The Sexual Harassment Pledge – what it is, and why you should sign it 

plain red banner with text: "Sexual Misconduct and Assault #Never Ok. University of Reading"

See it. Say it. Stop it. 

What is sexual harassment? 

Sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, sexual comments and sexual activity. It can range from catcalling to unwanted sex. It can happen to anyone, in any setting. And sexual harassment is never okay. 4 in 5 women in the UK face sexual harassment. This already high statistic does not account for other genders, and the large number of sexual harassment cases that go unreported.

And it happens at Universities, too. Almost 62% of UK university students have experienced sexual violence at university. It can have a strong negative impact on the person experiencing it, from emotional and physical effects like anger, fear, headaches and stress, to more long-term mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Very often, they can feel embarrassed and ashamed, which prevents hem from seeking help. 

What can we do about it? 

  1. Sign the Pledge to help build a community where sexual harassment isn’t tolerated. 
  2. Complete the Consent and Active Bystander Training to build your knowledge and call out sexual harassment. 
  3. Spread the word on social media and encourage others to join the fight, by posting #SexualHarassmentIsNeverOK
  • Be an active bystander: Most students say that if they were being harassed, they would want someone to step in and help them.  

    There is more than one way to support a fellow student in an uncomfortable situation. Each scenario is different, and it is important to consider the safety of the people involved before taking any action. 

    To be an active bystander, you can: 
  1. Change the conversation topic and direct attention away from the uncomfortable topic through distraction. 
  2. Step in and confront the person. You can directly ask them to stop their behaviour or question their hurtful comments. ‘I’ statements and disapproving body language can be powerful tools to get your point across. 
  3. Report the matter to an authority either during or after the occurrence. 

    You can also make sure the person who experienced sexual harassment is okay and ask if they need any help.  
  • Keep yourself safe: As university students, we frequently walk home late at night after a fun event or a study session. If you feel like this can compromise your safety, you can download the MyWay App. This was co-designed with our very own students and provides safe routes home, while sending automatic updates about your whereabouts to a trusted contact. 

  • Report and Support: If you have ever been sexually harassed, please know that it is never your fault. You are not only allowed, but encouraged, to ask for help. Use the university’s Report and Support tool to report your experience. If you feel uncomfortable sharing your personal details, you can submit anonymously to protect your privacy.
  • Enough: This Autumn term, we’re joining forces with the Home Office to share their ‘Enough’ campaign. It’s all about helping you, as a friend, family member, colleague or bystander, to take some simple steps to safely tackle violence against women and girls.  Intervening doesn’t have to be dramatic or confrontational. Even small acts of recognition and support can help stop abuse. Visit the Enough website for practical guidance on how. By coming together and standing against abuse in all its forms, we can say ‘ENOUGH’. 

Sexual harassment can be a traumatic experience for anyone – you can visit the Counselling and Wellbeing Team for emotional support.  

Raise your voice. Sign the Sexual Harassment Pledge.  

See it. Say it. Stop it. 

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