Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service | University of Oxford
Here for you
Here for you

Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service

If you have experienced sexual harassment and violence in any form, we are here for you - whoever you are, whatever has happened, and whenever it was.

Who we are  

The Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service is an all-in-one provision for any students regardless of age or gender who have been affected by sexual harassment or violence. We provide free support and advice, along with a safe place to be heard independent of your college or department.

We support students in all situations, whether the experiences of sexual harassment or violence happened in Oxford or elsewhere, and whether it was recent or in the past. 

We will support you at your pace and will help you to explore your options, and we’ll be here to support you whatever you choose to do.

What we do

We are specially trained in responding to incidents of sexual harassment and violence. We offer a response that is non-judgemental, non-directive and puts you in control of what happens next.

When you come to speak to one of the team we'll provide a confidential and quiet space to speak and a cup of coffee (or other drink). You can share as much or as little as you would like or feel able to.

We listen to what has been going on, and will go through all of the options that are specific to you. The options fall broadly into four categories:

  • Immediate health needs
  • Reporting options - to college, university, or police
  • Therapeutic support options
  • Practical support - managing impact on your academic work, keeping you safe and feeling safe

We'll talk through each of these with you and whatever options you want to pursue we'll be here to support you to put these in place.

The team

The support service is run by a team of three highly trained specialist advisors and an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA). We have female and male advisors and we will do our best to ensure that you can see someone you feel comfortable talking to.

Specialist advisors

Who are our specialist advisors?

Our team of specialist advisors provide a pro-active and non-directive emotional and practical support service to any students at the University of Oxford who have been affected by sexual violence, both recently or in the past.

How can the specialist advisors support you?

The support and advice we give is tailored to your individual needs and what you want, for example, if you are not interested in reporting then we won't explore this with you. 

We can (a non-exhaustive list):

  • Listen to your story
  • Help you explore the options that are available to you and support you to make an informed decision about what you would like to do next
  • Explore and explain reporting options, through the University or the Police
  • Explain the University’s or college policies and procedures relating to sexual misconduct
  • Take formal disclosures or accounts of incidents, that can be used in reporting processes to avoid you having to tell your story again
  • Explore whether therapeutic support options would be helpful for you
  • Look at managing impact on your academic work, helping you feel on top of your studies
  • Look at reporting and support you through any formal process
  • Provide guidance and support on extensions or mitigating circumstances for exams or assessed work
  • Liaise and work with your college or department to implement support or plans
  • Signpost you to specialist provision, and assist you in accessing these (e.g. by helping you complete a referral form)
  • Help develop plans for keeping you safe and feeling safe at Oxford and elsewhere
  • Help you put together a plan of where you want to go next, and make sure that it supports your needs.

Confidentiality

We work confidentially, which means we won't share anything that you tell us with your college, department, tutors, family, etc without you explicit permission. There may be times, such as when you are at significant risk of harm, or someone else is at significant risk of harm, where we need to share some information, but if this comes up we will discuss this with you first.

How do I get in touch?

To make an appointment  just send an email to supportservice@admin.ox.ac.uk, and we will find you a suitable advisor.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA)

Who is the ISVA?

Our independent sexual violence advisor (ISVA), Léa, is employed by Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC) and is seconded to the University to exclusively support students. Léa is completely independent from the University, your college or any other agencies, and will tailor her support according to your needs. Léa is the expert on all matters of the criminal justice process and is able to support students through this process.

How can the ISVA support you?

The ISVA provides emotional and practical support and advice to any student who has experienced sexual violence, recently or in the past. 

Léa can:

  • Provide information about the criminal justice process if you're considering reporting, and help you to make informed choices about what is right for you;
  • Explain the University’s policies and procedures relating to sexual misconduct
  • Support you throughout the process of reporting;
  • Provide information about your rights;
  • Liaise with the police, the University, your college, the Crown Prosecution Service and/or other relevant agencies;
  • Accompany you to meetings relating to the sexual violence you have experienced;
  • Give you practical support and advocacy with regards to other services (e.g. studies, sexual and physical health, mental health, etc.);
  • Help you plan your safety and access appropriate support at the University or in your local area (e.g. counselling).

Léa works in a non-directive and non-judgemental way. This means that she can give you information about legal processes and services that are there to support you, will support you to explore your options, but will not tell you what to do. She will support the decisions you make.

Confidentiality

The ISVA service is confidential and everything you tell Léa will be kept within OSARCC, unless you give her explicit consent to share information with another agency or individual. OSARCC has an organisational confidentiality policy, which means that other OSARCC staff may be able to access these records in exceptional circumstances.

There are some instances in which the ISVA may be obliged to pass on certain information to other organisations, even without your approval. These instances include if you give the ISVA identifying information about a child or at-risk adult who is currently or imminently at risk of harm, or if you disclose information that leads the ISVA to believe that you or someone else may be at risk of harm.

How do I get in touch?

Léa can also be contacted directly via OxfordUniISVA@osarcc.org.uk or on 01865 725311 (Monday & Friday).

The ISVA accepts referrals from students themselves and from others, including other University organisations, as long as they are sent with the student's permission. 

Upon receipt of your referral, the ISVA will contact you within two working days and will then arrange a time to meet you in a location that's convenient for you. The ISVA can also offer you phone or email support if you feel uncomfortable meeting face-to-face.

Unsure of next steps?

It is not always easy to decide what support is right for you. If you are not sure whether you would like to receive support from a Specialist Advisor or from the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, we suggest that you get in touch with the Support Service (supportservice@admin.ox.ac.uk) and we’ll be able to help you find the most appropriate support.

Resources

The University Counselling Service has compiled a list of self-help resources on surviving traumatic events that may be helpful when thinking about any challenges that you may be facing and what you can do to address these. The Counselling Service has a number of counsellors who are experienced in working with survivors of sexual harassment and violence.

Sexual harassment and violence abroad

If the incident happened in another country and you are still there, you can contact the local British Consulate or Embassy for assistance, including medical and legal help. The Rape Crisis Network Europe website has information about specialist support services available in European countries.

Professionals

If you are a working with a student and have a concern, or would like some advice or reassurance, we would be more than happy to have a no-name confidential conversation with you. You can contact the Support Service on 01865 289815 during office hours.

Resources

- coming soon -

External support

There are a number of specialist organisations outside of the University who provide support to people affected by sexual harassment and violence:

Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre - for women

Survivors UK - for men dealing with the effects of sexual violence

Galop - an LGBT anti-violence and abuse charity

Karma Nirvana - supporting victims of honour crimes and forced marriages

National Association for People Abused in Childhood

Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse

Contact

You can make an appointment with one of our advisors by emailing supportservice@admin.ox.ac.uk

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