Trigger Warning: Talk of rape and sexual assault, which some readers may find distressing.
During the summer, the Sexual Consent Awareness Society released a survey to understand the prevalence of sexual assault within the sports community at Southampton University.
The survey was anonymous, and those who filled out the survey consented to their answers being used by SCA.
As one of their goals for this year, SCA are working with VP Sports and VP Welfare to find ways to improve on this issue within the sports community, as well as attempt to tackle various stereotypes and myths regarding consent, and especially draw attention to the issues specific to sports communities, such as initiations and excessive drinking that could lead to sexual assault. Though these issues are not exclusive to sports communities, it is understood that this culture creates an environment of sexual misconduct, as well as ‘lad culture’ attitudes that need to be tackled. And before you say it, no, not all men, not all sports teams, not all sports. Just enough for it to be an issue.
The full report of the survey will be released shortly before Freshers’ Week, but SCA are releasing some of the initial results.
Some people used this survey to report their own, or somebody else’s, assault or rape. It is entirely your choice if you want to report it to the relevant authorities, including the SUSU Harassment Tool, but SCA implore you to look at the support available at the bottom of this report regardless. We appreciate so much how hard it must have been for people to talk about this, and our Facebook page is only a message away if you need further advice and guidance.
Sexual Assault reported
The survey gained an astounding 126 responses, most from leadership positions and society members.
When asked if people had been a victim of sexual assault and harassment in any setting, 62% reported yes.
When asked if they had been or known someone who had been a victim of sexual assault in a sports setting, club or community, an equally shocking 51% reported yes, with 13% unsure.
‘Drunk female parts of sports societies [are]always seen as ‘up for it’…hooking up with other au members is deemed part of the social aspect…[this]is encouraged by sports gossip pages’.
‘Quite often consent is obtained after persuasion…chants forcing individuals to ‘get naked’…[and]those in leadership positions must ensure that all members do not feel uncomfortable with [this].’
When asked if they believe a sexual assault happened (to themselves or others) because of someone’s gender identity, sexuality, religion or ethnicity, 25% said yes and 15% were unsure. Many comments elaborated with a particular focus on sexual assault motivated or based on sexual orientation, gender and race.
‘A friend was assaulted…with comments made on her ethnicity.’
Many comments also shared sexual assault happening against male members of the sports team, though most of the comments highlighted they believed sexual assault is more prevalent in male dominated teams, and is more aimed at women.
SCA understand the limitations of this small bit of research, and would like others to understand that even if it wasn’t reported through SCA’s sports survey, it is still possible that men have been assaulted and not understood or known, and that LGBT+ sports members may have been. Part of this survey is highlighting that it happens, so that we can then begin to explore this more in depth with other communities.
Access to resources
When asked if they were aware of the resources available, a total of 65% of people answered either ‘no’ or that they were unsure, suggesting an issue with the marketing of these resources to students.
When asked how well Southampton provides the resources and support for victims, 50% put it at a ‘3’ (out of 5), with an additional 25% putting it as a ‘1’ or ‘2’ and only 14% said ‘4’ or ‘5’.
When asked how well Southampton markets these resources, just 16.5% put this at a ‘4’ or a ‘5’ but a larger percentage answered with ‘1’ and ‘2’.
These results show that there is an issue to tackle within sports communities, and SCA and various other societies that we are going to be working with over the next year are dedicated to doing what we can to offer support, raise awareness and reduce those numbers through education.
SCA seek to educate, inform and provide support for anybody affected by sexual assault. The best way to educate yourself is to reach out – if you have been affected by this, or if you are even someone who is worried they overstepped boundaries, please just reach out!
We have already been in talks with VP Welfare Isabella Camilleri and VP Sports Steve Gore, to discuss the best way forward to help tackle this issue, taking into account all the comments put forward about the need for more education on the topic and we will be reevaluating the communications strategy to ensure the resources available are better marketed.
If any of the above affects you, below are resources you can reach out to:
Yellow Door Helpline from 4-7pm and can be called on 023 8063 6313.
For urgent help, you can contact Treetops on: 0300 123 6616. They are a crisis service.
For Mental Health support, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
If you are at immediate risk, always call 999.
Letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk (free condoms and STD tests)
This NHS funded clinic offers free condoms and STD tests to anyone in Hampshire. They can be delivered by post, completely free and in very discreet packaging. For STD results they can all be done by yourself and receive results in 5-10 days.
Enabling Services drop in
The Enabling Services drop in from 3-5pm every weekday is there as an initial port of call for students who need someone to talk to, who can then be signposted to relevant and appropriate services depending on their circumstance.
First Support and Student Life
The First Support number can be found on the back of your ID card.
VP Welfare, Welfare Officers, SCA.
The Safety Bus at www.susu.org/support.