Sexual violence or abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, age or background. No matter what the circumstances, you are not to blame.
If you have experienced sexual violence, assault or harassment, there is help available to you.
You may feel confused, or scared, and not sure who to turn to. Please know that there is support available, that you will be listened to and believed. If you choose to speak to the services listed below, your decisions will be respected, and what happens next is up to you.
Are you safe?
If an assault has just happened, you might want to call the police on 999. If you are injured or need medical assistance, then call an ambulance by dialling 999. If you are on campus, you can call Security on (01904 32) 3333 or use the SafeZone App.
If you are not at immediate risk, try to find somewhere safe and speak to someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member, someone at the university, college or the GSA or YUSU Advice Services.
If you think you might want to report the incident, and have any evidence that you think would be important, such as condoms, bedding, clothing etc, then put them in a clean paper or plastic bag.
Who can I talk to?
If there is no immediate threat to you and you wish to talk things over with someone confidentially and/or discuss any options available to you, you have a number of people you can talk to:
University Sexual Violence Liaison Officer: The University has a specialist Sexual Violence Liasion Officer (SVLO) who can meet with you face to face to talk through your options for support. They can also explain the reporting options, and how these processes work. Support is confidential, and what you decide to do is up to you – you will not be pressured into taking any action unless you want to. If you decide to report the incident, the SVLO can support you through the reporting options available. The SVLO can support you whether or not you make a report, whether the experience is recent or took place a long time ago, and regardless of whether the perpetrator is within the university community or not.
You can request to speak to the SVLO by completing this online form.
Other sources of support on campus are listed below. Whilst these staff may not be experts in providing support for survivors of sexual violence, you may feel more comfortable talking to them first, and they can talk you through your options for seeking specialist advice.
If you would prefer to speak to someone independent from the University, you can make a confidential appointment with a Student Union adviser:
YUSU Advice & Support Centre
Graduate Students’ Association Advice Service
Where can I find specialist support?
Sexual Assault Referral Centre – Bridge House
Bridge House is York’s sexual assault referral centre (SARC). The SARC offers support, information and advice to those who are victims of sexual assault. They can collect and store medical evidence. This gives you the option of storing evidence if you don’t want to report to the police at the moment, but think there’s a chance you may want to do so in the future. They can also support you in reporting to the police if you wish to do so.
Phone: 0330 223 0362 (9am-5pm) 24 hour answer phone
Out of hours helpline: 0330 223 0099
Independent Domestic Abuse Service
IDAS is a specialist charity that provides comprehensive support services to anyone experiencing or affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence. They have Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) who provide support to people who have been sexually assaulted or raped. They provide non-judgemental support on the practical impact of sexual violence, including housing, legal matters, and the criminal justice process. They also offer support for the emotional impact, and can refer onto counsellors and other support as appropriate. They have separate service of Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors (IDVAs) for people who are experiencing domestic violence.
Phone: 03000 110 110 (North Yorkshire)
24 hour National Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Survive is a York based charity, supporting Survivors of rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse and any form of sexual violence or abuse. They offer a range of support on a 1:1 basis and through group work, and also provide support for survivors’ partners and family members. They work with men and women and are an LGBTI inclusive organisation.
Phone to make an appointment: 01904 638813
YorSexual Health is an NHS service that offers support to anyone who has experienced a sexual assault. They can provide advice and support, as well as emergency contraception and referrals to confidential counselling services. They have clinics across North Yorkshire, and a Walk in Service at Monkgate in York.
Phone: 01904 721111
How can I report an incident?
Deciding whether to report an incident can be difficult and involve a number of factors.You may feel confused, frightened, and unsure of your options. Specialist support is available to help you understand the process of reporting, so you can make an informed decision about whether you want to make a report. If you decide to report, either anonymously to the police, and/or to the university, you will be offered support throughout the process. If you choose not to report, your decision will be understood and respected.
Reporting anonymously to the police
If you wish to report anonymously to the police, this can be facilitated by the University’s Sexual Violence Liaison Officer, or the GSA and YUSU Advice Services. A meeting is then arranged with the police’s Safeguarding Manager, who can take a first account of your experience and relay this to North Yorkshire Police without disclosing your personal details. This means that you have reported the incident anonymously. If you subsequently decide to take further action, the police can refer to this report. If the perpetrator’s name comes up in any other investigations, this also allows the police to come back to you to see if you would like to take any further action at that point.
The meeting with the police Safeguarding Manager can take place on campus, and you will be offered support throughout the process. Alternatively, you can contact the SARC directly to arrange this.
Reporting to the police
If you are currently in any danger, then call the police on 999.
If this is not an emergency, then you can report to the police by calling 101. You can also go to your local police station.
You can report an incident to the police at any time. Once you have reported to the police, a specially trained officer will make contact with you and ask you some questions about what’s happened. They may visit you to take samples of evidence, or support you to access the SARC, so that you can be looked after by a support worker and a specialist nurse can collect forensic evidence. They will also talk to you about other support available to you. More information on reporting to the police is outlined here.
If the incident has just happened and you want forensic evidence to be collected, try to contact the police or the SARC straight away, or within 72 hours of the assault.
Try to avoid washing, brushing teeth, smoking, eating or drinking, or cleaning up the area of the incident. You can put clothing that you were wearing at the time in a clean paper or plastic bag.
Don’t worry if you have already done some of these things, it’s possible evidence is still available to collect.
Please be aware that once you have reported to the police, you can still choose to opt out of the reporting process at any time. You will still have access to support available, through the SARC and other specialist support organisations.
Reporting to the police at a later date
You can report to the police at any time.
If you are not sure if you want to report to the police, you can still access support from the SARC. The SARC will not pressure you to report to the police, and they can store the results of a forensic examination for up to 7 years whilst you decide whether or not to make a formal report.
If you think there is any evidence that may be relevant in the future that you can photograph, it would be helpful to take photos so that you can pass these to the police at a future date.
Not reporting to the police
If you choose not to report to the police, your decision will be respected and you will still have access to support.
Reporting to the University
If the incident involves another student at the University of York, then you have the option of formally reporting the incident via the online student misconduct reporting process. More information about how to report, what to expect from the process, and support available throughout the process can be discussed with the University’s SVLO, or Student Union advisers at YUSU or the GSA.
Other useful organisations
Your registered doctor (GP)
Samaritans: 24/7 helpline for whatever you are going through
Rape Crisis: To find your nearest Rape Crisis Centre
Survivors UK: Specialist support for men who have been sexually assaulted or abused.
Galop: A national organisation that offers advice and support to people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence or domestic abuse.
National Stalking Helpline: National Helpline for information and guidance to anybody in the UK who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking
Karma Nirvana: Supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage
Forced Marriage Unit: A government helpline to provide advice and support to victims of forced marriage