CW: sexual harassment, sexual assault
4-10 February 2019 is UK Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week #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.
Just 6% of students report experiencing sexual assault or harassment at university to the police.
When asked why they didn’t report their experiences of sexual violence at university to the police, overwhelming numbers of students felt that their experiences of sexual violence weren’t ‘serious enough’ to report to the police, that they weren’t deserving of police time, and shared distressing reasons just like these:
“I didn’t think it was serious enough to be going to the police with”
“I don’t trust the police”
“I didn’t want anyone to know, or for my ‘friends’ at the time to get in trouble”
“I wasn’t sure what the laws were in this country”
“It’s a regular occurrence in nightclubs, I didn’t bother”
“I didn’t have information on how to report it”
“At the time, I didn’t perceive the assault to be an assault”
“The likelihood of something being done about it is so small it seems pointless. The level of rape cases that do not end in a conviction confirms this”
“It took a lot to even admit to myself what had happened, let alone try to convince someone else it had happened”
“I don’t think the law is effective enough to protect me”
“I didn’t think it was serious enough to warrant police time”
“I knew that nothing would come of it except more pain and constant reminders of what had happened to me”
“I just wanted to forget about it”
“I didn’t think they would believe me because he was my boyfriend”
“I didn’t see the point”
“I didn’t have the strength”
“At the time I didn’t realise the severity of what had happened because I thought it was my fault so didn’t realise I could have reported. I didn’t know who was available to support me”
“I also don’t want to destroy their chance at life because of one mistake, even though it was a big one”
“I didn’t report any harassment, it felt inconsequential”
“I felt that I would get backlash for calling the police over it, the guy thought was a joke”
“I didn’t know what he did was illegal”
“I heard people were asked to leave the university if they phoned the police”
“Academic tutors told me to ‘pick my battles’ and concentrate on my uni work instead”
“Because I didn’t know if he was doing anything technically wrong, even though I asked him to stop over and over again”
“Because it happens so often I didn’t think I’d be believed”
“I’m doubtful they would have taken it seriously. Rape statistics and poor conviction rates are well known”
“I don’t think the police are interested in smaller incidents of this nature”
“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal and the police must have more serious issues to deal with – this wasn’t worth their time”
“I don’t have faith in the local police force”
“I was scared of not being taken seriously”
“There’s no point, they never get into trouble or face any consequences”
“I was aware of the lack of impact police work was having in regards to harassment in the area – I don’t believe they consider it to be a serious issue that needs tackling”
“I was drunk and worried I might not be able to recognise him again”
“I didn’t think it would accomplish anything and would be nothing but mentally and emotionally taxing”
“My friend did report when it happened to her and they did nothing about it, so there’s no point”
“I blamed myself”
“I didn’t think of it as a criminal offence”
“The campus police told me not to”
“The perpetrators are my friends and I didn’t want to get them into trouble”
“It took me so long to process what had happened I didn’t think I could deal with the added shock of going to the police”
“Because of fear I wouldn’t be believed and the system wouldn’t find him guilty. Court would be a difficult progress and I worried about the implications it could have on my career’
“I was encouraged by the university not to contact the police”
“There’s a lot of crime in this area and even obvious crimes like robbery and muggings don’t get addressed by the police”
“I was worried I’d be wasting police time”
“I’m male, I feel it’s not acceptable to report it”
“I didn’t think there would be enough evidence”
“I didn’t want to ruin his career”
“I was in denial and thought I just had to learn not to take things personally”
“If my own friends don’t believe me, why would the police?”
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.