We are working towards ISVA's being based at all university campuses. An ISVA is an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, they are able to support survivors both practically and emotionally - whether this be helping with the reporting process and their options or just simply being an ear.
Why is it so important?
Throughout Say it Loud's work with survivors of sexual violence, a key issue that continues to come up through discussion from survivors is the lack of support universities provide.
Recent research from Everyone's invited shows the distressingly, but not surprisingly high cases of sexual violence within universities and schools. Everyone's Invited named 119 universities through their testimonies - however, express that there are far more unnamed universities that are encouraging and/or bystanders to rape culture.
Studies have shown that almost two thirds of students and graduates have reported to being a victim of sexual assault or a victim of rape. To further this, 62% have experienced sexual violence at UK universities. This figure rises to 70% of female respondents, 48% of which have experienced sexual assault, and 73% of respondents with a disability, where 54% have experienced sexual assault. It has therefore become imperative that victims of sexual violence receive responsive treatment where their needs are prioritised in order to make the transition from victim to survivor – this can only be achieved if there is subsequent training involved.
From our work within proving support for survivors at Brookes University and the University of Salford, we are wanting to campaign for ALL universities to have an ISVA based on campus.
An ISVA is an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor - they are able to provide not only emotional support but practical. ISVA's can provide support in reporting, going through the court case, and speaking to loved ones/professionals about their experiences.
Many students have been victim-blamed for their experiences, many being asked what they wore, how much they drank, and even punished for bringing their perpetrators to light.
As a result of the practices at different universities in convergence with the statistics, it is clear why ISVA's are crucial for universities to have.