Sexual violence is never okay.
If you have been affected by sexual violence it may be hard to know what to do or how to feel.
It is important to know that whatever has happened, it is not your fault.
We are here to support anyone who has experienced or been affected by sexual violence as we recognise the impact it can have and how difficult these experiences can be.
If you feel you are in immediate danger or have been seriously injured:
- On Campus: contact Campus Safety on 0121 359 2922 or via the Safezone app
- Off Campus: contact Emergency Services on 999 (or 112 from a mobile)
If the incident has just happened, try and find somewhere that you feel safe.
If there is no immediate threat it can be helpful to talk to someone you trust and feel safe with. This could be a friend, family member, tutor, campus safety officer, counsellor, chaplain or anyone else you feel comfortable sharing with.
You can find details of who you can talk to and the different types of support available here.
It is completely your choice whether you decide to report the sexual violence or not. No one else can or should make that choice for you.
If you are unsure what to do you may find it helpful to know the different reporting options available to you.
- Reporting to the Police
If you are thinking of reporting to the Police, Victim Support has produced some information on how this works and what to expect.
You can also see the West Midlands Police website for detailed information on reporting a rape or sexual assault.
If the incident has happened recently and you do decide to report to the Police, a medical examination will usually be carried out to collect any forensic evidence e.g. DNA from hair or bodily fluids.
- Gathering forensic evidence without reporting to the Police
If you’re not sure whether you want to report to the Police but think you might at some point, you can have a forensic medical examination at your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). They are able to store forensic evidence for future use.
If you do want forensic evidence to be collected try to go to the Police or SARC as soon as you can and within 72 hours if possible.
To help get usable forensic evidence SARCs recommend that you try not to eat, drink, smoke, wash, brush your teeth, change your clothes, go to the toilet or clean up the area where the assault took place. Don’t worry if you have already done any of these things – this does not stop you from reporting.
If you do decide to change your clothes, put the ones you were wearing in a clean plastic bag without washing them if you can. If you have not changed your clothes since the incident, you may wish to bring a spare set of clothes as the Police or SARC may need to keep the clothes you were wearing as evidence.
Horizon is the closest SARC to Aston University. You can contact them by calling 0800 970 0375 and can find out more about them here. If you are not on campus or in the surrounding area you can use this tool to find your nearest SARC.
Reporting to the Police and/or attending a SARC can be a lengthy process but you will be listened to and supported throughout the process. You may find it helpful to bring along a supportive friend or relative.
- Reporting to Crime Stoppers anonymously
You can call Crime Stoppers at any point on 0800 555 111 or use the Crime Stoppers online form.
- Reporting to the University
You can report any experience of sexual violence to the University either with your contact details or anonymously using the buttons below. If you provide your contact details then an advisor will be able to contact you and talk through the options and support that are available to you in confidence.
Your report will not trigger the formal complaints process unless you want it to and you will never be forced to submit a report to the Police.
- Choosing not to report
It is okay to not want to report what has happened. There are many reasons why you may choose not to report and these will always be respected. You are still able to access support [link to page 4] from both the University and outside of the University.
If you ever change your mind you can always return to these pages for further information and guidance.
- Reporting later
Many people do not wish to report immediately but may decide after a while that they want to. This is okay and there is no time limit for investigation by the Police or for prosecuting incidents of sexual violence. A key consideration when reporting non-recent assaults however is that forensic evidence may no longer be available and cannot be considered if not previously preserved.
You may have experienced sexual violence in the past and now feel able or safe enough to talk about it. The reporting options and support [link to page 4] available are relevant irrespective of when the sexual violence took place.
- Talking to someone about your options
If you are unsure about what to do then talking to someone about your options can be a helpful place to start. You can find details of who you can talk to and the different types of support available here. [link to page 4]
Whether you choose to make a report or not, there are some health issues that you may need further support with.
It might be very difficult to think about but if you have been raped or sexually assaulted by penetration you could be at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy. If you suspect you were given any type of drug it is best to be tested as soon as possible.
The sooner you access support the sooner your options for medication or treatment can be assessed and offered. You may wish to speak with your GP, local SARC, or call the National Sexual Health helpline on 0300 123 7123 for further advice and support.
Take care of yourself
It can be extremely distressing and confusing to experience sexual violence. It is important that you look after yourself and seek support if needed. You do not need to go through this alone.