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Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment/Assault is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that violates your dignity, makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated or creates a hostile or offensive environment. Read this page to find out more about sexual harassment and assault, how to report it and support available.

What is sexual harassment/assault?

Sexual harassment is repeated unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature that:

  • Makes you feel intimidated, humiliated or degraded
  • Creates a hostile environment
  • Offends you
  • Violates your dignity

Sexual harassment can be:

  • Verbal (comments about a person's body, spreading sexual rumours, sexual remarks or accusations, dirty jokes or stories)
  • Physical (grabbing, rubbing, flashing or mooning, touching, pinching in a sexual way, sexual assault) or
  • Visual (display of naked pictures or sex-related objects, obscene gestures).

Sexual harassment can happen to women and men, transgender and intersex persons, and those who are non gender-conforming. It is not limited by sexual orientation.

Sexual assault is different. Sexual assault refers to a sexual act in which a person is forced to engage against their will. It is a form of sexual violence and can include:

  • Rape
  • Groping
  • Drug facilitated sexual assault

Sexual assault is a statutory offense, meaning it can be punished by a court.

How do I report sexual harassment/assault?

There are two main ways we recommend reporting a sexual assault:

The Bridge

Call the Bridge on 0117 342 6999

The Bridge is a Bristol-based Sexual Assault Referral Service. They provide information and practical support, where you can choose whether or not to report the incident to the police.

  • A Crisis Worker will listen to what has happened to you and explain how they can help.
  • They can arrange for a doctor or nurse to examine you to check you are okay and look for forensic evidence.
  • They can store forensic samples. If you later decide to go to the police, then the samples can be used as evidence in their investigation.
    You can have an examination even if you have already washed, although there will be more DNA evidence on your body if you feel able to wait until after an examination.
  • They will make sure that your sexual health is looked after, and can give you emergency contraception if needed.
  • They will offer you practical and emotional support, including counselling.

The Police

Call 999 to report the incident, as soon as you can after the crime.

If the assault happened recently:

  • keep the clothes you were wearing and don’t wash them - the police may need them as evidence for the investigation
  • try not to shower as there may be evidence which the police can use

The police will then:

  • arrange for you to have a medical examination - and treatment for any injuries you have
  • give you support and advice
  • explain what happens next

The police have specialist teams who are trained to deal with rape and sexual assault. You can ask to speak to an officer or staff member who’s the same sex as you.

Why should I report it?

By reporting incidents or crimes when they happen to you, you may be able to prevent these incidents from happening to someone else. You will also help the police understand the extent of sexual crimes in your local area so they can better respond to it.

What other support is available?

  • The Bridge : 0117 342 6999
    Free, confidential advice. They also offer examinations for forensic evidence if the incident was less than 8 days ago. You can then choose whether or not to report the incident to the police.
  • SARSAS : Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support
    0808 801 0456 (women & girls) / 0808 801 0464 (men & boys)
    Helpline, Counselling and Anonymous Reporting
  • Victim Support : 08 08 16 89 111
    Information and support line.