Society Spotlight: Sexual Consent Awareness Southampton

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Sexual assault is an increasingly prevalent topic, both in global society and at a much more local level. From the two reported assaults during freshers’ week right here in Southampton to Hollywood’s abuse of power, it is clear that action needs to be taken.

Sexual Consent Awareness Southampton is a movement led by students from across the university who are passionate about taking steps to prevent assault and promote sexual health. At its core, our society is about tackling the taboo and stigma associated with these topics to stop abuse and support victims to help them move forward.

Our society reaches across all aspects of student life, with representative positions for everything from University of Southampton and SUSU-run halls and sports to external groups on our committee. Newcomers motivated to make a difference are always welcome, no matter their background or experience.

We believe that one is not victim to sexual assault based on what they wear, their gender, sexuality or background. We strive to be a mode of support through our connections with other organisations, within the city of Southampton and nationwide, including Yellow Door, LGBT+ and Sexpression. SCA Soton should be somewhere people can trust and go to, whether they are just looking for someone to listen, are concerned about a friend or want to fight harassment and abuse.

Part of our work is focused on promoting the importance of sexual health in all communities and the importance of using protection. Testing for STDs and looking after oneself within relationships, both romantic and sexual, is crucial, and can sometimes be understated. Across the coming year, we are striving to run more events related to this, from educational talks to clinics. We also believe that consent is blind, and want to highlight abuse where men are the victims to combat assumptions and stigma, and work to prevent the spread.

Since forming in the last academic year, SCA Soton has had an immediate profile around campus. SCA Week is our most public time, taking place in February of each year. In 2017, we co-ordinated with Southampton nightclubs signing a protective charter, held activities and distributed condoms with SCA-based slogans. Already this year you might have seen our light blue #ExpectRespect wristbands or teal shirts around. The sexual consent tree that invited people to share what consent meant to them on the SUSU concourse had an amazing response and the No Worries Wednesday fayre organised by SUSU’s Vice President Welfare Sam Higman was a visible success.

Some of our plans for the future include halls-wide activities with an emphasis on targeting freshers, blanket coverage media campaigns and an increased focus on tackling abuse within sports culture. We want to source training in SCA-related areas, and grow connections across the country. This year’s SCA Week will be a great opportunity to help raise awareness, but we are working all year round to achieve our aims. Whether you have a great idea for an event we could help with, how we could run a campaign, or if you just want to get involved, please message our Facebook page. Discussions will always remain confidential, and that will never change.

If this topic is affecting you personally, you can find help and support from Yellow Door, MIND, Halls Welfare Officers, the SUSU Advice Centre, the University’s Enabling Services, Steps2Wellbeing or from your GP.

(Written by Laura Barr & Dave Williams)

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