#ItsNotOn

The #ItsNotOn Campaign

Inverness College UHI believes that all violence and harassment is not acceptable. We are committed to tackling violence and harassment and believe staff and students have the right to live and study in a safe and supportive environment.

We are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming community that is free from harassment. 

We want to promote a positive attitude towards sexual consent and respect.

Sexual Violence and Harassment comes in many forms. It can be physical, emotional, and verbal – anything that makes another person feel uncomfortable or intimidated.

We believe that you should never have to put up with violence or harassment. You should never be made to feel uncomfortable by another individual.

Whether this occurs in bars, on campus, on public transport or online, and by whomever - people you know or complete strangers, we say that this is NOT ON.

It is for this reason that Inverness College UHI have launched #ItsNotOn – a campaign against violence and harassment, and we urge all staff and students to stand together in challenging the behaviour around you.

This includes our new online reporting tool.

We strongly advise that you read through all the information listed below, and our Privacy Impact statement before submitting a report. This will ensure that you are aware of your options and all the different sources of support available to you.  

All students can report an incident. Please be aware that submitting a report is primarily about making a disclosure and a way of accessing support, you can either choose to speak to a member of the Guidance Team or report anonymously.

Submitting an online report will not automatically initiate the disciplinary procedures, this is a separate process.

Staff can submit a disclosure on your behalf. They will make sure they have your permission before they submit any personal information on your behalf.

Consent is as easy as a cup of tea.

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You can report any issues seen or experienced to the Guidance Team

What is sexual violence?

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence and harassment

Sexual violence is any form of unwanted sexual activity.  There are many different kinds of sexual violence, including but not restricted to: rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rather with marriage / relationships, forced marriage and sexual exploitation.

Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, or by someone known and even trusted, such as a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner.  Sexual violence can happen to anyone.  No-one ever deserves or asks for it to happen.

100% of the responsibility for any act of sexual violence lies with its perpetrator.  There is no excuse for sexual violence; it can never be justified, it can never be explained away and there is no context in which it is valid, understandable or acceptable.

If you have been raped or experienced any other kind of sexual violence, no matter where you were, what you were doing, what you were wearing, what you were saying, if you were drunk or under the influence of drugs, it was not your fault, you did not deserve this.

It might help you to know that by law, a person consents to sexual activity if she or he agrees to it by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.  If you said 'yes' to something because you were scared for your life, or your safety, or for the life or safety of someone you care about, or if you were asleep or unconscious or incapacitated through alcohol or drugs, for example, then you didn't agree by choice and have the freefom and capacity to make that choice.

If you froze or your body 'flopped' or went limp through fear, if you didn't say the word 'no' or werent able to speak at all through shock, if you didn't shout or fight or struggle, it doesn't mean you gave consent for what happened to you.

Sexual violence overview

Harassment is a pattern of behaviour that is unwelcome and has the effect of violating a person’s dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.

The behaviour is usually persistent and continues over a period of time, although a one-off incident that is particularly serious can also amount to harassment.

Whilst views of ‘acceptable behaviour’ may vary from person to person, the key element of sexual violence and harassment is that the behaviour is unacceptable to the recipient and could ‘reasonably be considered’ to cause harassment.

It is unlawful to harass someone at University on the grounds of their race, sex, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or gender reassignment.

In addition to the Students Complaints process there is additional help available on campus.

Experiencing harassment is difficult and you may have many, often conflicting feelings about the events that have led you to feel humiliated, offended or degraded or about the fact that you are in an environment that violates your dignity.

You can feel this way if another person intended to make this happen or not; what matters is how you feel.

Sexual violence and  harassment is unlawful and can be reported to the police, your employer or your University who can take you through formal procedures.

You may want to talk to someone about doing this or you may just want to someone to talk to.

At Inverness College UHI, we have a number of staff who are able to take time to listen, advise and guide you through your next steps whatever you decide you want them to be.

These staff can be found in the Wellbeing Team and the Guidance Team.

Just pop into the Student Services Centre, the glass office behind reception.

I think it's happening to me

I think it's happening to me

I think I am being harassed or bullied. What options are available to me?

If you are being a victim of sexual violence, or being harassed or bullied you may feel that you are powerless to change the situation.

However, there are a number of informal and formal options open to you (set out below) and any member of staff can help you think though these options. Which is appropriate will depend on your situation. Where possible and appropriate we recommend an informal approach be used first.

Whatever course of action you take, it’s a good idea to keep a written record of the behaviour for your future reference, including:

  • When and where the incident takes place
  • Details of the behaviour
  • Names of any witnesses to the behaviour 

1. Speak to the person concerned

Often speaking with the person about their behaviour can bring the situation to an end. Sometimes people do not realise that their behaviour is upsetting and explaining this to them can be enough to make them rethink their actions.

It is best to approach the person at the earliest opportunity to prevent the behaviour from escalating. Try to:

  • Pick a time and place where you can speak privately (if appropriate)
  • Clearly identify the behaviour that is causing concern to you
  • Make clear it is unwelcome and must stop 

2. Seek Third Party intervention

If speaking to the person does not resolve the situation, getting a third party involved may help. Ideally this should be your Personal Academic Tutor or the Guidance/Wellbeing Teams. The third party should try to resolve the situation, for example by speaking to the person concerned about their behaviour, by reaching an agreement between you and them about the way forward.

3. Make a formal complaint

Where other approaches do not succeed, or where they are unsuitable, a formal complaint should be made. The complaint will be addressed under the relevant complaint procedure and will involve an investigation into the allegations. In the course of the investigation the complainant, alleged harasser and any witnesses will be interviewed.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, a formal complaint can result in disciplinary action being taken against the harasser, a recommendation for mediation, training or counselling or some other measure to address their behaviour.

Formal complaints can be taken to ANY member of staff. They should include your details, an outline of the allegation (including dates, times and places), details of the alleged harasser or bully, details of any witnesses and any attempts to resolve the situation.

The College will investigate the allegation as speedily as possible. Where the allegations are against people you come into regular contact with, arrangements to limit contact during the investigation will be considered.

For further information about making a formal complaint, see ANY member of staff.

Active bystander

Active bystander

We can all be bystanders. Every day events unfold around us. At some point, we will register someone in danger. When this happens, we will decide to do or say something (and become an active bystander), or to simply let it go (and remain a passive bystander).

Be an Active Bystander

When we intervene, we signal to the perpetrator that their behaviour is unacceptable. If such messages are constantly reinforced within our community, we can shift the boundaries of what is considered acceptable and problem behaviour can be stopped.

Learning to recognise when someone is in danger and how you can intervene safely is an essential skill. Safely intervening could mean anything from a disapproving look, interrupting or distracting someone, not laughing at a sexist or a violent joke, talking to a friend about their behaviour in a non-confrontational way to caring for a friend who’s experienced problematic behaviour. Other times, it means asking friends, staff, or the police for help.

How to be an Active Bystander

Sometimes, a situation just does not feel right. It might be comments made by a friend that you feel are inappropriate or you spot someone being harassed at a party or club.

Being an active bystander means being aware of when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening and choosing to challenge it. If you do not feel comfortable doing this directly, then get someone to help you such as a friend or someone in authority.

Research shows that bystander intervention can be an effective way of stopping harassment or even an assault before it happens, as bystanders play a key role in preventing, discouraging, and/or intervening when an act of violence has the potential to occur.

Before stepping in, try the ABC approach

  • Assess for safety: If you see someone in trouble, ask yourself if you can help safely in any way. Remember, your personal safety is a priority – never put yourself at risk.
  • Be in a group: It’s safer to call out behaviour or intervene in a group. If this is not an option, report it to others who can act.
  • Care for the victim. Talk to the person who you think may need help. Ask them if they are OK.

How You Can Intervene Safely

When it comes to intervening safely, remember the four Ds – direct, distract, delegate, delay.

  • Direct action
    Call out negative behaviour, tell the person to stop or ask the victim if they are OK. Do this as a group if you can. Be polite. Don’t aggravate the situation - remain calm and state why something has offended you. Stick to exactly what has happened, don’t exaggerate.
  • Distract
    Interrupt, start a conversation with the perpetrator to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene. Or come up with an idea to get the victim out of the situation – tell them they need to take a call, or you need to speak to them; any excuse to get them away to safety. Alternatively, try distracting, or redirecting the situation.
  • Delegate
    If you are too embarrassed or shy to speak out, or you don’t feel safe to do so, get someone else to step in. Any decent venue has a zero tolerance policy on harassment, so the staff there will act.
  • Delay
    If the situation is too dangerous to challenge then and there (such as there is the threat of violence or you are outnumbered) just walk away. Wait for the situation to pass then ask the victim later if they are OK. Or report it when it’s safe to do so – it’s never too late to act.

Supporting someone

Supporting someone

Supporting a survivor of sexual violence can be daunting; many people are afraid of saying or doing 'the wrong thing', or of 'damaging' someone further because they 'don't know enough'. But you don't have to be an expert.

If you are prepared to listen, the survivor who has confided in you will be able to guide you in what they need. Here is some guidance to support you in supporting a survivor:

DO

Listen:  Listen, and show that you are listening, to what she or he has to say, even if it's difficult for you to hear.  You might have a lot of questions but try not to interrupt.

Let them stay in control: Sexual abuse and rape can make a person feel powerless and out of control. Survivors want and deserve to feel in charge of their lives again. So it's important you resist the temptation to 'take over', for example by arranging and doing things that you think are best. Instead, support her/him to explore their feelings and options and make their own decisions.  Respect those decisions, even if you don't agree with them. Doing things for a survivor (like making an appointment on their behalf without checking that it's what they want first) can end up making things worse, even when you were only trying to help.

Be patient: Many survivors find it difficult to trust others because of their experiences and especially if they've not been believed in the past. At the same time, if someone you know has told you that they were abused or raped, they've put trust in you. Try to repay that trust by being patient and don't push for them to tell you anything before they're ready. It might not be easy for them to start talking about experiences they might have stayed silent about for some time. It might be difficult because their abuser told them not to tell or threatened them. They might feel ashamed or responsible or be traumatised.

If it's your partner who has experienced sexual violence of any kind, whether recently or in the past, they might find intimacy and sexual contact difficult. Sometimes they might not even want you physically close, and other times they might seek extra physical comfort from you. Try to remember that this is not a reflection on you or your relationship; it is about your partner's experiences and feelings. Reassure them, respect their wishes and be patient.

Believe: People rarely lie about rape or sexual abuse. Why would they? It is important to believe what they are saying even if it's difficult for you to hear.

Remember it's not their fault: No-one asks to be abused, assaulted or raped. No survivor should ever be blamed for not preventing their own abuse or violence against them. The blame lies with the perpetrator.

Recognise their courage: It takes a great deal of strength and courage both to survive and to talk about experiences of sexual violence; acknowledge that.

DON'T

Don't ask why they didn't say anything sooner: They might have tried to tell before and been ignored or disbelieved. They might have been threatened or been too frightened to say anything. They might have felt ashamed or blocked out events too painful to think about.

Don't judge: It is important to be accepting of the way they are reacting, even if it's not what you were expecting or not the way you think you'd respond to a similar experience. It is best to get rid of any ideas you have of how a person who has been raped should behave and to accept their reactions as their own.

Don't ask them why they didn't fight back: This will only make them feel judged and even blamed for what happened. Rape and sexual assault are terrifying experiences to which people react in different ways. It's very common to freeze when confronted with a terrifying situation, for example, or for our bodies to 'flop' or go limp.

Remember to take care of yourself as well. Supporting a survivor can be difficult and it's OK to take time and space for yourself sometimes. It's important not to betray a survivor's trust by telling others about their experiences without their permission, but you can talk confidentially to and get specialist support from your nearest Rape Crisis service.

Information taken from https://rapecrisis.org.uk/supportingasurvivor.php