Sexual Violence

If you have experienced sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault or harassment, we recognise it can be difficult to speak about what happened and how it has affected you, but we would encourage you to talk to someone and seek support.

Please remember:

  • What happens next is your choice.
  • You can access support and information by contacting ‘Tell Someone’ or through the UAL Counselling Service. We will listen to you and support you to make decisions that are right for you.
  • You can choose to report directly to the police and / or to the University.
  • You can access independent support from Rape Crisis, Survivors UK, Havens Centres and a range of other external services.

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different forms of sexual violence, including but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape within marriage / relationships, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour-based violence’, female genital mutilation, trafficking, sexual exploitation, ritual abuse, and image based sexual abuse (including so called ‘revenge porn’).

Sexual violence can be committed by a complete stranger, but more often it’s by someone known and even trusted, such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. It can happen to anyone. No-one ever deserves it or asks for it to happen, it can never be justified, it can never be explained away and there is no context in which it is acceptable. 

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwanted behaviour which is of a sexual nature and which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person. The following behaviours may constitute sexual harassment:

  • Sexual comments, whistling, catcalling, sexual innuendo, offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks 
  • Spreading rumours about a person’s sex life
  • Asking for sexual favours
  • Displaying pictures of a sexual nature,
  • Sending or displaying material that is pornographic or that some people may find offensive (including e-mails, text messages, video clips and images sent by mobile phone or posted on the internet)
  • Repeatedly following, watching, and spying
  • Making unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour
  • Inappropriately showing sexual organs to another person
  • Sharing intimate images or recordings of another person without their consent
  • Inappropriate or unwanted physical contact, including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, and more serious forms of non-consensual physical or sexual acts.

Urgent support and advice

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, try to remember that it is not your fault, you are not to blame, and you are not alone. 

  • Try to be somewhere that feels safe
  • You might be in shock so try to keep warm
  • See if a friend or someone you trust can be with you
  • Talk to someone about what happened.

Key contacts

Additional considerations 

If you have just been raped or sexually assaulted and are thinking of undergoing a forensic medical examination at The Havens you may be asked to avoid smoking, brushing your teeth, showering, eating, drinking, urinating or defecating as this may affect the evidence that can be gathered. Do not worry if you have done any of these things as the most important thing is doing what feels best for you during this time.

More information on what to do if you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted recently is available on the Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre website.

Support at UAL

Support 

If you have been affected by sexual violence you may be concerned about a number of practical matters, as well as the impact on your health and wellbeing. There is a range of support available at UAL, we also work with external agencies who provide specialist support.

The Head of Counselling and Student Health co-ordinates support for students who have experienced sexual violence. You can meet with her, or a member of her team to talk about what has happened, and what support you might need. Examples of support include:

  • Emotional and psychological support
  • Support with accessing specialist agencies or attending a Havens Centre
  • Practical support, for example, if you want to move accommodation
  • Adjustments to study or extenuating circumstances
  • Support to help you feel safe, for example, if you are worried about coming into contact with the perpetrator
  • Support with considering your options and what to do next, including reporting to the police or requesting a university investigation

If you have already reported the incident to the police, the Head of Counselling and Student Health can advise on next steps in regards to the university’s procedures.

Contact details

UAL Counselling Service

Counselling is an opportunity to talk, in private, to a trained professional from outside of one’s day-to-day life. All members of the team are trained to support people who have experienced trauma, including harassment and sexual violence. Counselling can help students to:

  • Re-establish a sense of safety and personal agency
  • Understand yourself, your experiences and your situation
  • Develop ways of caring for yourself

The Counsellor will listen to you and will give you time to talk about what has happened. Where necessary, Counsellors can assist you to access other forms of support at UAL or through specialist agencies.

Find out more about the UAL Counselling Service

Contact:

Students’ Union Advice Service

The Students’ Union Advice Service offers free, confidential, impartial advice to all UAL students. Advisers can support you with questions relating to extenuating circumstances, student complaints and a range of other issues.

Contact:

External support services

There are a range of organisations which provide independent, confidential advice and support for people who have experienced sexual violence. You can access these services via the contact details below. 

  • Rape Crisis National Helpline
    A helpline for female survivors of rape and sexual abuse, open every day between 12pm - 2.30pm and 7pm - 9.30pm and then additionally 3pm - 5.30pm Monday to Friday. Tel: 0808 802 999.
  • Rape Crisis
    Rape Crisis provides information on how to get help if you've experienced rape, child sexual abuse and/or any kind of sexual violence, and details of your nearest Rape Crisis services. 
  • The Havens Centres
    The Havens are specialist centres in London for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. For urgent advice / appointments call 020 3299 6900. 
  • Survivors UK
    Support for male survivors of rape and sexual abuse. 
  • Galop Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.  
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline 
    Women can call 0808 2000 247, the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline  Men can call the Men's Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm).
  • Southall Black Sisters provides information, advice, advocacy, practical help, counselling and support to women and children experiencing domestic and sexual violence, including forced marriage and so called ‘honour crimes’. Tel: 020 8571 0800.
  • Samaritans is a telephone, email and visitor service for anyone experiencing emotional distress. Tel: 116 123 (24-hour confidential listening service - call them for an immediate response) or email jo@samaritans.org (emails will be replied to within 24 hours).
  • Nightline can help if you find yourself worrying about things at night and you would like to talk to another student confidentially. This is available every night of term 6pm - 8am. Tel: 0207 630101.

The services listed above are independent from UAL.

Reporting an incident

You can report incidents of sexual harassment or violence to UAL, to the police or to both. It is important that it is your decision to report and you have not been pressured into it.

Reporting to the police

There is no time limit on reporting rape or sexual assault, you can go to the police at any time after the crime has taken place. However, if the incident happened recently there may be evidence such as DNA that would be useful to an investigation. This evidence can be gathered at Sexual Assault Referral Centres called The Havens. The Metropolitan Police website provides further information on reporting to the police.

If you are thinking of reporting to the police, you can access confidential support from an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA). ISVAs are independent from the police, and can provide practical and emotional support, helping you to make informed decisions that feel right for you. 

Rape Crisis South London has produced a series of short films explaining the police, the court system and the support available from Rape Crisis. 

Reporting an incident to UAL

When you report a matter of sexual harassment or violence to the University we will be guided by you, and the information you provide, in considering next steps. By reporting an incident to the University you are not committing yourself to any particular course of action. You do not have to rush into any decisions, you can take time to think about what will work best for you. 

The best way to report is through the ‘Tell Someone’ online form, you can also contact us by email or phone if you have any questions or concerns. 

When you contact 'Tell Someone' a  member of staff will get in touch with you to set up an appointment and discuss next steps. During this appointment you may want to: 

  • Discuss the support available and how to access it.   
  • Discuss adjustments that could be made to support your wellbeing and safety, including arranging extenuating circumstances or changes to accommodation. 
  • Discuss the option of reporting to the police. If you report an incident to the police we will also follow their advice about what further action can be taken.
  • Consider whether you would like the incident to be investigated by the University and how this may work. Further guidance on the University’s approach to investigating allegations made against students or staff members can be found lower down on this page.

Record keeping: With your agreement, a brief record of your report will be made by the member of staff. This will be stored confidentially and will not be connected to your student record.  

Confidentiality: Any information you share with the University will be treated as confidential. There may be circumstances when we are required by law to disclose information that you have shared, for example, if you are in immediate danger, or if a child or vulnerable adult is at risk. If this is the case, we will always give a full and frank explanation for why this is necessary before doing so.

Support for LGBTQ+ students

UAL support services are committed to empowering and supporting LGBTQ+ students. Staff will treat you with respect and sensitivity and will not make assumptions based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. If you want to speak to a member of staff who identifies as LGBTQ+ we will try to accommodate this wherever possible.   

The LGBTQ Foundation offer a range of resources for LGBTQ+ survivors, you can also access specialist advice and support from Galop.

Sexual violence abroad

If the incident happened in another country and you are still there, in addition to the support services listed above, you can contact the local British Consulate or Embassy for assistance, including medical and legal help.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office leaflet Rape and sexual assault abroad  provides more information. Also see the Rape Crisis Network Europe website for information about specialist support services in other European countries. 

University investigation procedures

UAL treats all reports of sexual violence and harassment seriously and with utmost sensitivity. Where a student or member of staff is alleged to have committed harassment or violence, this may be investigated under the following procedures:

Students may choose to report sexual violence to the police. In these circumstances the university would seek advice from the police about what further action can be taken. The University can put in place a range of measures to support and protect the safety of students during this time.

In accordance with the procedures listed above, a student or staff member who is alleged to have committed sexual violence or harassment may be suspended for a period of time, or may be required to agree to certain restrictions whilst a University or police investigation is underway. Such measures will be put in place in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of those involved and will be reviewed at regular points.  

The University’s disciplinary process is separate from criminal law matters, and our misconduct offences are distinct from criminal offences. The purpose of a University investigation is to identify whether a student or staff member has breached University rules or regulations. If, as a result of an investigation, a person is found to have committed misconduct, there are a range of sanctions that can be applied, including formal warnings, requiring a person to agree to certain standards of behaviour in the future, or permanent exclusion / dismissal.  

Contact:

You are encouraged to speak to a member of staff to discuss your particular circumstances, the support available and what you might want to do next. You can do this through ‘Tell Someone’ or by contacting Mark Crawley, the Dean of Students directly on M.Crawley@arts.ac.uk

Information for students who have been accused of sexual violence

UAL will provide all students with equal access to appropriate, confidential support. If the University undertakes an investigation into sexual violence or harassment, both the reporting and the reported party will be offered support through the investigation process.  

Support at UAL

You can access confidential one-to-one support through the UAL Counselling Service. If the reporting party is also a UAL student, different staff members will support each person individually. You can also access guidance on the University's Disciplinary and Complaints procedure through the Students’ Union Advice Service.

External support

Anyone who needs confidential help with their own behaviour can contact Respect on their free helpline 0808 802 4040.