If you think someone you know has been experiencing gender-based violence (GBV) there are lots of ways in which you can help them. Taking time to understand what constitutes the different forms of GBV may help to inform your next steps.
If someone has been affected by GBV their reactions can vary. They may be afraid, angry or have no outward reaction at all. They might even act in ways that seem unusual to you, even laughing at seemingly inappropriate times.
Disclosures can come in many forms. It could be something said jokingly, a story that someone starts to tell then stops and says it doesn't matter, or it could be a question. You are not expected to be a professional counsellor, however, how someone responds to a first disclosure can be important. It can take time for a person to decide what they want to do and how they want to move forward.
- Is there immediate danger? If you or they are in immediate danger or seriously injured, you should call 999 (or 112 from a mobile). Police 999 Silent Solution: if you cannot say ‘police’ or ‘ambulance’, respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. If prompted, press 55 on your phone.
- Find a safe space. If an incident has just happened, try and find somewhere that you and they feel safe. If you are on campus you can go to the Hub or Reception areas. If this isn’t possible and you are feeling scared you can request support from Security by calling 0141 848 3505 (all Scottish campuses) and 0141 848 3047 (for London), or use the SafeZone app. The SafeZone app enables users to call for help and assistance, giving students and staff fast access to Security whenever and wherever you are on campus. You can download the SafeZone app by clicking here.
- Listen to them. Just taking the time to listen to someone and talking about what has happened can help. Click here for six active listening tips that might help you support them (Published on Oct 4, 2015. Based on the Samaritans guidelines for active listening)
- Give options. When they have finished talking ask them if they are okay to talk through some possible options and next steps. Allow the individual to stay in control of the conversation and of their decisions. Remember, it is important that they decide what they want to do.
- Talk it through. Rape Crisis can offer advice and guidance for anyone who is supporting someone affected by sexual violence. If you have questions around how to best support someone or need advice yourself, you can find their contact details here for Scotland and here for England and Wales.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you look after yourself during this process and if you need support ask for it. Seek help from your family, friends, your personal tutor or colleague and you can always get support from the Counselling and Wellbeing team too.
- Reporting to the police. Dial 999 for an emergency and 101 for a non-emergency. If you're thinking of reporting to the police, Rape Crisis has produced a useful list of things to think about and offers support if you have questions around the reporting process. Some centres also offer a specific ‘Support to Report’ service. Find out more about this service here if you are based in Scotland or here if you are based in England or Wales.
- Reporting the incident anonymously. You can report online to Crimestoppers or call 0800 555 111.
- Reporting to the University. Students and staff can report an incident using the University’s Report + Support pages. This can be done anonymously or by making a report with contact details. If someone chooses to make a report with contact details, we will be able to talk through the options and support available in confidence. A report can be made using the buttons below.
- Find out what support is available to you if you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence by reading our dedicated support page.
A note from the University of the West of Scotland
We understand the importance of providing support to any member of our community who has been affected by gender-based violence. If you choose to speak to us, we will ensure that you are supported throughout the process. It is entirely up to you what action you wish to take - we just want to make sure you are clear about your options and are adequately supported throughout.