Bethany Woodhead discusses having the courage to report sexual misconduct.
Suffering any form of sexual violence or assault has devastating impacts on an individual's mental and physical wellbeing and, often, the world becomes a very dark place for a very long time. It might not seem like it, but there is a vast array of support networks to help you deal with what happened to you - both personal and professional. It is terribly daunting to think about telling a family member or a friend what has happened, but having the support and care from somebody who knows you and loves you is absolutely invaluable. No matter how much you want to try and forget about it, or how much you feel you can handle things alone, it will always catch up to you and you need people around you to catch you on the times you might fall.
Everybody goes at their own pace when it comes to recognising what has happened and whether or not they want to report it. It is your choice. Making an official police report can seem terrifying, but they have specialist officers - usually women - who will guide you through every step gently and who don't push you harder than you can manage at the time. If what happened to you was by someone on campus, there are many things you can do to ensure you don't have to see this person again and you can begin to move on with your life. If you cannot stomach the thought of making a criminal complaint at first, reporting to the University Senate is one way you can at least bring some sort of justice and also ensure your own safety - as well as the safety of other students on campus. The complexities of reporting to Senate seem off putting, and there are many misconceptions about what it entails. We know how intimidating it might seem; for more information, you can source our most recent investigation online, or on our front page. But you shouldn't let this deter you. Yes, your anonymity must be waived if you are reporting an instance of sexual violence or assault of any kind - but that is only waived within the people involved in senate handling your case; nobody else on campus will know. And did you know that if you are part of a group of people who are reporting against the same person, only one brave person needs to waive their anonymity to represent the rest of the group? Reporting to the unions might lead to a ban or revoking of membership but, other than that, the unions are pretty powerless. Going straight to the University is the only sure way within the university system you can get rid of this person.
You must remember that you are not alone, no matter how lonely this feeling can be. There are others like us; sitting next to us in the library, brushing past us in a lecture hall, sipping pints of fun in the GUU. We're living in a time where we're being taken seriously for the things that happen to us. And there are so many people and places we can turn to for help. Organisations like Survivors UK and Speak Out Scotland specifically help males, while Fearless supports people who identify as male or LGBTQ+. Archway and Rape Crisis Scotland provide help to anyone, with the former organisation also being able to provide physical examinations if you want to avoid going to hospital. Although, it is important to note that hospitals and GPs cannot report to the police - they are there simply to help you and will not force you to do anything. If you are able, it is always best to seek medical attention and any evidence gathered can be kept, to give you time to think about whether you would like to make a report. There are also multiple services on campus, such as the SRC Advice Centre, the University's Counselling and Psychological Services and student support groups.
I still have a lot of aftermath from my own traumas to deal with, and I know this is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. But since I've started talking about what has happened to me, I've noticed gradual changes for the better over time. First and foremost, I would never have got on the road to recovery without confiding in family and friends; they are a life raft in very choppy waters and can provide support in ways the police, social services, and psychological counselling services never have been able to. Things do get better, but you have to accept that they won't go away on their own and they won't go away by burying them. You have the power now: the power to decide what happens and when. You are stronger than you think and more resilient than you know. We are not victims - we are survivors.
If you would like to seek help or advice, or are looking to make a report, the following organisations are available:
Call 101 and specialist officers can be sent to your home to take a report, or provide you with further information about the reporting process
In an emergency, always call 999
Rape Crisis Glasgow/Scotland:
Helpline: 08088 00 00 14 (or call Rape Crisis Scotland National Helpline on 08088 01 03 02; deaf and hard of hearing on 0141 353 3091)
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Website: www.rapecrisiscentre-glasgow.co.uk or www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk
Address: Rape Crisis Centre, 5th Floor, 30 Bell Street, Glasgow, G1 1LG
Archway (Sexual Assault Referral Centre):
Telephone: 0141 211 8175
Address: 6 Sandyford Place, Glasgow G3 7NB