If you think someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are lots of ways in which you can help them. 

If someone has been sexually assaulted their reactions can vary. They may be afraid, angry or have no outward reaction at all. They might even act in ways that seem unusual to you, even laughing at seemingly inappropriate times.

Disclosures can come in many forms – it could be something said jokingly, a story that someone starts to tell then stops and says it doesn't matter, or it could be a question. You are not expected to be a professional counsellor, but how someone responds to a first disclosure can be really important. It can take time for a person to decide what they want to do and how they want to move forward. 

Steps to take immediately

  • Are they in immediate danger? If they are in immediate danger or seriously injured, call 999.
  • Finding a safe space. If possible, try and find somewhere you feel safe.

On campus

if you feel unsafe or need help you can call security on 0114 225 8888.

Off campus

A number of pubs and bars in Sheffield are part of the Ask Angela Campaign

If you need to get home or somewhere else safely, use the Safe Taxi Scheme.

  • Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The most important thing is to respond in a way that maximises your friend’s control over what happens next. You can simply ask them what they need or want. They might not make the same decision you would, but only they can decide what’s best for them. You can help them explore options, but avoid telling them what they should do.
  • Seek medical care. If someone has experienced sexual violence, even if there are no obvious injuries or they don’t want to report an assault to the police, it is important to seek medical attention if the assault just happened. If they want to speak to a medical professional and are registered with the Student Health Centre they can book an appointment on 0114 225 2134.

Talk

  • Listen. Just taking the time to listen to someone and talk about what has happened can help. These six active listening tips might help you support them.
  • Give options. When they have finished talking ask them if they are ok to talk through some possible options and next steps. Remember, it is important that they decide what they want to do.

Report

  • Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) They can speak to specially trained members of student wellbeing team. We can help them to go through options, including reporting the incident to police, to the university, or to access medical and emotional support only and make no formal report.

    To speak to a SVLO, they can report with personal details and will be contacted to arrange an appointment. Students and staff can also report an incident anonymously
  • Reporting to the police (999 for emergency and 101 for non-emergency). If they are thinking of reporting to the police, Rape Crisis have produced a useful list of things to think about.
  • Reporting the incident anonymously. They can report online to Crimestoppers or call 0800 555 111.
  • Report the incident through University disciplinary processes. A sexual violence liaison officer can help you make a report to the disciplinary team.

    If you choose to name a member of staff or a student in your report, there are procedures which set out the actions the university may take. This may include carrying out conduct investigations.

    When you report an allegation of misconduct to the University, we have a dedicated team who will consider your allegation and liaise with you regarding next steps. It is likely that you will be invited to meet with one of the team to discuss your allegation in detail to establish the details of the matter. We do this using student regulations and policies such as the Disciplinary Regulations for students and the Student Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedure which are available on shuspace.

    The full range of possible sanctions is available in section 48 of the Disciplinary Regulations.
  • Report to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)Hackenthorpe Lodge is the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Sheffield. They are here to help if a person has experienced sexual violence and/or sexual abuse.

You can call them on 0330 223 0938, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. They will aim to see you within 90 minutes for an urgent forensic medical examination. It is best to visit them as soon as possible after an incident.

The medical and emotional support services are confidential. They will not tell anyone you’ve contacted or seen them unless you want them to. You can use any of their services without involving the police.

Remember

  • They might not want to report the assault to the police or the university. There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose not to report sexual violence.
  • In most cases of sexual assault, the offender is known to the victim.
  • They might be concerned that people won’t believe them or may not identify what occurred as a sexual assault
  • They may be concerned who else might be informed.
  • They may have fear of or confusion about the criminal justice system or what happens if you report it to the University.
  • If drugs or alcohol were involved, they may choose not to report because they are worried they will get in trouble as well.
  • It is up to them to decide what they want to disclose and to whom. Your support can help them talk through their concerns.
  • Let them know that you believe them and support their decisions.
  • Remind them that no one, regardless of relationship or status, has the right to hurt them and that no matter what, it is not their fault that this occurred.
  • Connect them with resources that can help them understand what happens if you report to the police and or the University.

Things to avoid

  • Just saying "it’s not your fault" (without listening to the survivor's story)
  • Using key ‘catchphrases’ or common sayings – e.g. “it will all be better with time"
  • Probing for details. Let them tell you what has happened in their own time
  • Blaming them – e.g. “what were you wearing?” and “were you drinking?” or “did you text him to come over?”
  • Showing disgust or shock
  • Smirking and showing obvious disbelief
  • "Why didn’t you say straight away? Why are you only coming forward now?"
  • Trivialising the experience – “it was only a bit of fumbling”

Support

If you think you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted there are a variety of support options available. You have the right to choose which support options you wish to access. 

You can:

Go to A&E. Call 999 and request an ambulance.

  • Report to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Hackenthorpe Lodge is the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Sheffield. They are here to help if a person has experienced sexual violence and/or sexual abuse.

You can call them on 0330 223 0938, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an initial assessment. They will aim to see you within 90 minutes for an urgent forensic medical examination. It is best to visit them as soon as possible after an incident.

The medical and emotional support services are confidential. They will not tell anyone you’ve contacted or seen them unless you want them to. You can use any of their services without involving the police.

Sheffield Hallam support for students

  • Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) You can speak to specially trained members of student wellbeing team. We can help you to go through your options, including reporting the incident to police, to the university, or to access medical and emotional support only and make no formal report.

    To speak to a SVLO, please report with personal details and you will be contacted to arrange an appointment.
  • Security is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week for your protection. If there is an emergency on campus, please contact 0114 225 8888.
  • Student Union Advice Centre The Students' Union provides a confidential, non-judgemental and free service available to all Sheffield Hallam Students. It is independent from the university, so issues with the advice service will not appear on your file without your consent.

    The advice team provides specialist advice and support on academic issues such as concerns about your university experience, formal complaints and appeals, disciplinary hearings and academic misconduct investigations.
  • Student Support Advisers You have an allocated Student Support Adviser who can give advice around academic, course and welfare issues and signpost you to helpful services in the University.

Sheffield Hallam support for staff

  • Staff wellbeing. The University's staff wellbeing pages link to a range of support services, including staff counselling.
  • Trade unions. Sheffield Hallam recognises UNISON, UNITE, UCU and GMB. Search for trade unions on the staff intranet for more information about contacts and how to join.
  • Line management. You can report what has happened to your line manager if you feel able to do this.

Other sources of support

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