Sexual misconduct or assault are never okay. We condemn unacceptable behaviour, including all forms of harassment under the Equality Act 2010 and criminal law.
Sexual misconduct is a form of harassment and is unacceptable behaviour of a sexual nature. It can include: sexual harassment; sexual violence; intimate partner violence; sexual assault; grooming; coercion or bullying with sexual elements; sexual invitations and demands; comments; non-verbal communication; creation of atmospheres of discomfort; and promised resources or advancement in exchange for sexual access.
The term ‘sexual harassment’ captures only some of the possible abuses of power that may occur. Sexual misconduct more specifically raises issues of unequal relationships, consent, and the prevention of equal access to education, opportunities and career progression.
Sexual assault is a criminal offence and contrary to the university's values and policies. A person commits sexual assault if they intentionally touch another person, the touching is sexual and the person does not consent.
It involves all unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature and ranges from pinching, embracing, groping and kissing, to rape and sexual assault which involves penetration without consent.
Consent is agreeing by choice and having the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
A person is free to make a choice if nothing bad would happen to them if they said no.
Capacity is about whether someone is physically and/or mentally able to make a choice and to understand the consequences of that choice.
Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome words, conduct, or behaviour of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, embarrassing, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient. It is a misuse of personal or institutional power and often based on a person’s gender although it is rarely about sexual desire.
For the purpose of this policy whether or not the harasser intended to be offensive is irrelevant. The limit of acceptable behaviour as described by this policy is up to the recipient to decide. A single incident or persistent behaviour can amount to harassment.
Sexual harassment can range from behaviour that stems from obvious to anyone or subtler behaviour less obvious to either the person responsible for the behaviour or to the recipient. Often the impact is not felt or witnessed immediately. The impact may go beyond the recipient to people who see or hear what happens or who try to offer support.
Sexual harassment can include but is not limited to: catcalling, following, making unnecessary and unwanted physical contact, sexual jokes and comments, giving unwelcome personal gifts, wolf-whistling, leering, derogatory comments, unwelcome comments about a person’s body or clothing, unwelcome questions about a person’s sex life and/or sexuality, engaging in unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations and flirtation, making somebody feel uncomfortable through displaying or sharing sexual material. Sexual harassment does not necessarily occur face to face and can be in the form of emails, visual images (such as sexually explicit pictures on walls in a shared environment), social media, telephone, text messages and image based sexual abuse, such as revenge porn and upskirting.
What can you do?
- Are they in immediate danger? If they are in immediate danger or seriously injured, you can call 999 (or 112 from a mobile).
- Find a safe space. If an incident has just happened try and find somewhere they feel safe.
- 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.
- If someone you know has been affected, you can encourage them to seek support. Alternatively you make an anonymous disclosure which will allow us to investigate if there are multiple instances in one area.
- Give options. When they have finished talking ask them if they are okay to talk through some possible options and next steps.
- Report and Get Support. An advisor can talk through the University's procedures and what support is available, in confidence. Advisors can talk to someone who is experiencing something, or someone who is supporting that person.
- University Procedure. Reporting via Report and Support does not necessarily initiate a formal investigative process, but will allow an appropriate member of staff to contact you to speak to you about the options available to you, and the steps we may take as a University. The information you provide in this report will only be shared with relevant members of staff on a need-to-know basis.
(Based on the Samaritans guidelines for active listening)