Blog: Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault

CW: Discussion of sexual assault and rape

Last year, the SU ran their One In Three campaign, to highlight the fact that one in three women students will experience sexual assault at university. Much of the campaign’s focus was on ways in which the culture of sexual assault and harassment on campus can be challenged.

This is a huge issue, and not one that can be solved overnight. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, and knowing where you can find help and support whilst at university is important.

As Women’s Representative, some of the feedback I have received from students has highlighted the need for readily available resources for survivors of sexual assault. I have compiled a list of the support available at the University and in the local area, and how to access it:

Immediate help

If you are in immediate danger, contact the Police (999 for emergency/ 101 for non-emergency). If you are on campus, it's important to also contact College Security (01784 443888 emergency/ 01784 443063 non-emergency) so that they can help direct the emergency services to you as quickly as possible.

Try to get to a safe location as quickly as possible, with someone you trust, so that you can decide what to do next.

Advice from Surrey Police on how to protect yourself and others can be found here.

Reporting incidents

It is up to you whether you report an incident of sexual assault or rape. You may decide to report to the police. While there is no time limit on reporting incidents, it is important to bear in mind that early reporting means that any forensic evidence can be collected which may be helpful later on.

When you contact Surrey Police, a member of the Sexual Offences Investigation Team (SOIT) will be assigned to you. You will also most likely be referred to the Solace Centre, based at Cobham Hospital, which is a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. There, they can conduct medical examinations, and offer further support.

Alternatively, you can refer yourself to the Solace Centre without police involvement - 01932 867 581 (9am-5pm) / 0300 130 3038 (24/7 Helpline) / surrey.sarc@nhs.net.

The RASASC Guildford can also offer advice about reporting through an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA). Again, this is independent of the police. Their contact details are: 01483 546400 (7:30pm-9:30pm, Monday-Thursday).

The College has more detailed information about reporting incidents available here.

Further support

There is longer-term emotional support available on campus, and through external organisations/charities.

The college Wellbeing team can give you information about the support available. They can be contacted by email: wellbeing@royalholloway.ac.uk.

If you would like to access the College Counselling service to make an appointment, you can do so by contacting counselling@royalholloway.ac.uk / 01784 443128.

If you feel that you would benefit from therapy, Berkshire Talking Therapies may be helpful. You can refer yourself to them by contacting 0300 365 2000 / talkingtherapies@berkshire.nhs.uk.

If you wish to speak to someone about any issues you are facing as a result of sexual assault, there are a number of independent organisations who can offer support.

London Nightline is a service specifically for students, they run a nightline from 6pm-8am during term-time, contactable on 020 7631 0101.

Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116 123.

For more specific support for survivors of sexual violence, Safeline has a specific hotline for male survivors of sexual assault, contactable on 0808 800 5005. Rape Crisis England & Wales have a hotline for female survivors: 0808 802 9999 (12:30pm-2:30pm, 7pm-9:30pm daily). There is also Galop, a charity specifically for LGBT+ victims of crime - they can offer advice about services and support available (usually based in London) on 020 7704 2040.

A full list of your nearest specialist Rape Crisis services can be found here.

Sophie Bury // Women's Representative