help yourself an awful lot and you can also learn coping techniques for other areas of university life if things become overwhelming in other areas too!

Many people who have experienced sexual harassment or rape at university do not report these issues to the university. Many people are too scared to report things or are worried about the potential backlash of doing these things, as a result, people begin to blame themselves or begin to experience some very unpleasant personal issues as a result. Reporting a case of sexual harassment or rape could give people the inspiration to do the same and could help a number of people.

Is sexual assault or rape a common occurrence at university?

It’s difficult to say if sexual allegations are common at university, but it is unfortunate to say that it does happen.

The FoI (Freedom of Information) that was sent by The Guardian to 120 different universities, found that there have been 169 allegations made against non-academic and academic staff members.

It’s not just students that have experienced this however, 127 separate allegations have been made about academic staff members, by colleagues.

The report from The Guardian suggests that sexual harassment is now at epidemic levels in UK universities, this is, of course, open to your own interpretation, but the report found a lot of important information throughout universities in the UK. The Guardian report found that only 28% of the most serious incidents are reported.

A recent survey from The Telegraph found that one in three females in the UK have been sexually assaulted or abused on campus, and that figure is one in eight male students. 6 in 10 males who have experienced sexual abuse or harassment have also revealed that they did not report such experiences.

In 2016, the BBC published an article that showed that Police in Scotland had reported the number of recorded sexual crimes had increased by 6.2% over a twelve month period.

It is important to report sexual abuse or harassment to your Student Union, an article published on the BBC in 2015, said that 17% of students have experienced sexual harassment during their first week of term and that 66% of students were not aware of how to report the incidents, and a further 12% were worried that they would not be taken seriously if they reported such claims.

Of the people who responded to the survey, 46% were male and 52% were female and 73% of people who filled out the survey were between the ages of 18 and 20.

We have listed the number for Rape Crisis, who can help with any rape-related issues across England and Wales, and the company reported a number of UK rape statistics across the board.

Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every single year. Only 15% of those who have experienced sexual assault or sexual violence have chosen to report this to the police and approximately 90% of those who were raped knew the perpetrators prior to being attacked.

Am I alone?

Of course not!

It’s an unfortunate problem, but plenty of people have experienced these issues at university and have experienced the same issues that you will be facing. Remember, you are never ever alone in this area. Your friends and family will always be there for you, your university has a duty of care to you and other students and will be able to help you as well.

Plenty of people ask themselves this as well. It’s a common side-effect of something as traumatic as this, to feel that you are alone in these problems. Let us assure you that you are not. There are many people who have faced these issues, and not just people at university. You only have to look to the news with the recent Harvey Weinstein accusations to see just how widespread, abuse can be spread and how unified people can be in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

If you do have these feelings, you can call some of the charities, organisations, companies, helplines and agencies, we’ve listed below.

Important contacts to have

We have listed a number of useful charities, organisations, companies, helplines or agencies that you can speak to if you have any issues, need someone to speak to or are generally looking for advice about sexual harassment or rape at university.

Issue Helpline Telephone Number
Mental Health Issues in General Mind 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Panic Attacks/OCD No Panic! 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
OCD OCD Action 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)
Suicide PAPYRUS 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm)
General Samaritans 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Rape Rape Crisis 0808 802 9999
Relationships RELATE 0300 100 1234
Sexual Abuse Referral Centres SARC Find a local centre
Child Abuse NSPCC 0808 800 5000 or 0800 1111 5000
Rape and Sexual Assault Victim Support 0808 802 9999
Female Helpline Against Rape Women Against Rape 020 7482 2496 (24-hour helpline)
Rape Survivor’s Group The Survivor’s Trust 08088 010 818
Male Helpline Against Rape Survivors UK 02035 983 898

If you have any issues surrounding rape or sexual harassment, we urge you to report them to the relevant authorities and to speak to people if you have any issues, don’t keep it to yourself, make sure that you speak to people and help yourself.

 


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