Rape Crisis England & Wales & Coventry University launch new sexual violence disclosure training for higher education staff

28 Feb 2017

Rape Crisis England & Wales has worked in partnership with Coventry University to develop an online training module that will equip staff to effectively and sensitively support students who have experienced an unwanted sexual incident.

The online course trains staff in how best to respond when a student discloses an experience of sexual violence, assault or harassment, and to understand how the student might have been affected emotionally by their experiences. The module also equips staff to understand the emotional impact that receiving such a disclosure might have on them as an employee.

The module is now available for purchase by other universities, with Rape Crisis England & Wales receiving 25% of every purchase. It includes a bespoke ‘pathway for students’ document, which gives higher education institutions and their employees detailed knowledge of the support routes – including external sources of help, such as Rape Crisis – available to students who've experienced sexual violence or harassment.

A 2010 survey by the National Union of Students (NUS), Hidden Marks reported that at least 1 in 7 female students at UK universities had been victims of sexual assault. The survey also found very little awareness among students of whether institutions provided any services to support women, and that very few of those affected reported their experiences to the university authorities or the police.

 Rape Crisis England & Wales said: 

"Through our 40 years' experience of providing frontline, specialist support services to women and girls affected by sexual violence, we know that many victims and survivors don't tell anyone about what they've been through at first, for a host of reasons including shock and trauma, fear, shame and self-blame.

When someone who's been sexually assaulted, abused or harassed does choose to talk about it, it's vital that they are listened to and heard with sensitivity, respect and belief. A poor response to their first disclosure can leave victims and survivors feeling isolated and can sometimes prevent or delay them getting access to the specialist support they need, want and deserve.

We're really pleased to have been able to work on this important training with Coventry University to ensure more higher education staff have the skills and confidence to handle disclosures of sexual violence and harassment from students appropriately."

Dr Jane Osmond, research fellow at Coventry University, who was involved in the development of the training, said: 

“Positive steps are being taken across the university sector to address the issue of violence and harassment affecting students, and with this new online training module we’re aiming to support universities’ continued efforts.

“Being the victim of an unwanted sexual incident can be devastating, and the support a student receives immediately afterwards is critical. We worked closely with Rape Crisis England & Wales to ensure that employees taking the course are provided with information that will enable them to help students in a sensitive manner.” 

Universities can find out more information about the module here.