I didn’t report it to the university… #itsnotok

CW: sexual harassment, sexual assault

4-10 February 2019 is UK Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week #itsnotok

Read more: 4 February 2019 – I was made to feel responsible… #itsnotok

Every day this week we are sharing testimony from students all across the UK about the reality of the sexual assault and harassment they experience at university. 

Every story and statistic shared this week comes from the national consultation conducted by Revolt Sexual Assault and The Student Room, where 4,500 students and recent graduates from 153 different institutions shared their experiences. For more insights into this consultation, see our Research

Thinking about sharing your own story? Connect with us here

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Just 6% of students reported their experience of sexual assault or harassment to their university.

When asked why they didn’t report sexual crimes to their university:

  • 56% thought it ‘wasn’t serious enough’
  • 35% felt too ashamed
  • 29% didn’t even know how to make a report

“Harassment is something girls just have to deal with. It becomes normalised and I feel it would just be seen as trouble-causing or overreacting to report it”

“When it’s a friend, it’s difficult to realise it was actually assault, and difficult to do anything about it after”

“I didn’t know who I could talk to confidentially”

“I didn’t want to have to constantly relive what happened through an ongoing investigation”

“I made an informal complaint to alert the university about a member of staff and they discouraged me from making a formal complaint”

“At the time I didn’t realise the severity of what had happened, I thought it was my fault”

“I didn’t know who to contact”

“I didn’t feel like it would be taken seriously”

“It happens to everyone so complaining would be making a big deal out of it and risk looking petty”

“I was afraid of him and didn’t want to provoke retaliation” 

“Because you think it was nothing at the time, until it festers and you see the impact on your life and the change in the way you think, when you’re reluctant to trust new friends”

“When these boys had first started harassing me I reported to the uni and my accommodation, but nothing was done”

“It’s easier to just avoid it by not going to the SU” 

“They never listen. We’re told to deal with it or there’s nothing they can do or call the police, and we get the same response from them”

“It happens at every social event and everyone knows it happens. It’s just an accepted part of going on a night out”

“I didn’t know who to go to, or what there was that could be done. Now I just look out for other girls and my close friends”

“I was aware that despite campaigns highlighting this as an issue, the VC’s belief was any incidents that took place were nothing to do with the University”

“As a gay Muslim, I felt discussing the incidents could lead to some level of being exposed”

“I didn’t think it would be taken seriously, especially since it was my ‘partner’ who was doing it”

“I didn’t know how to report – there was very little information”

“Whilst it made me angry and depressed, I didn’t want to cause any harm to the offender’s life prospects or career” 

“There is a known culture at my halls and university of victim blaming”

“Once a male tried to break into my room at my halls – I called campus security and the police, but the police made me feel like a fool and the halls manager gave me a verbal warning the next day for ‘overreacting’. I knew then there was no point reporting any less public and violent incidents because I was likely to be kicked out of halls” 

“I was not aware of the process. I wasn’t sure I wanted to make myself vulnerable to further trauma. I didn’t think I would be believed”

“Being a male, I didn’t think I would be taken seriously”

“In my first year, a girl was raped and the entire college knew about it, and who she was, within 24 hours. There is no-one to report it to without it becoming a big drama and confusion. Too many people get involved because none of the staff are sure who is ‘in charge’ of managing that kind of situation”

“Because I had no proof that he pressured me into it. He told other people and all our friends so I couldn’t have my own narrative, and so my friends believe him over me”

“I felt it was my fault”

“I didn’t want anyone to know. I felt dirty”

“It was my word against his, no witnesses, and he had more powerful friends”

“It’s part of university culture, it would be weird of me to report” 

“Because of my mental health – it would be too much stress”

“I don’t trust the university to handle it properly”

“Because of fear, and shame”

“I feel that female assault/harassment of men is not taken seriously”

“I tried to. But speaking about everything that happened to me was too painful. I gave up”

“I didn’t want to confront her or even look at her. I felt like it was my fault, and I would ruin her life. I was also worried that I would invite homophobia”

“People knew that I fancied him so there’s no way I would have been believed”

“I was worried about being judged after hearing how other people had been treated who made the same complaints. Also our welfare officer was friends with students so I wasn’t sure it would remain confidential” 

“Because the victim is the one put on trial which can be as distressing and dehumanising as the actual event”

“When my close friend reported they didn’t take her seriously. They tried to blame her and downplay it. They also brought her harasser in to talk to her without her consenting to it first”

“I didn’t know reporting it to the university was even possible”

“I was certain it would reflect much worse on me and lead to my own social exclusion more than it would make the perpetrator not repeat those actions”

“Men can’t report these things, A male attacked by a female wouldn’t be taken seriously. I would be ostracised by the male members of my friendship group”

“I don’t believe they’d do anything – they haven’t done anything about ablest things even though their policies say they will, so why would they about harassment?”

“I felt nothing could be done about it and it would be humiliating to go through the experience”

“I can’t shake the feeling it was all my fault”

“I made an informal complaint but never a formal one as I was too mentally ill”

“The perpetrators were acquaintances – it would have been so awkward”

“No one would believe me. They were my friends, I didn’t want to tarnish their reputation or my own. I know that’s also wrong, but I had no idea what to do at the time. I left it too late and now I can’t do anything for me, but hopefully this can help other people.” 

Find Support

Sexual assault or harassment is not your fault. It is never, ever your fault.

Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. Don’t be afraid to get help. Find information, support and advice here – and if you are in need of urgent medical care or attention, call 999.

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