How we can help


What is sexual assault or harassment

Sexual abuse may take many forms. In addition to rape and sexual assault, it includes sexual harassment, i.e. any behaviour that is humiliating, intimidating or hostile, and may include actions like derogatory name-calling, belittling remarks, insults, threats, unwanted personal attention.

It can also include any form of sexual activity that takes place without the other person’s full and informed consent – involving physical contact, words, or photographs online or by text message.  

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, class, or background. The majority of rape and sexual assault are mostly carried out by someone known to the victim; a spouse, partner, friend, colleague or family member. Sexual violence can also be committed by strangers. If you’ve been sexually assaulted you don’t have to report the assault to police if you don’t want to, however only the police can carry out a formal investigation into these types of matters. 

How to report an incident

All students, staff and visitors to our campus can report an incident in any of the following ways:

  • You can report an incident anonymously via our online form - your report will be sent confidentially to dedicated staff within BU:
    Report a sexual assault or harassment
  • ​If you find yourself in an emergency situation on campus, please call 01202 962222 from a mobile or 222 from an internal landline. For off campus emergencies call 999
  • If you're deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired you can use the emergency SMS/Text: 80999 or non-emergency SMS/Text: 67101 for off campus incidents. Please note: you'll need to register your mobile phone first to use this service
  • Report to Dorset Police via theDorset Police online reporting form or by calling 101 from any phone, including a mobile. 

The university takes a zero-tolerance approach to any form of abuse and will take action against any student or staff member who is deemed to have breached the Student Disciplinary Procedures (under Conduct and Welfare) or our Staff Dignity & Respect (Harassment) Policy and Procedure.

Find support on campus

You can contact any of our teams below for further support:

  • Contact the Achieve@BU team
  • Jacquie O'Brien, Achieve@BU Officer: email [email protected] or call 01202 969696 
  • Health and wellbeing services 
  • You can also speak to an AskBU Adviser in confidence
  • Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service drop-in
    The STARS service run a drop-in at the Student Wellbeing office on the first Monday of the month, between 11am - 2pm, during term time. The service is completely confidential and supports anyone who lives, works or studies in Dorset and has been affected by some form of sexual trauma at anytime in their life, it does not have to be a recent incident and does not have to have occured in the county.

Find external support

If you want to go elsewhere for support you can always contact the below organisations: 

  • The Shores – this is the dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for Dorset, providing a comprehensive service to anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted and can support you even if you do not wish to report an incident to the police. They offer a safe and non-judgemental environment which focuses on the needs of you, the individual. All clients are treated with dignity and respect. The Shores are contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 
  • STARS: Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service 
  • NHS: Help after rape and sexual assault 
  • SurvivorsUK 

You can also find further support services on our wellbeing resources page.