If you think someone you know has experienced sexual violence there are lots of ways in which you can help them. Taking time to understand what constitutes sexual violence may help inform what your next steps could be. If you feel you can talk to them about what you have seen, they may be able to describe what has been happening and how it has made them feel. 
If someone has experienced sexual violence their reactions can vary; they may be afraid, angry or have no outward reaction at all.  They might even act in ways that seem unusual to you, even laughing at seemingly inappropriate times.
Disclosures can come in many forms; it could be something said jokingly, a story that someone starts to tell then stops and says it doesn't matter, or it could be a question.  You are not expected to be a professional counsellor; however how someone responds to a first disclosure can be really important. It can take time for a person to decide what they want to do and how they want to move forward.  

Think

If you or they are in immediate danger or seriously injured call 999 (or 112 from a mobile).
If you or they are on campus, you can call Security Services on 24/7 365 days a year on 01904 32 4444 or use the Safezone App.
If an incident has just happened, try and find somewhere you and they feel safe. 

Talk

  • Talk to them - If you feel able, talking things over can sometimes be a big help.
  • Listen - Stay calm, be empathetic and show your concern. Try to listen without judging or directing.
  • Give options - When they have finished talking ask them if they are okay to talk through some possible options and next steps. Allow the individual to stay in control of the conversation and of their decisions.
  • Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The most important thing is to respond in a way that maximises their choice and control over what happens next. You can simply ask them what they need or want. They might not make the same decision you would; however, only they can decide what is best for them.  You can help them explore options, but avoid telling them what they should do.
  • Make sure you look after yourself and if you need support ask for it.

Remember 

They might not want to report the assault to the police or the University.  There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose not to report sexual violence:
  • in most cases of sexual assault, the offender is known to the victim
  • they might be concerned that people won’t believe them or may not identify what occurred as a sexual assault
  • they may be concerned who else might be informed
  • they may have fear of or confusion about the criminal justice system or what happens if you report it to the University
  • if drugs or alcohol were involved, they may choose not to report because they are worried they will get in trouble as well
  • it is up to them to decide what they want to disclose and to whom.  Your support can help them talk through their concerns
  • let them know that you believe them and support their decisions
  • remind them that no one, regardless of relationship or status, has the right to hurt them and that no matter what, it is not their fault that this occurred
  • connect them with resources that can help them understand what happens if you report to the police and or the University.

Things to avoid

  • Just saying "it’s not your fault" (without listening to their story)
  • Using key ‘catch phrases’ or common sayings – e.g. “it will all be better with time"
  • Probing for details. Let them tell you what has happened in their own time
  • Blaming them – e.g. “what were you wearing?” and “were you drinking?” or  “did you text them to come over?”
  • Showing disgust or shock
  • Smirking and showing obvious disbelief
  • "Why didn’t you say straight away? Why are you only coming forward now?"
  • Trivialising the experience – “it was only a bit of fumbling”

Support

Our Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) can work with you one-to-one to talk you through your support options and reporting options, both within the University and externally. They will support you through whatever choices are right for you. You can access support from an SVLO whether something has happened recently or some time ago. Support is confidential and you will not be pressured into taking any particular course of action.  Complete this form to contact the SVLO.
Bridge House SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) - Offers support and guidance, a medical assessment/treatment, a forensic examination, and the opportunity for aftercare referrals into support services. You will be offered these services based on your individual needs, and can choose to use as much or as little of the service as you wish.
Find out more about support options both within and outside of the University for dealing with Sexual Violence. 

Report

  • Reporting to the University - You can chose to report with your contact details or anonymously using the buttons below. 
  • Reporting to the police - If you're thinking of reporting to the police, Victim Support has produced information on how this process may work, and what to expect. 
  • Reporting to the police anonymously - Our SVLO can arrange for a victim of sexual violence to pass on anonymous intelligence to North Yorkshire Police. This will not be treated as a formal report so the perpetrator will not be arrested and the incident(s) will not be investigated. The victim’s details will not be passed to the police and they will not make contact with them. Instead, the police will input the perpetrator’s information onto the national police database so that they can stay informed of what types of sexual offences are being committed and where.
  • Reporting to Crime Stoppers anonymously - You can call crime stoppers at any point on 0800 555 111 or use the Crimestoppers online form.
  • Choosing not to report - It is up to them if they wish to report this to anyone. There are many reasons they may chose not to report. Whatever their reason for not reporting this should be respected. They can still access support both from the University and outside of the University. The support is free and will not pressure them to report the sexual violence.
You can get advice on all of the above options from the University’s SVLO, but it is important to remember that it is their choice with how they wish to report (or not report, as that is also an option). 

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