Sexual Violence Operational Policy

1. Introduction

All Union staff, officers, volunteers, members and visitors to the Union have a right to an environment that is free from any form of sexual violence. This document sets out our policy and response protocol to sexual violence and ensures that those who experience sexual violence are believed and their rights respected. The Students' Union acknowledges that not all victims/survivors of sexual violence may wish to formally report their experiences, and supports all individuals as the final decision-makers over the path that best suits them.

1.1 Scope and aims of the policy

This policy reflects the Students' Union's core values and exists to:

  1. Support all Union staff, officers, volunteers, members and visitors attending Union events, activities and affairs or on our premises who have been subjected to sexual violence;
  2. Provide guidance for victims/survivors of sexual violence about how they can report sexual misconduct and access support services;
  3. Ensure that those who disclose that they have been sexually assaulted are believed, and that their right to dignity and respect is protected throughout the process of disclosure, investigation and institutional response;
  4. Treat individuals who disclose sexual violence with compassion recognising that they are the final decision-makers about their own best interests;
  5. Enforce a zero tolerance approach to addressing incidents of sexual violence via our Discipline Procedure;
  6. Commit the Students' Union to monitoring the implementation of this Policy and to evaluating its effectiveness;

The Students' Union recognises that sexual violence intersects with other forms of violence that are related to factors including but not limited to gender identity, class, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, relationship status and faith. Anyone can be a victim/survivor of sexual violence, just as anyone can be a perpetrator, regardless of gender or if they are a staff member, student, friend, partner, or stranger.

We also recognize that individuals who have experienced sexual violence may experience emotional, academic, mental health or other difficulties.

2.0 Policy Implementation

All Union staff, officers, volunteers, members and visitors attending Union events, activities and affairs or on our premises must abide by the Policy. Members must also must abide by the Policy as a condition of their membership. Failure to comply may lead to sanctions, including the indefinite suspension of any or all of the privileges of membership of the Union.

2.1 Education and Training

In order to implement the policy, Union members and staff at the Union are supported in understanding the issues in order to raise awareness about them and to respond sensitively to disclosures of this nature. Students' Union staff of duty manager level or above and elected officers complete Care Pathways training, which provides staff guidance on the best way to respond to reports of sexual assault from students (i.e. where to direct someone who reports sexual assault, and what's best to say or do) so that students can be made fully aware of their options if they are in a situation where sexual violence is reported. This guidance was written in conjunction with the University of Sussex.

3. Reporting an incident

For immediate and emergency help on campus, the police can be contacted through security on campus at 01273 873333 (3333 internal phone). To contact the police off campus, 999 can be called in emergencies and 101 in non-emergencies. However if the victim/survivor does not wish to make a formal report to the police, there are other avenues of support available within the University and Students' Union:

3.1 Front-line staff

If a Union member, staff member, officer, or volunteer attending Union events, activities and affairs witnesses, experiences or is informed of an incident of sexual harassment or violence, they should follow the guidance viewable on our website on how to report an incident of misconduct by a member. Staff must ensure that those who disclose that they have been sexually assaulted are believed, and that their right to dignity and respect is protected throughout the process of disclosure.

Union members can disclose sexual violence to any of our front-line Students' Union staff, including staff at coordinator level and above, full-time and part-time elected officers working in Falmer House, as well as Duty Managers in our bars who are able assist in making a formal report, if you so choose. If the person making the disclosure decides not to take the situation further or make a formal complaint, the staff member or officer must respect this decision. Staff are also able to signpost to both immediate and ongoing support within the University and the local community.

3.2 Support and Advocacy

The Students' Union have a Support and Advocacy team who can offer support in a number of ways, including acting as a first responder, and by providing advice, support and guidance through both the University and the Students' Union's disciplinary proceedings. In addition, If an incident of sexual violence has been experienced, witnessed or disclosed to you at a non-Union affiliated event, or by someone who is not a Union member, staff member, officer, or volunteer, the Students' Union Support and Advocacy team can provide support and guidance to both immediate and ongoing support within the University and the local community.

3.3 Student Life Centre

The University Student Life Centre can provide specialist support for students who have experienced either recent or historical sexual violence and harassment. They can also sign-post to appropriate external services, and give advice on issues affecting academic work and attendance.

3.4 Online reporting

Reports can be made electronically via our online reporting tool, where there is also an option to submit the report anonymously. However, if the report is made anonymously, the Students' Union will not be able to pursue formal complaint/disciplinary proceedings at this stage, but the incident will be logged in our records.

The Students' Union will record and monitor all reported incidents of this nature through the online reporting tool. All data will be kept in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.

3.5 Support for Students' Union staff and officers

If staff or officers are affected by sexual violence in any way, the Union as an employer offers support such as access to counselling, adjustments to work or paid time off. There are also appropriate external sources of professional support which can be found following the link:

If staff, officers or volunteers have concerns or further questions they can contact their line manager or HR. All information will be treated in confidence. All staff, officers and volunteers can also consult the Mental Health, Wellbeing and Stress Management policy that gives detail of support available from the Students' Union as an employer.

4. Discipline Procedure

The Students' Union has a zero tolerance approach to addressing sexual violence and harassment. The Students' Union has a Discipline Procedure, which covers the misconduct of individual members, as well as sports clubs, societies, Union-affiliated groups and visitors in relation to sexual harassment, discrimination and violence. The sanctions imposed on individuals or groups who breach this Policy include indefinite removal of all of the privileges of membership of the Union. Alternatively, we may determine, with the consent of the complainant, that the nature of the complaint is sufficiently serious that the issue(s) should be referred to the University's disciplinary procedures for investigation.

5. Monitoring and Review

The head of Campaigns and Representation will be responsible for monitoring the day-to-day implementation of the Policy.

The Policy will be annually reviewed to evaluate its effectiveness and passed to Council for approval.

6. Appendices

Appendix A: definitions and terminologies

Sexual violence — a broad term which can include any kind of unwanted, non-consensual sexual touching or harassment. This could include sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, sexual exploitation, revenge porn and stalking. It is also important to note that domestic violence may often have a sexual element, and therefore could also fall under the umbrella of sexual violence.

Consent — The Sexual Offences Act 2003 for England and Wales says that a person consents to something if that person 'agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.' Sexual activity without consent is against the law - it is classed as rape or sexual assault.

Consent is about each person actively agreeing to any sexual contact, and about respecting other people's right to say "no" - whether they are communicating verbally or nonverbally, at any stage of sex or physical contact and at any point in a relationship.

Silence or non-communication must never be interpreted as consent and a person in a state of diminished judgment cannot consent. This includes if a person is asleep, unconscious, drugged or too drunk. A person who has been threatened or coerced (i.e. is not agreeing voluntarily) into engaging in the sexual activity is not giving consent, and a person can withdraw consent at any time during the course of a sexual encounter.

Sexual assault — an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in or witness a sexual act against their will e.g rape, attempted rape, and non-consensual sexual touching.

Sexual harassment — Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. It has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a worker, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Sexual harassment can include:

  1. Sexual comments or jokes;
  2. Physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances, touching and various forms of sexual assault;
  3. Displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature;
  4. Sending emails with a sexual content.

Revenge porn — the disclosure of private sexual photographs or videos without consent of one or more of the participants, often with malicious intent. It is a criminal offence.

Sexual exploitation — Sexual exploitation involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where a victim (or a third person or persons) receives 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Exploitative relationships are characterised in the main by the imbalance of power and control to the victim(s) from the perpetrator(s).

Appendix B: University Support

Campus & Residential Support
• Available 24 hrs/day and 7 days/week to students on campus.
• Phone number above during office hours (Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm)
• Out-of-hours, contact them through Security 01273 873333, your Residential Advisor, or
• Crisis intervention and specialist support for students who have experienced sexual
violence or harassment
• Signposting to appropriate external services
Location: Ground floor York House
Tel: 01273 877250
Email: [email protected]

• Available 24 hrs/day and 7 days/week to students on campus.
• Call Security if you need emergency help from police, ambulance or fire
• Call Security if you need support from the Campus & Residential Support team out of hours

Location: Ground floor York House
Tel: 01273 873333 or 3333 on an internal phone.
Email: [email protected]

Student Life Centre

• Ask for a priority appointment with a Student Advisor
• Specialist support for students who have experienced either recent or historical sexual
violence and harassment

• Advice on issues affecting academic work and attendance

• Signposting to appropriate external services

Available 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday in and outside term
Location: Ground floor, Bramber House
Tel: 01273 876767
Email: [email protected]

The Students' Union Support and Advocacy Team
• Independent advocacy for students using the disciplinary process either as complainant
or as subject of complaint

Available 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday
Location: First floor Falmer House
Tel: 01273 877038
Email: [email protected]

Appendix C: Specialist External Support

The Saturn Centre

Sexual Assault Referral Centre - Crisis support and the collection of forensic evidence

Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm
Main Office Number: 01293 600469
?Out of Hours Helpline: 0800 033 7797


Email: [email protected]

Crawley Hospital, West Green Drive, Crawley, West Sussex

RH11 7DH

The Solar Clinic at SHAC

For support, STI tests/treatment/emergency contraception

Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm

01273 523388 (opt 2)


Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton

Survivors' Network

Support services for all genders (14-18yrs) and self- identifying women survivors of sexual abuse.

Helpline: 7pm-9pm (Weds)

01273 720110

Text 07717999989

Email: [email protected]

Drop-ins: 7pm-9pm (Monday and Thursday)

01273 203380

Email: [email protected]

6a Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, BN1 1EE


Support for self-identifying men (18+) survivors of sexual abuse and their partners, families and friends through 1:1 counselling, therapeutic groups and couples.

Leave a message on 01273 911680


1 Brunswick Road, Hove, BN3 1DG

Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard

Switchboard is a charity for LGBTQ people looking for a sense of community, support or information. We connect people and support them directly through specially developed Switchboard services or link them other specialist organisations.

Helpline: 01273 204050

Mon – 6:30pm-9pm
Tues – Closed
Wed – 6:30pm-9pm
Thurs – 3pm-9pm
Fri – 6:30pm-9pm
Sat – Closed
Sun- 5pm-7pm (3pm-5pm Trans Survivors Helpline)

Email: [email protected]

Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XG

The Portal

Online information signposting to support for survivors of domestic or sexual abuse and violence in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex


Telephone: 0300 323 9985