Chester Students’ Union Advice Centre has three advisors trained to help you access the support you may need if you have experienced any kind of sexual violence. In conjunction with a number of local services and the University of Chester, we aim to give the power back to you in making the choice of what comes next. Students can contact the Advice Centre to talk to an Advisor in confidence, and to seek advice on the potential next steps that you have within and outside of the University.
We understand that reporting an incident can be difficult. This page gives some information on how you can report, and what support you can receive from the Union, University and beyond.
Sexual Violence is the general term which is used to describe any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity, including but not limited to:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual harassment
- Female genital mutilation (FGM)
All forms of sexual violence are serious, and there are several options available to report it if something has happened. There are also a number of services available to support you whether or not you report the incident.
Sexual abuse can happen to absolutely anyone.
Abusers do not discriminate. There is no excuse for sexual abuse and it can never be justified. 100% of the responsibility lies with the perpetrator.
If you have been sexually abused, no matter where you were, what you were doing, what you were wearing, what you were saying, if you were drunk or under the influence of drugs, it was not your fault.
Students' Union Advice Centre - The Advice Centre can support you by listening in confidence, providing the options available to you to report an incident, advise on what services are available locally if needed, and advise on any academic and housing steps you may wish to take if you feel your studies may be affected. We have a drop-in service available across the different campuses, you can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can contact us by clicking the "Contact An Advisor" button at the bottom of this page.
Student Wellbeing Team - The Student Wellbeing team also offers the same support as the Students' Union for cases of sexual violence, providing someone to speak to confidentially, and explaining the options available to you to report the incident if you wish to do so; you can contact them via email at email@example.com or by going to the info point in Binks building.
SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) - SARCs offer medical, practical and emotional support to all survivors. They have specially trained doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you. Their specialist independent sexual violence advisers (ISVAs) will support you through the criminal justice system if you decide to report the assault to the police, including supporting you through the trial, should the case go to court.
There are SARCs in Manchester and Liverpool. Search for your nearest SARC here.
RASASC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre) - Supporting female survivors aged 13+ with specialised confidential support and information. You can find out more about the local RASASC centres [here].
Survivors UK – Specifically supporting all male survivors. There is a particularly useful section on self-help.
CSASS (Chester Sexual Abuse Support Service) - CSASS are members of Rape Crisis, and support anyone aged 18+ who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time. They provide free, independent counselling, as well as telephone support and live chat.
Mind – Provide mental health support and information, including self-harm, anxiety and depression.
Papyrus - Provide support to young people who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide. You can speak with someone confidentially by calling 0800 068 4141.
There are a number of ways that you can report a sexual violence incident:
Directly to the Police. Call 999 if it is an emergency or you are in danger. Otherwise, call 101 at any other time or visit your local police station.
Through a SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre). At the centre, you will be supported by medical staff, as well as staff trained to take a full disclosure from you, and be given the option to speak with an ISVA who can guide you through the criminal justice system if you decide to report the incident to the police.
At the University. You can report an incident to the University, either by speaking with the Student Wellbeing team, or by asking to speak with a University Proctor (both departments are based within Student Futures). Staff within both of these departments are trained to deal with recording incidents. If your report relates to an incident involving a fellow student or staff member, you will be given the option to pursue this within the University's Disciplinary procedure, if you do not want to follow external processes first (via reporting to the police). If your report relates to an incident involving someone who is a member of the public, family member, or someone otherwise not within the University, you will be given the option to report this to the police with the support of the University. If you do not want to take your report forward down any process, and just wanted to tell someone about what happened, this is also fine; your report can be kept on record for you to come back to at a later date, and appropriate support can be arranged.
At the Students' Union. The Students' Union's Advice Centre is also available if you need someone to talk to confidentially about an incident. The advice team can talk you through your options internally and externally, and can support with any academic or housing advice that you may need as well. The advisors will provide you with the information you may need to help you choose what to do next, and can connect with the other support services above with your consent, if you need us to refer you on to the proctor, SARC or police service. We can also be available just to listen if that is what you need. We will write up a copy of any discussion had about an incident, so that you have this available if you choose to proceed with a report at a later date.
Reporting Hate Crime Online. If you feel that the harassment you have received constitutes hate crime, and do not want to report a hate crime directly to the police, you can report it online at www.report-it.org.uk. The Advice Service is a hate crime reporting centre, so you can come to us if you need support with this.
If you have come to the Advice Centre for support with reporting an incident, you can return at any point for further advice on what happens next. If you find that it is affecting your academic work, we can support you with submitting mitigating circumstances applications, or academic appeals. If you have found that you need to leave your student housing, or otherwise have financial implications that were unexpected, we may be able to support you with a Financial Assistance Fund application to cover the costs involved. We can also provide representation if you are required to go to meetings with the University.
If you require representation outside of the University as part of the criminal justice system, we would encourage you to access an ISVA through the RASASC service, as they are specially trained to support you through the legal process.
By law, a person only consents to sexual activity “if she or he agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice”.
If you said “yes” to something because you were scared for your life or safety, or of someone you care about, or if you were asleep or unconscious or incapacitated through alcohol or drugs, then you didn’t agree by choice and didn’t have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
If you froze or your body went limp through fear, if you didn’t say the word “no” or weren’t able to speak through shock, if you didn’t shout or fight or struggle, it doesn’t mean you gave your consent for what happened to you.
If you said “no”, you meant no. It was not your fault.