What to do if you’ve been subjected to sexual violence
The steps to take and support available if you've been subjected to sexual violence
We understand that if you’ve been subjected to sexual violence, you may be experiencing a mixture of emotions and feel unsure about what to do next.
Whatever happens, remember that what you choose to do next is completely up to you. The University and other services will be there to support you and the decision you make, but it is important that you are aware of your options and know what is best for your own recovery.
For some, it might be a long and difficult process to decide what is best for them. Remember, everyone’s recovery is different, and you should not feel any pressure to conform to a certain way of dealing with what has happened to you.
Report the incident to the University
We will talk to you about your options, and if you wish to, you can make a formal complaint to the University. After receiving the complaint, we will investigate the incident and take appropriate action (as stated in the University’s disciplinary procedures).
Please note the University can only take disciplinary action against individuals who are connected to the University in some way (e.g. they are a student, staff member, or contractor).
Report the incident to the police
You can report an incident to the police at any time by phoning 101, or in the case of an emergency, dial 999. Remember, it doesn’t matter when the incident happened, it does not have to be recent for you to report it.
The police have specially trained officers, which you’ll be referred to depending on your situation.
Where possible, you should preserve any physical evidence you may have. This might be in the form of text messages, emails, photos and screenshots, records of phone calls as well as voicemails. It’s likely you’ll also be asked to provide a statement.
In some cases, the police will arrange for a forensic examination to be carried out. In the event that the sexual assault took place within the last seven days, it is advised that you do not do the following in order to preserve evidence:
- Wash clothes.
- Tidy or remove items the assailant has touched or clean the area where the assault has occurred.
- In cases where the sexual assault was more recent, you may also be asked to not wash your body, brush your teeth, smoke, eat or drink, or go to the toilet.
Seek support from another organisation
You might be unsure whether you wish to formally report the incident. Or you might not wish to at all. If you find yourself in this situation, there are options available to you.
You can visit a local Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) - the nearest one to Loughborough is Juniper Lodge in Leicester. These centres are funded by Public Health and can offer services including forensic examination, medical services and access to sexual health services. If you decide at a later point you do wish to report the incident to the police, the evidence stored from a forensic examination at a SARC can be used.
In addition, SARCs also have access to counselling services to support you following the incident.
If you are not based in Loughborough, you can find your nearest SARC on the NHS website.
Choose to take no action
You do not have to disclose when you have been subjected to sexual violence. Individuals have unique ways of managing recovery and each circumstance will be different. Ultimately, it is your decision.
However, if you find that you might benefit from support there are people who can listen to you. For example, a therapist can provide non-judgemental support in a confidential space. Make sure you feel comfortable and can trust the person who are speaking to (whether they are a professional or not).
Alternatively, you might find reading and hearing stories about other people’s experience of sexual violence – through the media, as part of a therapy group, or via an online forum – can help to make you feel less alone, and you might also discover some coping mechanisms that work for you.