Written by UWE's Anti-Sexual Violence Advisor
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week at UWE
To mark Sexual Violence Awareness Week (5 – 11 February), the Student Communications team, the Anti-Sexual Violence Service and the Students’ Union will be hosting stalls on each campus to engage with students, explore myths and facts around sexual violence and signpost to support.
Find us in The Students’ Union spaces at:
TW: This article contains discussions of sexual violence and victim-blaming attitudes throughout.
What is Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week?
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week (SASV Week) is a national campaign that takes place every year, in February. It aims to raise awareness of sexual violence, signpost to specialist support services and to showcase to victims / survivors that we stand with them and support them.
Why Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week?
Some people may query why an awareness week is necessary, whether the prevalence of sexual violence is high enough to warrant a dedicated event. One only needs to look at the statistics around sexual violence/abuse to realise that they are not one-off incidents, but a pervasive problem in our society.
The reality is that 1.1 million people over the age of 16, experienced some type of sexual violence or abuse according to the last survey done in Engand and Wales (Office for National Statistics (ONS), March 2022).
People identifying as female are more likely to experience a sexual assault. 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual trauma (1in6.org). People in the age bracket of 16-24 years old and full-time students have a much higher chance of being were victims /survivors of sexual assaults, than those in any other occupations or age brackets. (ONS, March 2022).
9 in 10 girls and young women in the educational setting say that they have experienced sexist name-calling, online sexual harassment and so-called ‘Cyber-Flashing’ (unwanted pictures) (Rape Crisis England and Wales, 2024).
It’s therefore essential to shine a light on an issue that impacts so many people but that is rarely addressed, because it is highly emotive, challenging or taboo to do so.
SASV Week also exists to dispel victim blaming myths. Victim blaming myths often involve inaccurate assumptions or beliefs that attempt to shift the blame from the perpetrator to the victim / survivor. Victim blaming myths exist to “serve to deny, downplay or justify sexual violence” (Wonkhe, 2023).
Examples of victim blaming myths would be :
Let’s dispel these myths:
Victim blaming has a massive impact on victims/survivors who have the courage to disclose and seek support. It not only can hinder their healing journey, but it also has a direct impact on reporting to the police as victims/survivors fear not being believed or blamed for the trauma they have experienced.
It’s therefore really important that we challenge these myths – together we can create a safe space for victims/survivors to seek support but also educate future jurors so they can make an informed decision about sexual offences cases, free from victim blaming stereotypes or myths.
The first thing to remember is that if something sexual has been done to you without your consent – it is sexual violence – and it is not your fault. You are not to blame for any sexual harassment or violence you were subjected to.
Whatever you are feeling right now, it is normal. There is no right or wrong way to feel or respond to this.
The following services offer support:
If you would like tips on how to support a friend who discloses sexual violence – click here