Your Personal Safety
It can be easy to forget to be safe when you are out and about enjoying yourself. Follow these tips for safety on and off Campus:
- Personal Safety Alarms are available from the Students' Union Shop, or from the Security Office. Alarms also include a torch. Make sure you keep your alarm where you can easily reach it. Not right at the bottom of your bag;
- If you are walking home, walk with one or more friends or housemates;
- Use the Safety Bus after taking part in late night activities;
- Keep the number of a taxi company on you;
- When walking keep to busy, well lit paths and main roads where you can stay in the centre of the pavement away from the road and any bushes;
- Carry a personal safety alarm with you;
- Make sure someone knows when you expect to be home;
- Do not leave people alone. Decide on a meeting place for if the group gets separated.
This service is free of charge and leaves from behind the Library and provides a safe journey home for those students studying or taking part in late night activities. Check the board in the Library foyer as to the timetable of the safety bus.
- Nightbus – Friday and Saturday nights from 11.30pm – 2.30am.
- N9 – Use this bus to get to Sherfield Hall, Wantage Hall, St. Patricks Hall, Hillside and Martindale Court. This bus also goes to and from Shinfield Road and Redlands Road from Central Reading.
- N21 (Becomes N64) – Use this bus to get from Central Reading to Whiteknights Campus, or to get from Whiteknights Campus to Bulmershe Campus.
- 17 – All day & Night. Use this bus to get to Bridges and Wessex Hall - A 5 minute walk from Wokingham Road to Whiteknights Road.
- University Security Services - Security staff are here to help protect you while you are on Campus. For emergencies Tel: 0118 378 6300. General enquiries Tel: 0118 378 7799.
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Some information about personal attacks
The majority are planned. Half occur in the victim's home, the attacker’s home, or in a place the victim considers to be safe. Most people know their attackers, often having met them in a social context. Sexual assault can be as indecent and as distressing as rape. It happens to women and men.
Personal attack often has short-term effects such as flashbacks, nightmares, changes in sexual behaviour, being scared to go out and broken relationships. Survivors of personal attack can often experience feelings of self-hatred, worthlessness, guilt, shame, grief, anger, anxiety, fear, distrust or isolation.
They may be subject to some, none or all of these emotions and they may lead to drug/alcohol abuse, eating disorders, phobias, self-harm or suicidal tendencies. If you do not experience any of these, you are not abnormal; you are an individual and we all react differently.
If you have experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, physical violence and/or domestic violence, remember it is not your fault.
The responsibility for violence, harassment and stalking always lies with the perpetrator, and no one deserves such violence no matter where they were, what they were doing, wearing, saying, whether they were drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Some things to consider if you have been attacked or abused:
- Sexually Transmitted Infections: you can be tested for these by a doctor in confidence. Doctors are not allowed to tell the Police what has happened to you;
- Who do you tell? Often people don't react how you would like them to. Talk to someone you can trust and know will be able to support you;
- Should you report the attack to the police? No one should try to influence you; it is entirely your decision. If you're going to report it, you should do so as quickly as possible, i.e. within 24 hours (don't wash or change your clothes, as vital evidence may be lost);
- You can take a friend with you or else you can contact a support group who will be able to offer help and advice and may be able to accompany you to the police station;
- The Police have specially trained officers who will treat you with compassion and care. You will not be interviewed at the station but invited to a 'recovery suite' where you will be allowed to go at your own pace and not be rushed for a statement;
- The Press are not allowed to print your name, even if they write about your assault. They may try to contact you but it is entirely your choice if you wish to speak to them or not;
- There are many ways you can deal with the effects of personal attack/abuse and many people to help; you do not have to go through it alone. Some prefer the anonymity of help-lines, others the personal contact of counselling, others the co-counselling which occurs within self-help groups. It is important to stress that there is nothing wrong with not liking your counsellor or self-help group. If you go to one you feel uncomfortable with, don't give up and try another. Many find methods of self-healing useful. The key is to recognise how your experience has affected your behaviour and emotions and to concentrate on your positive characteristics. Just taking up a new sport or means of self-expression such as painting or music can help. Some people find it beneficial to get directly involved with help-lines or self-help groups, proving that ultimately they are survivors, not victims;
- Finally, it is useful to note that 'Criminal Injuries Compensation' is sometimes available to survivors of violent crime to meet certain expenses such as counselling.
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- Always create strong passwords for online accounts and update them regularly on social media sites. Longer passwords (8-10 characters) that contain letters, numbers and symbols are more secure. Avoid using the same password for multiple social media sites;
- Be cautious of the information you post publicly such as your Customer Reference Number, address or date of birth. Use the site’s privacy settings to limit who can see your personal information and posts;
- Be careful who you befriend. You put yourself at risk by not taking the time to filter who you accept into your inner circle. Friend requests can be used by social bots to hack your network and by phishers trying to steal your personal information;
- Stay up-to-date with changes to your social network’s settings as small changes can cause big problems. If a site decides to changes its privacy settings or policy this could leave your personal details more publicly available than they had been previously;
- Review your social media profiles. Always consider how others may view the information you provide about yourself, your family and your friends and remember that social media sites are public resources.
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There are both local and national support services available to you that are designed to give you the advice and practical help you need.
Victim Support is a national charity giving free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected. Victim Support are not a government agency or part of the police and you don't have to report a crime to the police to get there help. You can call Victim Support any time after the crime has happened, whether it was yesterday, last week or several years ago.
Call the Victim Supportline on 0845 30 30 900 to get help now or for more information.
Support for men
SurvivorsUK provides information and emotional support for adult men (18 and over) who have experienced childhood sexual abuse or adult sexual assault/rape.
You can call the SurvivorsUK helpline 08451221201 on Monday and Tuesday, 7pm until 9.30pm and on Thursdays 12pm until 2.30pm.
Support for women
Hidden Marks is specifically designed for female students who have been subjected to rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, physical violence and/or domestic violence.
The Hidden Marks website is comprised of three main sections:
• Support: This section provides information about national support services for victims of rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, physical violence and domestic violence including confidential helpline telephone numbers, websites and drop-in centres.
• Supporting a friend: This section provides information and advice about what to do if a friend of yours has experienced/is experiencing violence, harassment or stalking.
• Rights and reporting: This section includes information about the law related to the different types of offences; how to access free legal advice; pros and cons of reporting an incident to the police or your institution; what happens when you report and incident to the police; how to contact the police.
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