Sexual violence is never okay.
It can be distressing to learn that someone you know has experienced sexual violence and it may be hard to know what to do. There are lots of ways in which you can help.
If you feel that you, the individual, or anyone else may be in immediate danger or that they may 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 help them find somewhere they feel safe.
Acts of sexual violence are terrifying experiences and everyone reacts differently. Some people will be visibly upset, others will feel numb, and some will appear to carry on ‘as normal’ and try to get straight back into a regular routine – all reactions are normal and valid.
If you feel able, talk to them in a safe place. Be patient and let them tell you as little or as much as they want at their own pace. They may not want to talk right now and you may feel that you are not doing enough but just being there may be all they need at the moment. It is important that you don't force them to give you information.
Listen to what they have to say. This is the most valuable thing you can do. Stay calm, be empathetic and show your concern. Try not to interrupt or ask too many questions. It can help for them to hear that you believe them, that it was not their fault and that they are not alone.
Often those that have experienced sexual violence feel a loss of control. It is important that they feel they have some choice and control over what happens next.
When they are ready ask them if they are okay to talk through some possible options and next steps. More details about reporting options (including the option not to report) can be found here. You can help them to explore options but try to avoid telling them what they should do. Let them make their own decisions even if you have strong views about what you would like them to do.
Let them know that further support is available. You can find details of who they can talk to and the different types of support available here.
And don’t forget to take care of yourself too. It is important that you look after yourself and seek support if needed. It is common to need support when supporting someone else.