If the event has just occurred and they are in immediate danger or seriously injured, you should call 999. Try and take them to somewhere safe and secure. People who’ve experienced sexual abuse may react in a variety of ways. They may freeze, be upset, angry, fearful or display no outward reaction at all.
If someone tells you that they have been a victim of sexual violence or abuse, you are not expected to be a professional counsellor or detective, you should not ask for details of the assault/abuse or attempt to gather information which may hinder further investigations by authorities.
You can support the person by listening. It can take some time for people to decide how they want to proceed. Not everyone who experiences sexual abuse wishes to report the assault to the police or University. There can be a variety of reasons for this such as the offender being known to them, fear, worry about not being believed, concern for their privacy and confusion around the criminal justice system. It is important that they decide what they want to disclose, to whom and when. It’s also important that they feel believed, supported and aware that no one has the right to hurt them no matter the circumstances. You can find advice for talking to a survivor of sexual abuse here. You can suggest resources and services to assist them and if you feel you may benefit from support for your own wellbeing you can also access support services both within and outside the University of Westminster.
Out of Hours Support Services: These are services you can access at any point including outside of University of Westminster opening hours.
- The Samaritans: Helpline via freephone for those feeling in distress or despair. Available 24 hours a day. You can talk to them any time of day in your own way about anything that is affecting you
- Rape Crisis: Provides support for women and girls who’ve experienced sexual violence and abuse. The also provide a national telephone helpline for confidential emotional support
- Victim Support: Supports those who’ve been affected by crime or traumatic events
- SHOUT: For people experiencing personal crisis, unable to cope and in need of support. Text Shout to 85258, for free text service for anyone in crisis, anytime anywhere.
Sexual Abuse Support Services:
- The Havens: Support for people who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted within the past 12 months providing forensic medical examination, medical and emotional support services. These services can be used with or without police involvement.
- The Survivors Trust: Provide aftercare service for men, women and children who’ve experienced sexual violence or abuse whether recently or in the past
- Survivors UK: Provides support for males who have been sexually abused or assaulted
- National Male Survivors Helpline: Provide emotional support via telephone, text and e-mail for male survivors of sexual violence and abuse
- Galop: A charity that supports LGBTQ+ people affected by sexual violence
- National Domestic Violence Helpline: Support for people experiencing domestic violence or abuse