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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Advice and Support on Sexual Harassment and Assault

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Advice and Support on Sexual Harassment and Assault

This document provides advice on the sources of assistance and support which are available to you if you have been sexually harassed or assaulted. At the end of the document there is a list of useful contacts and websites.

The College’s statement on sexual harassment and assault can be found here.

After an assault

It can be difficult to talk about an assault to friends or family yet it is very important to have understanding and support. There are a number of different people you may choose to contact for support and advice. There is no single or correct route by which to seek support.

You can contact the University's Sexual Assault and Harassment Officer who is based at the University Counselling Service for both practical and emotional support. 

Within College the following people are available to support and advise you:

  • The Senior Tutor
  • Your Tutor
  • Any other Tutor who you wish to approach
  • The Executive Graduate Tutor
  • The College Counsellor
  • The College Nurse

In addition, each year the JCR and MCR committee will nominate a representative who can also provide advice (usually the Welfare Officer). This representative is not expected to continue to provide support but to ensure a student has advice on where to go for that support.

All of the individuals in this list are offered training by Cambridge Rape Crisis on supporting students who are victims of assault or harassment every year.

In an Emergency or Immediately Following an Assault

Go to somewhere that you feel safe. If you need the Police or other services contact them immediately by dialling 999.

The advice provided by Rape Crisis can be accessed here:

In College, the Porters Lodge will always be a safe place from where you can contact help and assistance. The Porter on duty can contact the Senior Tutor, or other tutor, provide useful telephone numbers, or summon assistance on your behalf.

There are many practical things that the College can do to assist you and by contacting one of those listed above you will be able to access that help. They will also advise you on, and direct you to, any professional support and counselling services that you may need. Whoever you approach the matter will be treated sensitively and in confidence.

In addition, the members of the JCR and the MCR and the Welfare Officers at CUSU and the Graduate Union are people from whom you can seek help and advice.

What can the College do to support you?

No one should feel that they need to cope on their own and talking to someone about harassment or an assault is important in and of itself. This is true whether you talk to someone soon after an incident has taken place or at some later date.

Whoever you decide to approach in College they will direct you to, or provide, the following services, as appropriate to your needs:

  • counselling
  • health advice and treatment
  • support for your general wellbeing in college
  • adjustments to your academic work and support
  • measures to protect your personal safety
  • providing advice about the complaint procedures available to you
  • respecting your confidentiality
  • helping you to decide whether to approach the Police
  • reporting a sexual assault
  • information about sexual assault referral centres
  • other sources of support and advice


You may wish to speak to the College Counsellor or to someone at the University Counselling Service - both are professionally qualified and experienced in helping those who have been harassed or assaulted. Equally, there are support services external to the University and the College which may be appropriate, including those which may be accessed via your GP. Your Tutor, or another of those listed above, will be able to discuss these options with you so that you can reach a decision as to what would be appropriate for you.

Health advice and treatment

Following an assault you may have concerns about your health. You may decide to be tested for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you prefer not to see your GP, there are clinics which offer free and confidential advice - hospitals and your GP will see you on a confidential basis and they will not report an assault to the Police unless you request this. Your Tutor, or another of those listed above, will be able to discuss these options with you if you so wish.

Support for your general wellbeing

There are many ways in which the effects of harassment or an assault may be felt - and it is likely that everyone will experience things differently. For example, you may have difficulty in sleeping or eating, and concentration may be difficult. Practical adjustments to academic or other arrangements may be required, and your Tutor, or another of those listed above, will be able to advise you and help you make appropriate arrangements. Possible actions can be discussed, and together you can decide what help may be appropriate.

Adjustments to your academic work and support

In some cases following an assault people find it difficult to continue studying in the short-term. Your Tutor would be able to discuss this with you, suggest where further advice and support might be obtained, liaise with your faculty and others, and talk to you about your options for interrupting and then resuming your studies. There may be issues about examinations or course work and again you Tutor will be able to advise you.

Measures to protect your personal safety

Following an assault it is important that you should feel safe and, as far as possible, able to continue your normal activities and your academic work. It is important that you should feel that your accommodation is secure and that you can use College and university facilities without fear. Your Tutor, or another of those listed above, will be able to discuss any changes to accommodation or other measures which may be needed. If you feel threatened by a particular individual there may be further measures that the College can take to help ensure your safety. If you have been harassed by or feel threatened by someone who is a member of the College appropriate action will be considered to help ensure that you feel safe. In serious cases such action might include placing restrictions on another person so as to help ensure that you can continue to use College facilities without coming into contact with that individual. If, as a result of a Police investigation or judicial process, a member of the College is found to have committed a criminal offence, the College will also consider appropriate disciplinary action.

Providing advice about the complaint procedures available to you

If you have experienced harassment in any form the University and College Harassment and Sexual Misconduct procedures are both available to you and your Tutor, or another of those listed above, will assist and advise you in using it. If you have been harassed by another member of the College and you wish to bring a formal complaint against that person, your Tutor will again support and represent you throughout the process. The College will not tolerate harassment and will use its full disciplinary powers to prevent or put a stop to any instances of it. When the complaint concerns the behaviour of a student from another college, or staff in the wider university, the College will support the student in following the appropriate complaints procedure. Because of the need for high-quality investigating processes, and the need for common standards, it is likely that the College would recommend using university-wide procedures for sexual harassment or assault ( ).

Respecting your confidentiality

The College will respect your confidentiality if you report harassment or an assault. Your Tutor, or any other senior member of the College to whom you speak, will discuss with you any information which may need to be passed to others in College or elsewhere. No personal information will be shared beyond the tutorial system without your agreement. The College is committed to protecting confidential information and ensuring that it is not unwittingly shared with others. However, the College does have a wider duty of care and if it is considered that you or anyone else may be at risk of further harm the College may need to report a crime to the Police.

Helping you to decide whether to approach the police

In the case of a serious sexual assault the College would encourage you to report the assault to the police. Your Tutor, or another of those listed above, will of course support you in considering this and in reaching your decision. If you decide to report an assault to the police your Tutor will be available to accompany and support you in meeting the police if you wish them to do so. You may prefer to be accompanied by a friend. More details about reporting an assault to the police are included below. The College will support you during any subsequent investigation by the police.

Further advice is available from a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (see below). If you visit one of these centres you are under no obligation to report an assault to the police, but any forensic samples taken at the centre will be kept on record in case you do decide to report the assault, or they can be used anonymously by police officers as intelligence on potential serial offenders. The nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre to Cambridge is the Elms in Huntingdon. The Senior Tutor, or your Tutor, can come with you if you decide to use it, should you want them to. The College's medical taxi scheme can be used to provide transportation there and back (please speak to your Tutor, the  Senior Tutor or College Nurse for authorisation; out of hours, the Porters are able to contact the Senior Tutor).

Reporting a sexual assault

Cambridgeshire Police force has specially trained police officers to deal with crimes of sexual violence. When someone contacts the police to report a sexual assault, the duty police officer will call out a specially trained officer who will then carry out the investigation.

For information and advice on reporting rape see the information on Rapecrisis England website. At the police station, the person reporting the attack will be interviewed (and a statement will be produced) and a medical examination performed. The woman or man involved has the right to have a friend with them while giving a statement. The police may ask personal questions, but no one should feel that they have to answer these if they are unable to do so. A detailed examination is performed to obtain evidence, and if a woman reports the crime a female police officer will be present. The medical examination does not include pregnancy testing or testing for any sexually transmitted disease. These tests can be carried out at any sexual health clinic.

Information about Sexual Assault Referral Centres

Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) are specialist 24/7 services for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. They aim to be one-stop services, providing the following under one roof: medical care and forensic examination following assault/rape, counselling and - in some locations - sexual health services. Services are free of charge and provided to women and men. Most SARCs are able to offer services to anyone including those who do not wish to report the assault to the police (‘self-referrals').

The sexual assault referral centre for Cambridgeshire is based at The Elms, in Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon and is available 24/7 to victims by calling 01480 425003 during office hours or 0800 193 5434 out of office hours. There are also SARCs in Ipswich (Suffolk, one hour away), Norwich (Norfolk, 1 hour 20 minutes away) and London.

Other sources of support and advice

The University's advice to students who feel that they are being harassed and its advice to students are available on its Breaking the Silence website.

The Rape and Sexual Assault Support Centre provides a free a national helpline on 08451 221 331. The helpline is open 12.00-2.30 pm and 7.00-9.30 pm every day of the year, providing support for female and male survivors, partners, family and friends. Support is also available from the Emerald Centre.

Cambridge Rape Crisis provides a phone line twice a week which offers a confidential service of support and information provided over the telephone.

Victim Support provide a confidential phone line for support and information on any crime. The NHS also provides information and advice on help and support after sexual assault.


University Counselling Service

Professional counsellors and therapists to whom students can talk in order to work through issues that affect them.

2-3 Bene't Place, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EL Tel: 01223 332865



CUSU(Cambridge University Students Union)

CUSU can provide information, advocacy, resources and support in understanding your options and going through College and University procedures.

17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

Tel: 01223 333313 (Fax: 01223 333179)



Disability Resource Centre

The DRC provides information and advice on disability issues. Keynes House, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1QA

Tel: 01223 332301 (Text / phone: 01223 764085)



Graduate Union

The GU works on issues that affect Graduate Students at the University, and can support individual students.

17 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX Tel: 01223 333312



Helpline run by students for students (Full Term only, 7pm-7am). 21 Jesus Lane, Cambridge CB5 8BQ

Tel: 01223 367575 or Network (7)44444.


NHS Direct

Tel: 111

24-hour medical advice and information helpline.


Police - Cambridgeshire

Tel: 999 (emergencies); 0845 456 456 4 (all non-emergency enquiries)


The Samaritans (Cambridge Branch)

Befriending helpline for those in crisis or despair. 4 Emmanuel Road, Cambridge CB1 1JW.

24-hour helpline: 01223 364455 or 08457 909090