Sexual Assault Disclosures

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is a term commonly used to refer to sexual assault. Sexual assault is when a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or when a person touches another person sexually without their consent. Touching can be done with any part of the body or with an object.

Sexual violence can also refer to a range of criminal offences, including non-consensual crimes such as rape or sexual assault, crimes against children including child sexual abuse or grooming, and crimes that exploit others for a sexual purpose, whether in person or online.

If the incident involves another student or member of staff, then you are obligated to report this information to Student Services who will carry out a risk assessment based on the information provided. In this instance contact the Campus Life Managers on 01695 657570 or email [email protected] to report this information.

What you should do

To download a copy of the Care Pathway, visit the Student Services Staff Wiki.

Campus Life Manager Jenny Spruce outlines the steps you should take if a student discloses an incident of sexual violence to you. Detailed steps, as well as key contacts, are on the page below.

1. Assess the Immediate Risk

If a student presents in distress following a very recent incident of sexual assault, it is important to immediately assess whether:

  • The alleged assailant is still in the vicinity and an imminent risk to either the student or others.
  • Whether the student has any injury serious enough to require immediate medical attention.

If the assailant is still in the vicinity and an imminent risk to others, and you consider the situation to be an emergency, call the police on 999. Similarly, if the student has any serious injury that requires immediate medical attention, call an ambulance on 999.

**You do not require the student’s consent in these circumstances**

If the student’s disclosure is about an historical sexual assault or abuse, for example when they were a child or adolescent, find out if there are any children potentially at risk now such as; younger siblings or children who are in contact with the alleged perpetrator. If it is felt there is a potential risk to any children or vulnerable adults then contact a designated safeguarding officer immediately to report the risk to your Safeguarding Contact.

2. Provide a Safe Environment

If the situation is not an emergency requiring the immediate attention of either the Police or paramedics, then invite the student to a quiet area where you will not be overheard or interrupted. If you are alone with a student who is distressed and feeling vulnerable, it is best to inform a colleague what you are doing.

If you are at all unhappy about dealing with the incident, remain with the student until alternative support can be found. We strongly recommend that the Wellbeing team are contacted to provide the support at this stage on 01695 650988.

It is important at all times to ask the student what they want to do. Do not make assumptions and do not act without their consent.

  • Check if the student is happy to talk to you or would prefer to talk to someone else.
  • If the student is accompanied, check that this person’s presence is welcomed and if not, tactfully explain that you think it best they leave to allow the student to regain some privacy.
  • If the student is not accompanied, ask them if there is someone they would like with them who can be contacted for support.

Allow the student time to talk at their own pace, do not judge or anticipate what the incident is about. Each person’s experience of sexual assault will differ.

The police advise that any discussions stop as soon as a student says they wish to report the incident to the police. It is important that they are called as soon as possible after this decision is made. You can contact the police on 101.

3. Allow the Student Time to Talk and Make a Brief Record of Their Account 

It is important to not lead the conversation by asking questions; you are not investigating or gathering evidence. Any records taken as a “first responder” are known as a “first report” and can be used by the police or in court so it is important you do not take detailed notes as memories can be fragmented.

The police advise that any discussions stop as soon as a student says they wish to report the incident to the police. It is important that they are called as soon as possible after this decision is made. You can contact the police on 101.

  • Listen and allow the student to talk without interruptions.
  • Focus on what is being said not on what you are going to say or do.
  • Do not make assumptions about what the student wants, feels or felt.
  • You should always accept what the student says regardless of any private reservations you might have (save your reactions for a de-brief session).
  • Do not make notes, just a record of the student’s name, alleged assailant’s name if known, time and date of the incident, and a brief description of the support you provided as part of your duty of care to the student.
  • You can show the student anything you have written down and ask them to confirm what you have written by signing it.

4. Give the Student the Sexual Assault: Information for Students Sheet

Provide the student with the Sexual Assault: Information for Students and allow them time to read it, take it away with them, or read it with them to ensure they have enough information to make an informed decision.

Briefly point out important information such as the time limitations that they may wish to consider if they are considering whether to report the incident formally or not.

If the student does not wish to report the incident to the police but wishes to preserve forensic evidence so that they can retain this option for the future they should report the incident to and visit SAFE Place, SAFE Centre or St Mary’s SARC. See information in the Resources section for contact and website information.

We would strongly recommend wherever possible that you suggest to the student that they immediately contact staff in the Wellbeing team in relation to disclosures as they are trained in this area and will be able to advise and support the student.

You can also provide signposting information to external support services. See the Resources section for more information.

5. Ask the Student What They Want to Do Next

If you believe the alleged assailant may pose an imminent risk to the student or others, or where you feel there has been an injury inflicted on the student that requires urgent medical attention you do not need the student’s consent to call the police or an ambulance.

Where there is no imminent risk or severe injury requiring immediate medical treatment, the student has options about what to do next. Options for consideration are:

  • Report formally to the police – This can be immediately or it can be in the future. If the student wishes to report to the police it is preferable they make the call to the police themselves, however if they feel unable to do so and you have their consent you can call the police on 101. If the student chooses to report to the police they can still report to the University as well. Sometimes a student may wish to report it themselves or with your support, therefore they may need to find a telephone in a private location where you can make the call together.
  • Providing forensic evidence – Forensic evidence may need to be collected and this can be stored if the student is undecided but wishes to keep the option available to them to report it formally in the future. It is important this decision about reporting the incident formally is led by the student and that you provide them with the information they need to make an informed choice. If the student wishes to provide forensic evidence ensure they are aware of the guidance and time limitations and contact SAFE Place, SAFE Centre or St Mary’s SARC to arrange this.
  • Seek medical help – It is important the student seriously considers seeking medical help if they are injured or at risk of pregnancy or contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). It is not appropriate to call an ambulance against the student’s will but you can offer to arrange a medical appointment for them or recommend they visit A&E.
  • Ask the student if they want you to contact a friend or family member.
  • Alternative accommodation – Check if the student needs alternative accommodation to be found regardless of whether they live on campus or in private accommodation. If alternative accommodation is required contact Student Services on 01695 650800 during office hours or Campus Support 01695 584227 out of hours.
  • Report the incident formally to the University – It is recommended that students report the assault to the University, even if it doesn’t involve another student or it has not occurred on campus so that we can support them. However, this is their choice so please do not use any pressure and give them time to make their own decisions. If they do wish to report it to the University then contact Student Services and ask to speak to a Campus Life Manager on 01695 657570 or via email [email protected]. If the incident involved another student or member of staff, the Campus Life Managers can follow the Disciplinary Procedures. These procedures differ from a criminal investigation in that we will only be able to consider statements from the parties involved, social media posts, texts etc but will not require any forensic evidence.
  • Seek support from the Wellbeing team – Regardless of whether the student wishes to report the incident formally to the University or not, they can still access support through the Wellbeing team. To request an appointment contact [email protected] or call 01695 650988. If the student is unsure provide them with the information of how to refer themselves if they wish to access support in the future, or if they feel unable to make the appointment themselves and give you consent to do so, you can refer them for support.

Please note that if the student does not wish to report the incident formally to the University, you are required to still provide anonymised information to the Wellbeing team who will record the information for in relation to data about sexual assaults at the University.

Contact [email protected] to pass on this information.

If the incident involves another student or member of staff, then you are obligated to report this information to Student Services who will carry out a risk assessment based on the information provided. In this instance contact Campus Life Managers on 01695 657570 to report this information.

Historical Incidents

Historical Incidents of Sexual Violence or Abuse

There is no time limit for investigating or prosecuting incidents of sexual violence. If a student discloses details of an assault which happened previous to seven days earlier or even years before, they can still be referred to SAFE Place, SAFE Centre, St Mary’s SARC or the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre for support. See Resources section for contact and website information.

If the student discloses historical sexual abuse that occurred when they were a child or adolescent, it is important you find out if any children are potentially at risk for example; younger siblings, cousins, or other children who may be in contact with the alleged perpetrator. If you are aware of any potential risk to children it is not your responsibility to investigate this or provide evidence, but you do need to inform a designated safeguarding officer immediate to report this disclosure.

What Not To Do

  • Don’t ask questions or make statements that could make the student feel they are responsible in any way for the assault
  • Don’t investigate the incident, this could prejudice a police investigation
  • Don’t take notes other than noting down some basic facts about student’s name, alleged assailant’s name, location of the incident and a brief overview of the support you have provided
  • Don’t promise to keep information confidential
  • Don’t pressure the student to report the incident to the police or to anyone else
  • Don’t deal with the disclosure on your own if you do not feel confident or comfortable, contact Wellbeing team for support

How To Refer

  • If the student requires IMMEDIATE medical attention due to severe injury, or the alleged assailant is believed to be in the vicinity and may pose an imminent risk to the student or others, contact emergency services on 999 and inform Campus Support (01695 584227) to advise that emergency services will be arriving on campus.
  • If the alleged incident involves another student or a member of staff then you are obligated to report this information to Student Services who will carry out a risk assessment based on the information provided. In this instance contact the Campus Life Managers on 01695 657570 or email [email protected] to report this information.
  • If the student wants to report the incident formally to the police ideally the student should report this themselves, but if they feel unable to do so and you ensure you have their consent, you can do this on their behalf by contacting the local police department on 101.
  • If the student wishes to provide forensic evidence after reading the guidance and information given to them, contact SAFE Place to arrange this.
  • If the student wants to report the incident to the University formally, contact the Campus Life Managers on 01695 657570 or email [email protected]
  • If the student needs alternative accommodation to be found, contact the Accommodation team within Student Services on 01695 650800 during office hours or Campus Support (01695 584227) out of hours.
  • If the student wants emotional and wellbeing support from the Wellbeing team, contact [email protected] or call 01695 650988 (during office hours).
  • If the disclosure was concerning historic sexual abuse and there are concerns that any children or vulnerable adults may be at risk, report this disclosure to a designated Safeguarding Officer immediately.

Resources

Useful Links and Information

Student Services Staff Wiki (where you can download the Care Pathway)

Guidance for Students 

Metropolitan Police guide – what is rape and sexual assault?

NHS – help after rape and sexual assault

Support Agencies for Students

These links are also available in the ‘Guidance for Students’ document (above). We would recommend that you print this out and a give a copy to the student.

SAFE Place (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) (Merseyside) 

SAFE Place Merseyside offers forensic medical examination services for people who have been sexually assaulted. They have a team of highly-trained healthcare professionals who are here to support you at their examination suite in Liverpool City Centre. They can also provide you with emergency contraception, preventative treatments for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) including HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and advice on screening for STI’s at a later date.

Call 0151 295 3550 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

OR

Sexual Assault and Forensic Examination (SAFE) Centre (Lancashire)

The SAFE Centre offers medical examination, advice and support to people who have experienced sexual assault or rape. A member of the team will be available day or night by calling the telephone support and information line. If they cannot speak with you straight away, they will ring you back as soon as possible.

Call 01772 523344 any time of the day or night.

OR

St Mary’s Sexual Assault and Referral Centre (SARC) (Manchester)

Saint Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated forensic, counselling and aftercare service to people living in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire area who have experienced rape or sexual assault, whether this has happened recently or in the past.

Call the 24 hour helpline on 0161 276 6515.

Sexual Assault and Childhood Sexual Abuse

Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre/Cheshire and Merseyside

Offer counselling, access to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and an information line.

0330 363 0063

Lancashire Victim Services

Provide emotional support, information and practical help, regardless of whether you have reported the crime to the police or not.

0300 323 0085

Monday-Friday 8.00am-8.00pm, Saturday 9.00am-5.00pm

Survivors UK

Support for male survivors of domestic Abuse/physical violence

0845 1221201 Open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 7.00pm-10.00pm

Galop

Emotional and practical support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse.

0800 999 5428
[email protected]

Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service

For women and girls experiencing domestic abuse.

0151 263 7474/ Freephone 0800 084 2744

Savera

For women from black, minority ethnic and refugee communities experiencing domestic violence.Savera UK, 151 Dale Street, Liverpool, L2 2AH
0800 107 0726

National Women’s Aid

Southall Black Sisters

For black and Asian women and children experiencing domestic and sexual violence, including forced marriage and honour crimes. Languages: English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati and Urdu.

020 85710800 10.00am-5.00pm Monday-Friday (closed Wednesday 12.30pm-1.30pm).

Sexual Health Clinics

Sexual Health Liverpool

Blackpool and Lancashire Sexual Health Services

Sefton Sexual Health Service

Sexual Health Wirral

Knowsley Sexual Health

The Northern – contraception, sexual health and HIV service in the Manchester area.

Stalking

Stalking Helpline 

Network for surviving stalking 

Rights of Women

Rights of women is a women’s voluntary sector organisation which provides free legal advice and information to women affected by sexual violence. They publish a range of free information on areas of sexual violence law to support women through the criminal justice process, including From Report to Court: a handbook for adult survivors of sexual violence.

Staff Training

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