Almost two thirds of students and graduates have experienced sexual violence at university

  • 6 out of 10 victims knew their perpetrator. Of these, 3 in 4 said that it was another student from their universities
  • Twice as many – 8 per cent – university students have reported experiencing rape compared to the national ONS average
  • Disabled students particularly at risk, with 7 in 10 having experienced sexual violence
  • 10 per cent of students didn’t report the incidents to the police or university
  • Only 2 per cent of those experiencing sexual violence felt both able to report it to their university and then were satisfied with the reporting process

62% of students and graduates have experienced sexual abuse at university, according to a nationwide survey of 4500 students.

The survey found that the figures are even more shocking amongst female respondents: with 7 in every 10 reporting abuse. Almost half of these women have experienced sexual assault.

The survey conducted by Revolt Sexual Assault, in collaboration with The Student Room, found that the most commonly experienced form of sexual assault was inappropriate touching and groping. It also found that twice as many respondents – 8 per cent – reported having experienced rape compared to the national average according to the ONS.

One anonymous student wrote: ‘In my first term of freshers I walked a drunken friend home after a night out. One thing led to another. I was never intending for anything to happen but he was pushing for a bit more. I refused to let anything happen but he said, ‘it’s not rape, you want this.’

I refused to let anything happen but he said, ‘it’s not rape, you want this.

6 out of 10 victims knew their perpetrator. Of these, 3 in 4 said that it was another student from their university.

Disabled students were shown to be particularly at risk, with 7 in 10 having experienced sexual violence and over half sexual assault.

Students spoke of a ‘normalised’ culture of sexual violence within the university environment, with only 6 per cent of those who had experienced sexual assault or harassment reporting their experience of sexual violence to the university.

Over half of students felt that their experiences were not serious enough to warrant reporting, whilst a third felt too ashamed.

10 per cent of students didn’t report the incidents to the police or university; and only 2 per cent of those experiencing sexual violence felt both able to report it to their university and then were satisfied with the reporting process.

One respondent suffered a violent rape by another student in her year:

“I was out with my friends in first year and the next morning I woke up in bed naked with a stranger and I had a black eye, bruises all over my body. My drink had been spiked and I had been raped vaginally, orally and forcefully. The stranger turned out to be another student at the university, in my year, in my faculty.”

However, when she reported it to the university and police, she felt completely failed:

“I reported it to the police and the university. He couldn’t explain the bruises and the black eye, but there wasn’t enough evidence to continue so they dropped the case.”

The university sent me a letter regarding the ‘serious allegations’ I’d made against another student. It made me feel like I was the criminal. For example, it’s me who has to check whether I share an exam hall with him and if I do I have to explain, normally to a new member of staff, what happened so that they change the room for me. I had to change gyms, I’ve never been on the university ski trip.”

Rape is revolting and so was the way I was treated after. Something really needs to change.”

Rape is revolting and so was the way I was treated after. Something really needs to change.

Similarly, another anonymous student expressed the difficult choice she’d been forced to make:

“My university failed me entirely when I reported my sexual assault, and it was brushed under the carpet. I didn’t bother reporting the second incident.”

I figured out that I had the emotional strength to do one of two things: I could pursue a complaint against my rapist, or I could finish my degree.”

She continued “I chose the latter and went for counselling after graduating, but I still have not recovered and I think about it literally every day. I am still so angry.”

Concerningly, the report also backs previous evidence that victims of sexual violence face significant impacts to mental health, studies and social life.

Respondents considered or engaged in academic consequences that include 25 per cent skipping lectures, tutorials, changing or dropping certain modules to avoid the perpetrators, and 16 per cent even suspending their studies or dropping out of their degree.

Revolt Sexual Assault hopes to use the results to support their on-going campaign to give voices to student survivors. Last spring, the campaign used Snapchat videos to allow victims to share their experiences using varying degrees of anonymity allowed by facial and voice obscuration software.

Hannah Price, Founder, Revolt Sexual Assault

While at university I experienced everything from harassment and ‘casual’ groping to rape, none of which I reported – and I am not alone.

The founder of the campaign Hannah Price said: “While at university I experienced everything from harassment and ‘casual’ groping to rape, none of which I reported – and I am not alone. I set up Revolt Sexual Assault to bridge the gap between institutions and student survivors, so that the scale of this epidemic is acknowledged and addressed.”

This consultation demonstrates that the experiences shared through the videos of our campaign participants are far from tragic exceptions; they are reality for the majority of students.”

This article is part of The London Students’ campaign on behalf of Revolt Sexual Assault 


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