When you first come to university, you probably don't give much thought to your safety on campus.
The excitement of this new experience, meeting new people, being away from home and not having to answer to anyone tend to be the main things that come to mind when you arrive at uni, right?
The university experience should be about self-exploration and enjoying this time in your life, however, for some, the experience isn't so pleasant. The number of reports regarding campus safety and sexual violence has increased, resulting in the need for the awareness and message surrounding this subject to be increased, especially regarding consent.
Research completed by Revolt Sexual Assault and The Student Room points out the truth about the scale of sexual violence experiences at UK universities; it seems like this is much more serious than originally thought and students aren't having such a good time after all.
The research revealed that only...
Sexual violence can include groping, harassment, unwanted touching, coercion, sexual assault, and rape. Knowing the difference between an incident and 'a joke' exchange can be unclear to some people but it's important to report it if/when you feel it isn't ok. Out of 4,500 students, 62% of these experienced sexual violence at university and shockingly only 1 in 10 students had reported their experience to the university or the police - something that a change needs to be made.
Making yourself aware of the support services on campus is essential. Usually, in Freshers Week, they provide you with an overload of information; one of these being the support on offer to you all year around. If you missed this, then refreshing your memory may be a good idea, even if you need the services for a completely different reason.
What do you do?
We've all heard of the 'No Means No' campaign. This encourages victims to come forward and report incidents with the confidence that they will receive specialist support in return. It also makes people aware of what is and isn't acceptable, when someone says 'no', it means no. Understanding that both parties need to give consent and understanding this is crucial, whether it's setting personal boundaries, or making things clear, you get the final say on what happens with your body.
Safety > everything
Being safe on campus and feeling safe is very important. There are a few simple things that you can do to help yourself. Nobody should experience sexual violence at university, especially when you should be having an amazing time and we want to help to prevent that!
Whenever in doubt, remember these:
- Make yourself aware of campus security and how to get in touch with them.
- Never walk alone, especially at night. Make sure you're always part of a group as you have safety in numbers.
- If you experience something at a social event, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible and make security aware.
- Understand the meaning of consent; if you don't want to do anything or something doesn't feel right then don't do it. No matter how intoxicated you are or how much you know the person, you can always say no.
- Talk to yourself exactly like you would a friend. If they experienced this, you would tell them to report it and that it wasn't their fault, so now is a time to take your own advice.
There is always someone to talk to and a listening ear, especially if you feel like your friends and family are too close to home. Supportline and Rape Crisis can help, as can your university support services.
It's important to make sure you are being and feel safe on or around campus. There are people out there who can help you if you are ever worried or have any issues, so always speak to someone.
You are not alone.