As students head off to university, worrying Freedom of Information (FoI) statistics across 120 surveyed universities found that 169 allegations of sexual harassment or assault were made, some against staff and some against students.
So, what steps can you take to keep yourself safe on campus and what should you do if you have experienced sexual abuse?
Safeline offer online and face-to-face support for people who have been the victims of sexual abuse and assault. Their helplines are open six days every week, Monday to Saturday.
Although most people associate sexual abuse or assault as being carried out by a man on a woman, that’s not always the case. For this reason, Safeline offer a UK dedicated male helpline for men who have been the victims of unwanted sexual attention.
Safeline also run group therapy sessions designed to help those who have been abused recover and begin to function normally again. For those who want to report their abuser to the police, Safeline have Independent Sexual Violence Advisors to provide them with practical and emotional support throughout the whole process.
Safeline also run prevention initiatives to support and educate vulnerable young people, their parents, and those who work in education.
How to stay safe on campus
Your time at uni should be fun and memorable, as well as educational, and there are a few simple steps that you can take to stay safe.
First of all, familiarise yourself with the location and contact number of your campus’ security station or Campus Safety Office.
Be careful when hitting the university bar or local club with your new friends. Pace yourself and never get so drunk that you lose control of your inhibitions. Don’t leave drinks unattended. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for Rohypnol and GHB (date rape drugs) to be slipped into drinks, and because they don’t carry an odour or a taste, you could find yourself under the influence and vulnerable without realising it. For the same reason, always watch the barman make your drink so that you know exactly what’s in it, and avoid the notorious party punch bowl. If you do begin to feel unwell, take a taxi back to your ‘digs’ and make sure that a friend goes with you.
When heading home after a night out, always go in a group of friends and make sure that everyone makes it into their room (alone) and safe. Never be tempted to accept a lift from someone you’ve only just met.
When moving around the campus at night, always keep to well-lit areas if possible and try to travel in the company of a group of friends, rather than alone. You could also download the Safe Trek app (www.safetrekapp.com/?kbid=62750) that was developed specifically for students.
If you go out on a date, always tell someone where you’re going and with whom. Agree to text them when you get back to your room safely and make sure you have your phone and enough money to get you home independently.
If you suffer from any form of sexual abuse or assault, whether perpetrated by a fellow student, friend or member of staff, always contact your Campus Safety Officer, your parents, or the police immediately.
Every student has the right to study and live in a campus environment that is safe. You should never feel uncomfortable or threatened by the behaviour of a fellow student or member of staff. If you are concerned about something that has happened to you whilst at University, contact Safeline for a confidential chat and for further advice and support.
To speak to one of our helpline advisors, please call 0808 800 5008 today.