This is sexual assault
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! TRIGGER WARNING: if you are affected by the subject of sexual assault, please proceed with caution !
Speaking with female and male students/people it has been alarming to discover how many have experienced some form of sexual assault. What was more alarming was the fact that many of these people were not aware of how they could report such abuse or how much control they truly have over such reports.
So here is a condensed article on what sexual assault is, what you can do about it and what organisations are out there to help you.
According to the Metropolitan Police website “the overall definition of sexual or indecent assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts.”
But “what [is it that] separates sex, or a gesture of affection, from sexual assault? It's a matter of consent. That is, both people agreeing to what's happening by choice, and having the freedom and ability to make that choice.”
According to WomensHealth.gov: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to.”
The NHS websites definition is similar: “a sexual assault is any sexual act that a person did not consent to, or is forced into against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and includes rape (an assault involving penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth), or other sexual offences, such as groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse or the torture of a person in a sexual manner.”
The overall consensus of these definitions is that if you did not consent to the act then it is a form of assault. This assault can vary in its severity and you may be confused as to what happened and whether it really was assault. You may think ‘did I consent when I kissed them back?’ Or ‘Did my attitude/behaviour lead to their assuming my consent?’ and the answer is no you did not. They assumed you consented or they did not stop to think whether you did or did not. Maybe they did not even ask. And that is not your fault.
What can you do about this? There are a number of people you can talk to about an assault. It could be a close friend or family member, it could also be a charity such as Women's Aid, Victim Support, The Survivors Trust or Survivors UK (for male victims of sexual assault). Or if you feel more comfortable you can talk to your GP about the event, this is apparently a common occurrence, as you do not have to report to the police but are still talking to someone who can offer advice and help. You can also speak to a Wellbeing officer at UKC (Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm) and their number is: 01227 82 3206 . You can also access support out of hours through campus security: Canterbury Campus Security on 3333 or 01227 823333 or go to Campus Security (24 hours) located next to Santander Bank. Or Medway Campus Security on 3333 or 01227 823333 . You can also report the assault to UKC via an online report (link at end of article).
There is, of course, the option of talking to the police. This can be done in person at a station, through their helpline 101 or through an online report form for your area. (All of which there will be links to at the end of this article).
Though it seems daunting it is worth considering the possibility of contacting the police because, for instance, what if the attacker did it again to someone else? If your report was on file and another victim of this attacker comes forward it makes a much stronger case if said victim wanted to take the attacker to court. Yes, taking your report as far as to court is an option. You, as the victim, have full control over the reporting and how far it is taken. Nothing is done without your consent. If you want to you can leave it as an online report, or you can take it further depending on what the officers handling your case recommend. Your report does not have to go to court if you do not want to, however, if you do decide a few years later that you do want to take it to court then you can. It is all up to you.
Always “remember, no matter who you are, how long ago the assault happened or what took place, our prime concern is to give you the support you need. We'll listen, understand and guide you through the investigation process at a pace you're comfortable with, whilst respecting your wishes.” - Met Police.
And always remember that this was not your fault and you are free to take any steps you like in reporting and finding help/advice.
All articles referenced in this article have been linked below if you are interested in reading more about this subject.
Kent police report form: https://www.kent.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rsa/rape-and-sexual-assault/how-to-report-rape-and-sexual-assault/
UKC report form: