Supporting somebody experiencing sexual harassment can be daunting especially when it is someone close to you and you are worried about saying or doing "the wrong thing." You don't have to be an expert to support someone but there are some really simple things you can do that will help.
Listen and Believe
- Listen. If someone discloses an experience of sexual harassment to you, listening to what they tell with no judgment, compassion and empathy can be incredibly helpful. Just taking the time to listen to someone and talk about what has happened can help.
- Believe. Rather than asking a lot of questions, just let them know that you believe them and will support them as best as you can. Try not to skip ahead to what to do practically without first validating what you have heard and listening to what they have to say.
- Reassure. Remind them that no one, regardless of relationship or status, has the right to hurt them and that no matter what, it is not their fault that this occurred.
- Give Options. You can simply ask them what they need or want. They might not make the same decision you would; however, only they can decide what is best for them. You can help them explore options but avoid telling them what they should do.
Signpost to Specialist Services
There is lots of specialist support available both within the University and externally that your friend or loved one can access for support in the aftermath of sexual harassment.
- Speak to advisor. A specialist advisor will get in touch to discuss your options with you and will be able to offer appropriate practical and emotional support tailored to your circumstances. This is confidential and does not instigate any kind of formal reporting process.
- Counselling Service. The Counselling Service offers confidential support to students and staff.
- Manchester Rape Crisis (MRC) is a confidential support service run by women for women and girls who have been raped or sexually abused. They will listen, without judgement and with respect, to what you have to say. Their staff are fully trained and experienced to hear and respond with knowledge and caring.
- Survivors Manchester offers a range of services for men who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their lives. They are a survivor-led/survivor-run voluntary organisation that aims to create and facilitate a safe space for male survivors to work through personal and sometimes painful issues.
- Galop is an LGBT+ anti-violence charity who support people who have experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse. They also support lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people who have had problems with the police or have questions about the criminal justice system.
It's important to respect any reporting decision including a decision not to report at all. There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose not to report, only they can decide what is best for them.
- Police. Some forms of sexual harassment might also break criminal law, in which case you can report to police. To report a crime you can call 101 or visit your local police station to report a crime. Reporting is a big decision and all of the support services linked to above can support you with this, if your friend or loved one decides to make a police report.
- University. If the perpetrator is a member of the University community, your friend or loved one will have the option of submitting a formal report. The first step to making a formal report is to speak with an advisor, who will be able to provide your friend or loved one with advice and support on what options are available to make an informed decision.