Psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse can take many forms.

What we’re asking you to do

1 in 4 female students experience unwanted sexual attention during their studies. Colleges and universities want to encourage students, and staff, to make a disclosure if they experience gender based violence, and to feel confident that they will be supported.

It’s possible that you might receive a disclosure of gender based violence from a student or a colleague. We’re asking you to carry a support card on you at all times so that you have information on specialist helplines at your fingertips. The best outcome is that the person seeks specialist support as soon as possible.

If you work at a college or university and you haven’t yet received a card, please contact your HR department which should be able to help you. If you work in one of the private student accommodation providers and would like a card, please contact: info@universities-scotland.ac.uk

6 steps to guide your conversation, if you receive a disclosure

We’re not expecting you to be a specialist, however we want to make sure you’re aware of these basic steps to empower someone get specialist help, quickly and safely.

  1. Believe them. Be kind and reassure them that they are not to blame. Confirm you take the matter seriously. Do not ask for proof.
     
  2. Explain your role and encourage towards specialist support. Advise that you are not a trained specialist but you can listen, provide information and refer for support. The best outcome is that they seek specialist support as soon as possible. That is the purpose of the card.
     
  3. Ask if they feel safe. Ask them if they are feeling frightened and, if they are, ask what they are afraid of. Early on, let them know you are duty bound to tell someone immediately if they disclose that they, or someone else, is at risk of serious harm. This is to keep them safe.
     
  4. Listen actively. Don’t interrupt. Don’t be afraid of silences. Concentrate on what you are being told. Don’t investigate or probe for detail; that’s not your role. Take brief, factual notes of what was said and don’t include assumptions.
     
  5. Give them control. The person making the disclosure needs to be in control and make their own decisions about what happens next. It is not appropriate to offer solutions or advice or to act on their behalf without their full consent unless there is a risk of harm to them or others (see 3).
     
  6. Safeguarding for under 18s. If the disclosure is being made by someone over 16 but under 18 and in care or a care leaver, you need to pass this disclosure to the person responsible for safeguarding procedures in your institution. This should ideally be done with the student’s consent.

Other things you can do

  • Look after yourself. Receiving a disclosure of gender based violence can be a very emotional and deeply upsetting experience. It could also cause you to re-experience traumatic memories from your past. Please recognise this and seek support from your HR department and your institution’s resources to support staff wellbeing if this applies to you.
     
  • Find out about the resources available to tackle gender based violence in your institution. Colleges and universities have made a great deal of progress on this issue over the last few years and it is an area where much action is still underway. All colleges have policies and procedures in place to address the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults. If you work at a university or higher education institution, your HR department will be able to advise you about your institution’s policies on gender based violence, reporting mechanisms and what training might be available. College staff can contact the person responsible for safeguarding procedures in their institution for more information.
     
  • Find out more about the Equally Safe Toolkit. A new toolkit of resources, developed to support Scotland’s universities tackle the issue of gender based violence, was launched in spring 2018. The support cards have been developed with close guidance from the team behind the Toolkit and the 6 steps to guide a disclosure are adapted from the Toolkit’s research. Visit the Equally Safe Toolkit to find out more about the full set of resources available.

 

 

6 steps to guide your conversation, if you receive a disclosure

We’re not expecting you to be a specialist, however we want to make sure you’re aware of these basic steps to empower someone get specialist help, quickly and safely.

  1. Believe them. Be kind and reassure them that they are not to blame. Confirm you take the matter seriously. Do not ask for proof.
     
  2. Explain your role and encourage towards specialist support. Advise that you are not a trained specialist but you can listen, provide information and refer for support. The best outcome is that they seek specialist support as soon as possible. That is the purpose of the card.
     
  3. Ask if they feel safe. Ask them if they are feeling frightened and, if they are, ask what they are afraid of. Early on, let them know you are duty bound to tell someone immediately if they disclose that they, or someone else, is at risk of serious harm. This is to keep them safe.
     
  4. Listen actively. Don’t interrupt. Don’t be afraid of silences. Concentrate on what you are being told. Don’t investigate or probe for detail; that’s not your role. Take brief, factual notes of what was said and don’t include assumptions.
     
  5. Give them control. The person making the disclosure needs to be in control and make their own decisions about what happens next. It is not appropriate to offer solutions or advice or to act on their behalf without their full consent unless there is a risk of harm to them or others (see 3).
     
  6. Safeguarding for under 18s. If the disclosure is being made by someone over 16 but under 18 and in care or a care leaver, you need to pass this disclosure to the person responsible for safeguarding procedures in your institution. This should ideally be done with the student’s consent.