Sexual violence prevention and support

Content warning: This page contains explicit reference to sexual violence and rape. It does include advice and how to access help.


If you've been the victim of sexual violence or misconduct, whether recently or in the past, support is available to you.

Bath Spa University is committed to taking all steps in our power to prevent and tackle gender based and sexual violence in all its forms - including rape and sexual assault, harassment, stalking or coercive control.

Whether you've experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence yourself, or you're supporting someone who has, you'll find information here about options for support, how to report and how to access further advice and guidance.

We have also recently published an overview of work that Bath Spa University has done and is planning to do to tackle and prevent harassment and sexual violence.

We know it can be very difficult to disclose if you've been raped, sexually assaulted, harassed or abused. We understand there are many barriers and that you'll be experiencing difficult feelings, some of which may be worries about how you'll be treated if you do make a disclosure. This is a distressing time for you, and we are committed to supporting you in any way we can. We encourage you to come forward safe in the knowledge that you will be believed, respected and supported.

How you might be affected

People who have experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or other forms of sexual violence such as stalking, partner violence or coercive control can be affected in many ways and are likely to experience a range of upsetting and painful feelings, which can include confusion and numbness.

We're here to help you

If a student, member of staff or visitor to our campus has experienced any form of sexual violence or harrassment (including online abuse and stalking) we’re here to help.

Here we explain how we will respond and support you if you have been affected or wish to make a disclosure.

We'll also go through the steps you can take during an emergency or crisis situation.

What are my options?

Get urgent help

If you, or someone else is in danger, please call +44 (0)1225 875 555 for on campus Bath Spa University Security, or 999 for emergency services.

If you are on campus and need an ambulance please call 999 and let Bath Spa University Security know on +44 (0)1225 875 555.

If you have recently been assaulted and need immediate support

It's important that you access support quickly, particularly if you feel you need medical attention or you want to report the incident to the Police. If you urgently need to see someone or have physical injuries please see our list of support agencies, visit a Sexual Assault Referral Centre or speak with your GP.

If you can, try to find somewhere you feel safe so you can consider your options. Go to our list of support agencies who can help you both practically and also to help you make the right decisions for you.

You can also submit a report to speak to one of our University Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) within office hours which are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. They can talk to you about support available and discuss possible options. Once you submit the report they will make contact with you within 36 hours to arrange an appointment.

If you want to visit a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

You can make an appointment with your nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) which is The Bridge.

The Bridge is a specialist service made up of a team of experts experienced in caring for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. This includes basic medical attention, forensic examination, emergency contraception, sexual health screening, and advice.

Anyone who is over 13 years old and has been raped or sexually assaulted in the last seven days can visit The Bridge.

It's entirely up to you to decide what services you use and what choices you make at The Bridge. You may wish to have sexual health screening tests but not undergo a forensic examination, or you may choose to have a forensic examination so that evidence of the assault can be collected, but not want to report the incident to the Police. The choice will remain yours throughout the process, and your visit will be entirely confidential.

If you think you may want to make a report, or you might want to in the future, preserving evidence can help the police with their investigation. The Bridge can gather evidence and store it until you have made your decision about informing the police.

To preserve evidence try not to:

  • Use the toilet or discard underwear or sanitary products
  • Wash, shower, bathe or shave
  • Wash your hands
  • Remove, wash, discard or destroy clothing worn, or bedding and towels used at the time of the incident or subsequent to it
  • Drink or eat anything, including non-essential medication
  • Clean your teeth
  • Smoke
  • Disturb the scene or allow other people or animals to enter the area where the incident took place, where possible.

Non-physical evidence, such as relevant texts, social media messages and emails should be preserved.

Talk to someone

I want to talk to someone about my options and/or get support

Student Wellbeing Services have both Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) and Mental Health Practitioners who are trained and experienced in taking disclosures and supporting people who have been affected by sexual violence. They will listen empathically to you without judgement. They will provide you with information on your options if you have been affected by sexual violence in any way, even if it wasn't you that was directly affected.

How do I get support from Student Wellbeing Services or a Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO)?

Online

Complete our short, simple form in our secure Report and Support system.

Reports received are strictly managed with only a small number of staff having access to them. Your report will be reviewed by one of the SVLOs and allocated to a trained SVLO or Mental Health Practitioner. Your information and data will be recorded and managed confidentially and in line with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations and University Privacy Policy. If you would like further information about this please contact SVLO and Deputy Head of Student Wellbeing Services, Bridget Ferguson.

By phone

You can make an appointment with an SVLO or trained Student Wellbeing Services staff member by calling us on +44 (0)1225 876543. You do not have to say what you want to talk about. All you have to give is your name and student number (if you have one).

What will happen during a meeting with an SVLO (or other trained member of SWS staff)?

An SVLO will speak with you either in person, on the phone or by video call depending on what is your preferred option. You are welcome to have a friend, or member of the Students’ Union with you if you wish. However, please be aware that the SVLO cannot speak with any legal representatives.

The role of the SVLO is primarily to listen. They will be empathic, supportive and non-judgmental. They will ask you what you want to happen next and will provide you with information about your options.

The SVLO will take a brief note of the meeting which they will put into a secure electronic report within a password protected system. The notes of the meeting will normally be seen only by you, the SVLO, and their manager (unless the SVLO identifies that you or someone else is at risk of harm). Before the end of the meeting, the SVLO will go over the notes they have taken to ensure you are happy they are accurate. They will also confirm with you any follow up actions which were agreed between those present during the conversation. If you decide to make a complaint to the University, the notes can be shared with the Complaints Manager if that is your wish.

Will my information be kept private?

The SVLO will normally keep the information you disclose confidential and only share securely with their manager. It is important for you to be aware that, if they consider you or any other person to be at risk of harm, they may need to share relevant information beyond Student Wellbeing Services in accordance with the University’s Safeguarding policy.

You are under no obligation to name the other person(s) and will be able to receive guidance on all of your options as well as access to all University and external support if you choose not to. However, if you do choose to name the other person(s) and they are either a University student or staff member, the University will be obliged to take appropriate action to safeguard you and/or members of our community. This is likely to involve speaking to the other person and it may involve disciplinary action being taken.

The same will apply if you name someone who is not a student or member of staff but the information you disclose indicates that you or someone else is at risk of harm. It is rare that the University would inform the police without your explicit consent, but if the level of risk to you or others is sufficiently high, this course of action might be necessary.

If you wish to name the other person but do not want the University to take action you may prefer to engage with an external support agency such as The Bridge or SARSAS. The SVLO will be able to help with this and can refer you to other agencies that can also help.

What happens if I make a disclosure to the SVLO about another student or staff member at the University?

If the SVLO considers they need to refer your case to the University Complaints Officer, Director of Human Resources, or the police, a discussion will normally first be held with you to make you aware that this action will be taken and what you should expect next. This conversation would normally take place between you and the SVLO, with the SVLO’s manager present if necessary.

The SVLO will endeavour to make sure you are happy with the information in your disclosure before it is submitted. They will confirm with you any follow up actions which were agreed between those present during the conversation.

If the other person is a student or member of staff and is deemed to be a risk to you, themselves or others, the SVLO or their manager will discuss your case with the Complaints Manager, or the Director of Human Resources as part of the risk assessment process.

If it is agreed that the case should be investigated under student or staff disciplinary procedures, the Complaints Manager or Director of Human Resources respectively will take over the case. However, the SVLO will normally remain your key contact in terms of organisation of support and referrals to external agencies, unless another contact is specifically requested.

Report an incident of sexual or gender based violence to the University

If you have experienced any form of sexual or gender based violence by another student or a member of University staff, you may wish to report this to the University so it can be investigated under discipline procedures.

The University takes all reports of student and staff misconduct seriously. Details of the University’s disciplinary proceedings for students and staff respectively are available here.

These exist as a framework through which appropriate action can be taken in response.

If you want to report an incident of sexual or gender based violence to the University, you can do this in these ways.

  • Through Report and Support - complete a short, simple and secure form.
  • Directly to Student Complaints, if your disclosure relates to a student

You can email Student Complaints at complaints@bathspa.ac.uk with the details of the incident or to request to meet with a member of their team to make your report.

  • Directly to the Director of Human Resources, if your disclosure relates to a member of staff: a.stone@bathspa.ac.uk. You can submit a report with the details of the incident or request to meet with a member of the HR team to make your report. Mark it for the attention of the Director of Human Resources.
  • By contacting a University Sexual Violence and Liaison Officer (SVLO) and making your disclosure to them: studentwellbeing@bathspa.ac.uk.

You may prefer to do this if you also want to talk about your support options at the same time.

Get more information on contacting a SVLO and what will happen next.

Do I have to name the other person?

It is entirely your choice if you wish to name the other person. You can disclose this to a SVLO (for students), Director of HR (for staff). However, it's important to be aware of what action the University will take if you name the other person to any member of University staff.

You are under no obligation to name the other person and will be able to receive guidance on all of your options as well as access to all University and external support if you choose not to. However, if you do choose to name the other person and they are either a University student or staff member, the University will be obliged to take appropriate action to safeguard you and/or members of our community. This is likely to involve speaking to the other person and it may involve disciplinary action being taken.

The same will apply if you name someone who is not a student or member of staff but the information you disclose indicates that you or someone else is at risk of harm. It is rare that the University would inform the police without your explicit consent, but if the level of risk to you or others is sufficiently high, this course of action might be necessary.

If you wish to name the other person but do not want the University to take action you may prefer to engage with an external support agency such as SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support). The SVLO will be able to help with this and refer you to other agencies that can help.

What happens if I make an anonymous report?

Anonymous reports help us to better understand the broader picture around Gender Based Violence amongst our community and may help to enhance our future work in this area.

You can submit an anonymous report via our secure Report and Support system.

If you choose to submit an anonymous report please be aware that no action can be taken, nor advice provided on behalf of an anonymous report. However, if you do choose to name the other person in any of the free text areas and they are either a University student or staff member, the University will be obliged to take appropriate action to safeguard you and/or members of our community, in accordance with the Safeguarding Policy and Procedure (.pdf).

The student complaint and disciplinary process

When the University receives a report of sexual violence or misconduct about one of its students, this will be investigated in line with the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Procedure for Students. This sets out the detailed trauma-informed procedure that will be followed.

The staff complaint and disciplinary process

When the University receives a report of sexual violence or misconduct about one of its staff members, this will be investigated in line with the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Procedure for Staff. This sets out the detailed trauma-informed procedure that will be followed.

Report an incident of sexual violence or harrassment to the police

If you have experienced sexual violence, whether recently or in the past, you may choose to report what has happened to the police. In England, definitions of rape and sexual assault are provided by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

If you want to report a crime directly to the police directly, you can call the police non-emergency number 101. If it is an emergency dial 999 and advise that you need to report a sexual assault and would like to speak to one of their specially trained officers. If you would prefer to initially speak to a police officer somewhere other than your place of residence, you can ask for this when you call.

Useful resources

You can find some useful self help resources to support you through this difficult experience:

  • The Survivor Pathway offer sexual violence support services within Bath and Nort-East Somerset.
  • The Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Service has an excellent Self Help Guide
  • The Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Assault has a number of guides available, also available in other languages.

You can also speak to an external agency to get support. There are several specialist organisations within the area who can support you:

  • The Bridge - A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
  • SARSAS - Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Safelink - Provides independent support for anyone (women, men, children) who has been the victim of rape and sexual abuse across the whole of Avon and Somerset area, and have a dedicated worker for Bath Spa University students.

Contact Student Wellbeing Services

Email: studentwellbeing@bathspa.ac.uk
Call: +44 (0)1225 876543

Our services are accessible Monday to Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm.

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