Oxford Against Sexual Violence banner. Credits: University of Oxford
Oxford Against Sexual Violence banner. Credits: University of Oxford

What you can expect from Oxford’s Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service

Amelia Hartley is the University’s first dedicated specialist caseworker for the Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service; providing a safe place for students to be heard and receive free support and advice. In this piece, Amelia explains her role and how she supports students at Oxford.

About me 

joined the University at the start of the 2021 academic year, it’s a new full-time position to directly support survivors who have experienced sexual harassment and violence. I provide initial support, information, and guidance to help students find the best option for them based on their own experience. I also work closely with the University’s Independent Sexual Advisor from the Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC)with us each looking after number of students that we directly support.  

How I can help 

I am particularly focused on working in areas of domestic and relationship abuse and peer abuse and I’m vigilant around Freshers’ events and vacation periods, which can be peak times for abuse to occur, both online and in-person. Ultimately, I’m here to support all students at the University to come forward, whatever their experience and whenever it happened.  

What to expect from an appointment  

Typically, I see one-two students per day for around 90 minutes, which allows me to focus fully on what they need out of this introductory session. I guide the individual through their options and arrange follow-up session if the student choosesThere’s never any pressure to take a particular path or report after we meet. It’s very much about listening and letting them know what their options are, without judgement.  

Each appointment is completely lead by the student, there’s no pressure whatsoever to share or disclose what has happened and we don’t even need to know. I am guided by the student on how much they want to say or choose to do next, if anything. We can advise on reporting procedures and how this might vary from the University to a student’s college and the potential outcomes.  

When your studies are being affected  

We can also support students who feel their academic life is being impactedWe work with Tutors where appropriate to ensure students feel supported to continue with student life at Oxford. We work to alleviate any pressure students may feel and focus on what is needed then and there, whether that’s support with academic life, sleep, eating well and general self-care 

Additional support  

In cases where further therapeutic support is identified to be helpful, longer-term mental health support can be arranged through the Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre or we can signpost to other services such as the University’s Counselling Service and supportive groups and resources.  

We will believe you 

Most importantly, we will always believe students who come to us. What has happened is not their fault, they are not responsible for anyone else’s behaviour or actions, and we will not judge them. The Service remains completely confidential unless there is a significant risk of harm to the student or others.  

Looking to the future 

The Service aims to challenge how sexual violence is treated, recognising it as a crime and working across other areas of the University and local partners to help incite change. 

We continue to strive to make our services as accessible as possible to ensure we can help all students who have experienced sexual harassment or violence, in any form and at any time. 

You can find out more about the Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service on the Oxford Students website or to make an appointment, contact supportservice@admin.ox.ac.uk  

The Support Service is part of Oxford Against Sexual Violence, a joint campaign between the University and Oxford University’s student union, Oxford SU, sending a clear message that sexual harassment and violence of any form is never acceptable. 

For any students concerned about their own behaviour, the University’s Consent Matters course and the Respect Phoneline can help.