- Providing a definition of sexual violence and misconduct, along with examples of inappropriate behaviour
- Outlining the support available to students
- Explaining the choices available to you if you have experienced any form of SVM.
Frequently asked questions
What is SVM?
SVM is defined by the University as any unwanted sexual act or activity, or series of acts or activities, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment. It includes any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion or manipulation, such as sexual exploitation and sexual intimidation.
What does consent mean and how do I know I have it?
Consent is defined by section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Someone consents to a sexual act only if s/he agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, e.g.to penetration with conditions, such as wearing a condom. Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs. Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault.
As part of preventing harassment and misconduct, we want to support all our students
to learn about consent and communicating about boundaries. As a starting point, try the University’s Disclosure and Consent eLearning course.
Is harassment and/or stalking classed as SVM?
Yes, SVM is not just rape or sexual assault. Stalking and harassment may include behaviours that cause you to fear that violence might be used against you and are both forms of SVM therefore are included within the SVM policy.
What should I do if I witness SVM?
In the event of a third party (e.g. another student/a friend) disclosing an incident of SVM on behalf of someone else, this person will be advised about the options for reporting and available support and we will support this person to help the victim/survivor access this information.
Ultimately if the victim/survivor does not want to access support or make a report, this is their choice.
Students should report SVM using our online reporting tool, Speak Up, which has the option to report anonymously or on behalf of someone else.
Many of our students
want to know how to support a friend who may have experienced
harassment or misconduct. Find out how you can be a great friend and
effective bystander by completing the University’s Bystander Intervention
How do I report an incident of sexual violence and misconduct?
Students should report SVM using our online reporting tool, Speak Up, which has the option to report anonymously.
Once a report has been made, the reporting student (if they give their name) will be contacted within three working days by someone from Student Services.
If the reporting student wants to make a report but does not want any further action, such as an investigation, we will put into place support for the student. The primary focus will be to support the student so that they can carry on with their studies. The only instance we might take action without the reporting student’s consent is where there is a safeguarding or a ‘Fitness to Practise’ concern.
If the student wishes, they may report the incident to the police, regardless of whether they want to report to the University. A decision not to report to the police does not prejudice any university response to a student report.
Will the other student be told that I have raised a complaint against them?
Consent is requested from any reporting student or witness before their statement/allegations are put to the responding student. So your name will not be disclosed to the responding student without your consent.
There may be times when a reporting student and/or witness gives consent to take a complaint forward but wishes to remain anonymous. This does not mean that the complaint won’t be taken forward as there may be instances where a piece of evidence is sufficient to take forward an anonymous complaint or witness statement, for example a screen shot of a group chat.
What if I don’t want to report an incident?
Ultimately if a victim/survivor does not want make a report, this is their choice. Disclosing an experience of SVM will likely be incredibly difficult. Barriers to disclosure include fear, shame, disbelief, denial, thinking they won’t be believed or being unaware that SVM has occurred. Taking the step to disclose SVM takes courage, resilience and bravery and we will always listen to people who make disclosures and offer them support.
A student can disclose SVM but not make a formal report. They may still access support from university services. A member of staff receiving a disclosure will not make a named report or instigate an onward referral without the student’s consent, except where concerns about safeguarding or ‘Fitness to Practise’ arise, in which cases members of staff may have a professional duty to make a formal report and the student will be made aware of this before action is taken.
What is a SARC?
A Sexual Assault Referral Centre, known as a SARC, is a place where anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted can go for specialist medical and forensic services. A rape or assault may leave visible or forensic evidence, and while preserving evidence may be the last thing on your mind in the aftermath of an attack, if you are able to go to a sexual assault referral centre (SARC), they should be able to provide specialist medical and forensic services free of charge for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted. You can find a SARC near you: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/.
If you make a police report they will usually refer you to a SARC as it is important to preserve evidence as soon as possible after the incident however any evidence taken will be kept for two years and you are under no obligation to report to the University or make a formal report to the police if you visit a SARC.
Can the University still take action if the police are not taking the case forward?
If your assailant is a fellow student or staff member, you can report them to the University, since their conduct will be a breach of the student or staff code of conduct. Just because the police are not taking the case forward does not prejudice any University response to a student report. The University has the power to impose a range of sanctions on a student or staff member who has breached its code of conduct, including suspension, exclusion or dismissal, and campus access and contact restrictions.
Some people feel strongly about reporting misconduct to their University, because they fear a repeat of the misconduct, either towards themselves or others, or because they want the incident formally acknowledged and some action taken.
Is there a time limit on making a report?
Experiencing SVM can be very harmful and students may not initially recognise this harm, or may need to wait some time before making a formal report. Because of this, there is no time limit within the university for making a report of SVM, and we encourage students to report (either anonymously or with their name), to help us keep other students and staff safe. It is important to note that some legal avenues open to victims/survivors do have time limits.
What support does the University offer?
The University of Plymouth offers a range of support services for students including:
- Mental health and counselling: students can complete an online referral form for support.
- Pastoral and spiritual support: drop-in to 1 Kirkby Place between 10:00–16:00 Monday to Friday, for some quiet time or an informal conversation.
- Speak Up: Students can report SVM using our online reporting tool, which has the option to report anonymously or on behalf of someone else. Once a report has been made, the reporting student (if they give their name) will be contacted within three working days by someone from Student Services.
- Students can also access a wide range of wellbeing resources and details of available support services on the Student Portal.
- For any other wellbeing support or non-academic queries, perhaps about disability, funding, immigration and anything else, students can contact the Student Hub via phone 01752 587676 or email email@example.com.
- For academic queries, perhaps about your studies or applying for extenuating circumstances (ECs), then contact your faculty, tutor or relevant school office.
What external support is available?
There are also a range of specialised external support services that anyone can access including:
- Togetherall students don’t have to come and speak to our staff, they can access mental health support online by registering for free.
- The University Medical Centre which has professionals available to support students, more information (including registration) is online or students can visit the Medical Centre (located in the Wellbeing Centre) on campus.
- The Students Union Advice Centre
- First Light for anyone wanting to access support following domestic abuse or sexual violence.
- Rape crisis who can signpost to local services.
- Domestic Abuse Counselling
- Women’s Aid support for female victims/survivors of domestic abuse.
- Survivors UK a charity dedicated to supporting male survivors of sexual abuse and rape.
- Operation Emotion a charity dedicated to supporting male survivors of sexual abuse.
- Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service
- Victim Support Independent, free, confidential support and advice for anyone affected by crime, directly or indirectly, regardless of whether or not it was reported to the police - 24/7 support line 0808 1689 111.
- The Intercom Trust a LGBT+ charity providing advocacy and support, visit the website or call the free confidential helpline 0800 612 6010.
- If you need immediate help call 999, or if on campus, contact campus security 24/7 on 01752 588400. For non-emergencies call 101 for police support or 111 for medical support. Further information on support in times of crisis.
The Good Consent Guide
Read the guidePublished by the Devon and Cornwall Police the Good Consent Guide tells you all you need to know about something that really matters.
Consent Collective TV
Information about consent, sex, gender, sexual harassment and relationships, free for all students and staff to access.
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