Sexual assault and rape

  • Sexual assault and rape

    If you or someone you know has been a victim of harassment, sexual assault or rape, support is available.

    Report an incident »

    Contact us

    If you have any questions about the reporting tool or website, please email studentwelfare@brookes.ac.uk

  • Definition

    What is sexual assault? 

    Sexual assault is touching someone without consent where the touching is sexual, this can include but is not limited to unwanted touching and kissing, rubbing, groping or forcing a person to touch another person in sexual ways, catcalling, whistling, non consensual electronic sharing of explicit images, exposure of genitals and secretive viewing of others naked or during sex. Sexual assault can include unwanted touching through clothing or a bedsheet, and can be done with any part of the body or with anything else. 

    What is rape? 

    If a man penetrates another person's vagina, anus or mouth, without their consent or agreement, that's rape. Both men and women can be raped but only men can commit rape. If someone of any gender penetrates another person with any other part of their body or another object, this is assault by penetration but would be treated similarly to rape if taken to court. 

    What is consent? 

    Consent is defined as agreeing and giving permission to interact with another person in any way that would impact on their and your personal boundaries. Consent can never be assumed, even in a relationship or marriage. This is not exclusive to sexual consent and could include, instigating a hug, or a kiss.  

    Consent is comfortable
    A clear “yes”, smiles, responsiveness, reciprocity of affection, “Yes, please”, “Keep going”, etc all indicate consent.  Conversely: “no”, silence, stillness and rigidity, no eye contact, flinching, phrases like “I am not sure”, “I don’t like that”, “Please stop” imply that consent is vanishing, or it’s not present at all.

    Consent is freely given
    Someone who has been threatened, blackmailed or coerced is not free to consent.

    Consent is retractable
    Consent can be withdrawn at any point if one of the parties changes their mind or feels uncomfortable. Crucially, consent to one action is not consent to all actions, so if you want to try something new make sure you get consent.

    Consent is active
     All people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes" or "no" or stop the sexual activity at any point. Someone who is unconscious, asleep or unable to communicate cannot give consent. Equally, alcohol and drugs can significantly impact on someone’s capacity to understand what is happening around them and consent.

    Finally, consent should always be clear
    If you are ever in any doubt about having someone’s consent, you should stop and ask if they are alright.

    Support

    If you or someone you know has been a victim of harassment, sexual assault or rape, support is available. Experiencing any of these types of incidents can be very traumatic and you may experience a range of emotions. There is no ‘normal’ or ‘right way’ to react. 
    Please remember that you are not alone and you are not to blame for what has happened. 

    Are you safe?

    Here are some simple steps you can take to help ensure your safety:

    1. Find somewhere you feel safe.
    2. You might be in shock, so wrap up warm.
    3. Consider telling someone you trust about what happened. If you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone yet, you can call the Thames Valley Independent Sexual Violence Advisory Service for support and to talk to someone confidentially.
    4. Call 999 if you require urgent medical attention.

    Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

    You might also want to consider contacting a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). SARCs provide dedicated support to victims of rape or sexual assault – including providing a confidential space for interviews, examinations and collecting evidence. Some may also offer counselling services. 

    These services are available to women, men and children and are available regardless of whether or not you feel you want to report to the police.

    Thames Valley SARC Bicester

    SOLACE Centre
    Police House
    Queens Avenue
    Bicester
    OX26 2NT

    Tel: 0300 130 3036

    SOLACE Centre »

    Swindon Sanctuary SARC

    The Gables
    Shrivenham Road
    South Marston
    Swindon
    SN3 4RB 

    24 hour helpline: 0808 168 0024 

    Swindon Sanctuary SARC »

    If you want forensic evidence to be collected, time is an important factor. You would normally need to visit a SARC within 72 hours of the incident.

    Anyone can self-refer to a SARC. This means that you can go to the SARC independently and do not have to involve the police, or anyone else if you do not want to. 

    If you self-report in this way, it is up to you whether any evidence which is collected is passed on to the police. If you later decide to report, the evidence will still be at the SARC. 

    Also, if possible, try to take these steps:

    • Do not wash
    • Do not brush your teeth
    • Do not have a cigarette
    • Do not eat or drink
    • Do not change your clothes
    • If you do change your clothes, do not wash them but put them in a clean plastic bag
    • Try not to go to the toilet
    • Do not clear up anything from the area of the incident
    • Don't worry if you have already done some of these things. It's possible that there is still forensic evidence to collect

    Support available at the University 

    Student Welfare Team

    The Student Welfare Team are experienced in supporting students who have experienced harassment, sexual assault or rape, amongst other welfare related support. The team works with students who are having difficulties functioning or continuing their studies for non-academic reasons. They are able to speak with you in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental space and they can support you in finding the appropriate support. 

    When you report an incident with your contact details, the Student Welfare Team will contact you within three working days. 

    OBU Counselling Services

    Tailored support is available to all enrolled Brookes students – of whatever age, gender, religion and beliefs, nationality, ethnic origin, gender identity and sexual orientation. The aim of our Counselling Service is to provide you with the support that we think best suits your needs and is most readily available. To help us do this, we operate a triage ‘assessment of needs’ system, where you may be asked to complete online clinical measures. This helps us assess your needs. 

    Brookes Union Advice Service

    The Brookes Union Advice Service can provide you with independent advice on the options available to you, whether you are thinking about reporting to the police or the university. You can phone them on 01865 484770 or email them at su.advice@brookes.ac.uk

    The opening times can be found on the Brookes Union Advice Services' webpage. 

    Other support available

    Galop, the LGBT+ anti-violence charity

    Galop offer confidential and independent practical advice and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people who have experienced sexual assault, abuse or violence. If you choose to report to the police, they can support you through the criminal justice system. 

    Tel: 020 7704 2040

    Email: referrals@galop.org.uk

    Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC)

    OSARCC offer a free and confidential service to self-identifying women who are dealing with the effects of sexual violence, and to anyone who is supporting them. This includes but is not limited to phone helplines, email advice, support groups and their own dedicated ISVA who works with self-identifying women throughout Oxfordshire. 

    Monday, 18:30 - 21:00
    Thursday, 18:30 - 21:00
    Sunday, 18:00 - 20:30

    Tel:  0800 783 6294 or  01865 726 295

    Email: support@osarcc.org.uk

    Refuge Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs)

    The Thames Valley Independent Sexual Violence Advisory Service supports anyone of any gender identity living in the Thames Valley area who has experienced, or is at risk of experiencing, sexual assault or rape. ISVAs can support you in a variety of ways and are able to personalise their approach when dealing with a wide variety of cases. 

    Tel: 0800 221 8186 (Freephone)

    The telephone service is open 9:00am - 5:30pm, Monday - Friday.

    If you are unable to reach them, you can leave a message, and let them know when would be a safe time to call you back.

    SurvivorsUK

    SurvivorsUK offer a free and confidential service to anyone who identifies as male, trans, non-binary, has identified as male in the past who are dealing with effects of sexual violence, and to anyone who is supporting them. This includes but is not limited to counselling, therapy, online helpline services (Chat to trained professionals, one to one, using their web, SMS or WhatsApp chat services). 

    Chat via SMS: 020 3322 1860

    Chat via Whatsapp: 074 9181 6064

    Online web chat

    Report

    The University takes a zero-tolerance approach to any form of sexual assault, rape and violence and expects all members of the University community to treat each other with dignity and respect. 

    Report online

    If you report an incident with your contact details, the Student Welfare Team will contact you within 3 working days. The team works with students who are having difficulties functioning or continuing their studies for non-academic reasons. They are able to speak with you in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental space and they can support you in finding the appropriate service.

    We understand that you may not wish to disclose your identity, so you also have the option to report anonymously.  Anonymous reports provide statistical information, which will be used to inform our proactive and preventative work on addressing unwanted behaviours across the University community.

    Formal procedures

    If your report involves a staff member

    Please submit a complaint using the Complaints and Appeals Form. In accordance with the Complaints and Appeals Procedures, complaints must be submitted within 2 months of the last claimed act or omission. The Student Disputes Team will confirm receipt of your complaint within 5 working days and you will have the opportunity to discuss the complaint with a Student Disputes Officer.  Details of the procedure can be found on the Student Complaint Procedure pages

    If your report involves other students 

    You will need to initiate the Student Conduct Procedure. In accordance with the Student Conduct Regulations, the procedure must be initiated within 5 working days of the discovery of the potential breach of the Student Conduct Regulations. Examples of behaviours which are regarded as misconduct and time-frames can be found within the Student Conduct Regulations and Procedure.