If you experience street harassment, remember that it is not your fault. Everyone has the right to feel safe at university. It is vital that you prioritise your own safety and security. In an emergency where you have immediate fears for your safety your first call should be to the police on 999. Follow that with a call to the University’s Security & Response Team which operates 24/7 and they will ensure appropriate support is provided, including liaising with the police or other university departments where necessary.
In non-urgent situations the Security and Response Team should be contacted as they will be able to assist you directly or connect you with the most appropriate Student Services member of staff for support.
If you are in a University hall of residence, your Wardennial Team are a local first point of contact and can assist in urgent situations. It is vital that you prioritise your own safety and security and do what is best for you in that moment. Here are a few examples of approaches you could take if you face street harassment, but only do what you feel safe and comfortable doing. Our Streets Now￼, offer the following advice for situations of Street Harassment, put together from the testimonies they’ve received:
1. Be firm - speaking in an assertive tone of voice can help get your message through.
2. Shame the behaviour, not the person - many testimonies describe how useful it can be to criticise the behaviour rather than the person. ‘Stop it. That’s harassment and women don’t enjoy it’ for example.
3. Report it - if you feel threatened in the moment, you can call 999 for immediate assistance. You can also report after the event, so always write down the time, location and a description of what has happened in case you might want to do so. You can also write to local councillors or your MP about the incident. If it is carried out by an identifiable employee, you could also write to their employer asking for measures to be taken.
U.S. charity RAINN (Rape, Assault & Incest National Network), also advise trusting your gut in situations of street harassment and offer the following strategies for keeping safe:
- Go somewhere safe. If you are being followed on the street or feel that your physical safety is in danger, going into a local business, store, coffee shop, or apartment building lobby where the harasser may be discouraged from following you, or where you can get help from a security guard.
- Report. If the street harassment occurs outside of a business or on public transportation, you can report the behaviour. If you can guess the employer of the person harassing you, for instance if they are working on a construction site, you can report the harassment to the company.
- Do what is best for you. The best thing to do if you are being harassed is whatever will make you feel most safe and comfortable. You are in no way obligated to respond to a harasser or to report them.