Imperial has launched a new initiative to support students who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their lives.
The College has worked with Lime Culture, the UK’s leading sexual violence training and development organisation, to train a team of five Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs).
The initiative forms part of Imperial’s drive to improve support for students who have experienced sexual violence whether on or off campus, or recently or in the past.
Specially trained and non-judgemental
The SVLOs are members of staff from across Imperial who are specially trained to handle disclosures of sexual violence from students. They can guide students through their options confidentially and without judgement, and will help them to access the right resources, support and information.
Contacting an SVLO doesn’t mean that students must report an assault to the police or make a formal complaint to the College, but they can help students to do so if they wish.
With a student’s consent, SVLOs can help students with things like:
- Referrals to counselling and medical services, both inside and outside the College
- Discussions with the relevant College services with regards to academic adjustments, accommodation arrangements or other concerns.
- Understanding the reporting options available
- Navigating other systems and resources within the College and community
Lime Culture, who facilitated the training, developed the course specifically for university staff to ensure that UK universities are equipped to respond to disclosures of sexual violence from students. The organisation has also worked with universities such as the University of Sheffield, the University of Bristol and Durham University.
Breaking down barriers
“I don’t want any student to feel isolated during their time at Imperial. When they need us most, I want them to know that we are here for them.” Professor Simone Buitendijk Vice-Provost (Education)
The introduction of the SVLOs was a joint project between the College and Imperial College Union, supported by HEFCE Catalyst funding.
Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Provost (Education) said: “For people who have experienced sexual violence, telling somebody else about their abuse can be frightening and overwhelming. They may worry they will not be believed, that their experiences will be dismissed, or that they will be made to report an incident when they don’t feel ready to.
“That’s why we have introduced SVLOs to help students who may be finding it hard to cope after experiencing sexual violence – my priority is making sure that our students are supported even if an incident occurred outside our campuses, which sadly, we know does happen.
“I don’t want any student to feel isolated during their time at Imperial. When they need us most, I want them to know that we are here for them.”
A central place of support
Becky Neil, Deputy President (Welfare) at Imperial College Union, said:
"This is a big step forward for Imperial in terms of ensuring there is sufficient support for sexual violence survivors, and in a central place. Sexual violence of any sort can have long term consequences and we know it's challenging to cope with and talk about.
"Our SVLOs are here to support students who have experienced sexual violence and be there when they feel scared or alone. Every student who accesses the support will be listened to. You are not alone, and we are here for you."
If you are a student and have experienced sexual violence, you can contact an SVLO whenever you feel ready.
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
Photos and graphics subject to third party copyright used with permission or © Imperial College London.
Communications and Public Affairs
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