The impact on my education and life at university… #itsnotok

CW: sexual harassment, sexual assault, PTSD, suicide, self-harm

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

Read more: 5 February 2019 – I didn’t report it to the university… #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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2% of those experiencing sexual violence felt both able to report it to their university and were then satisfied with the process.

Left without adequate support, students share the impact experiencing sexual violence left on their education and life at university:

“I have dropped out of a sports team due to the team’s culture despite enjoying playing the sport itself”

“He was the invigilator for my final exam…I feel like he thought he could get away with it just because we’re disabled students”

“I dropped out after overwhelming mental health issues brought on by the rape”

“I can never play certain drinking games with friends where the questions asked may be sexual/invasive”

“I was sexually assaulted by a fellow student. He lived close to me and I was terrified of bumping into him on my way to uni or on campus.The event contributed to me having to take a leave of absence from uni for a year. I also lost my best friend in the aftermath. I later found out he had done a similar thing to another female student. He went on to be elected President of the Students’ Union”

“My uni were very supportive. They arranged for me to see a counsellor and moved him off a project where he would have been my supervisor”

“It occurred during my first year. I returned for my second year but found I couldn’t cope.  I received no support from anyone there. Lecturers on my course were extremely unsupportive and I think by the end of the year viewed me as a nuisance more than anything. I eventually transferred to another uni at the end of the second year. I’m now in my final year and can’t wait for the whole ‘experience’ to be over.  I went to uni to try and better my life and feel like it completely ruined it”

“My college pretended like it didn’t happen”

“University dismissed what happened to me. The perpetrator is on my course and if we ever choose the same module I’m the one who has to change”

“It makes me change the way I dance and the way I dress, worried people will look at me and see parts of my body like my legs – I feel exposed”

“I’ve had to file extenuating circumstances multiple times as I really struggled to complete work afterwards”

“After two sexual assaults in six months, I became severely depressed. Every day I thought about suicide. I stopped seeing friends, I couldn’t get out of bed. I thought I was the guilty person completely”

“I wasn’t allowed counselling – but my rapist got it”

“As an international student, I looked all over my university’s website but could find no clear indication of where to write about my experience and to seek support”

“The person left me with an STD which is not curable – I feel like they’ve ruined my future relationships already”

“I’ve had to restrict my use of the communal areas of my own flat to avoid harassment from them”

“For a couple months after the rape the effect on my day to day life was overwhelming. He can still enjoy his life exactly the same”

“The counselling and mental health services were awful, I had to wait months for an appointment”

“I was diagnosed with PTSD. I tried to commit suicide twice because I couldn’t foresee ever feeling better”

“Although the university were aware that it happened as police approached them for CCTV, I was never contacted by the university about the incident”

“I got bad social anxiety and wouldn’t leave the house in case I bumped into a man. I can’t get a taxi. I’m too scared to drink”

“It didn’t affect my studies because I liked to forget by working. But other people might not have that to fall back on”

“I am unable to go to certain parts of campus. I self-harmed and even contemplated suicide at times”

“My tutor was amazing at helping me, even called the halls of residence staff to pressure them to take action. But the halls staff told me they couldn’t move him out of my flat because although he was stalking me he didn’t physically harm me – I felt the system did nothing to help me”

“My college at university was absolutely useless. Despite the person who had been assaulting me being banned from making any contact with me, direct or indirect, my college allowed him to run for a senior position in college which would have put him in a position of power over me. After I complained, the college told me there was nothing they could do. I spent three weeks panicking about it and my college did nothing to help”

“The society chairman pinned me against a wall and kissed me aggressively. He followed me to my house and forced his way in but luckily he threw up before anything further happened and I was able to push him out the door. I quit the society but I still see him. He smiles at me. I’m still so shaken by him”

“I dropped out and moved across to a different region of the country”

“I deferred my year at university following the assault”

“Seeing the man who raped me on campus caused me to have debilitating panic attacks. We graduated on the same day and I had to see him on stage receiving his degree”

“The head of student welfare constantly victim-blamed me even after I raised this to her. She said it was not a rape and it was a mistake and a learning experience for both myself and the rapist. She ruined my mediation with him by blaming me in front of him – I had only agreed to mediation as I read storied of other survivors who went to prisons to meet their rapists and got closure. I was never allowed to call it rape or an attack, even after he confessed at mediation”

“I was so nervous I would bump into him or his group of friends. I’m still nervous about it even though he doesn’t live in this city anymore”

“The university never made a decision so the disciplinary process was never concluded. The rapist was never disciplined. Luckily my lecturers were very helpful including the rapist’s PhD supervisor”

“It happens much more than any university would like to admit and I feel like they definitely cover it up more”

“My uni was really supportive”

“My attendance is abysmal. I love studying but this has completely affected my confidence to go to seminars and lectures”

“I developed a weight problem but I think I got off easy”

“The man doing inappropriate presentations, shouting at his female peers, making gross comments about rape and drinking in class, was eventually moved to another class, but this took an entire term and no further action was taken”

“A lot of my modules are based on either sex or violence – it’s so difficult to avoid these distressing topics so I end up avoiding a lot of classes so I don’t get upset in class”

“I left the university after being sexually abused and they did nothing about it”

“The biggest impact of my sexual assault was on my identity as a bisexual woman. The friends of the boy who forced himself on me bullied me verbally about being a lesbian – it made me too scared to come out again. I now live in fear of people in my halls this year discovering I’m not straight and have nightmares about that happening”

“The environment in first year halls feels so overwhelming and can be very difficult at times”

“I feel unwelcome in my own college bar when they’re there”

“I switched universities entirely because of the overwhelming anxiety I had every day being surrounded by people who blamed me and were involved in the incident”

“I find the lack of education around consent to be quite shocking for such an esteemed institution. So many guys in halls joked about and openly admitted to stealthing people regularly”

“I got targeted by older and postgraduate students to be ‘sharked’ a.k.a. taken advantage of whilst drunk from day one. It really wasn’t a pleasant introduction to university life, waking up to discover you’ve been raped repeatedly in your first week of independence”

“The reporting system was very confusing, with university staff telling me to do all different things, so eventually I just gave up”

“My university asked for the name of my rapist but refused to tell me what they would do with it”

“Victims often seem to be failed by a rather uncaring and insensitive set of official policies that not only limit what can formally be done, but also reflect how little the institution is willing to do”

“I know far too many female students whose education has been negatively affected by unwanted sexual or “romantic” advances, in particular from course peers. Is anyone in power actually listening?”

“My university failed me entirely when I reported my sexual assault, and it was brushed under the carpet. I didn’t bother reporting the second incident. I figured out that I had the emotional strength to do one of two things: I could pursue a complaint against my rapist, or I could finish my degree. I chose the latter and went for counselling after graduating, but I still have not recovered and I think about it literally every day. I am still so angry.”

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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