Trigger Warning: Suicide, Sexual Assault
It has been a heavy week. What started off being so empowering and positive as we celebrated women across the world, has been followed by global news coverage of some of the harsh realities which women still face.
We share the anger, frustration and fear amongst our community. In light of the backlash and lack of belief Meghan Markle received for speaking out about her experience of suicidal thoughts and the devastating recent news of the death of Sarah Everard.
In wake of International Women's Day #ChooseToChallenge campaign, it seems only right that we challenge the gaslighting which happens when a woman publicly speaks out about an experience whether that is mental health related, harassment or something else. This week the same media outlets which promoted ‘be kind’, publicly minimised someone’s suicidal thoughts. Whilst that message may never reach Meghan Markle, we encourage you to be considerate and careful as your peers or family members who are experiencing ill mental health will see your reaction and it could severely impact them.
The shocking statistic of 97 per cent of UK women have been sexually harassed doesn’t come of much of a surprise, but has simply confirmed what all women already knew. Most women have had experiences of walking with keys in their hands, calling someone whilst walking home, choosing to not leave home when it is dark, receiving or sending a ‘home safe?’ text messages, or locking the car door from the inside. These behavioural changes are taught and ingrained in women from a very young age in order to keep them safe, but they shouldn’t have to change their behaviours to protect themselves from situations which should not be occurring in the first place.
We all need to speak out and actively be allies. Have these conversations with your friends, challenge misogynistic behaviour and sexist language, support the people around you, be prepared to listen when someone says something has happened to them. These are active decisions you need to make which help make society safe. As an SU we regularly have held bystander training sessions and are hoping to facilitate more of them in the near future.
Events this week highlight the continued need to campaign for gender equality and to end violence against women. We know many of you may be attending #ReclaimTheseStreets events this weekend, if you do we encourage you to stay safe and stick to the Covid-19 government guidance.
There are two main messages we want you to take away from this:
- For women and everyone who is struggling with these issues: this week has been so heavy and may have affected you in a number of ways - look after yourself. Below is a list of resources and helplines you can call if needed
- Everyone, people in your life may have experienced these issues. We encourage you, now and every day, to check in with your friends and start meaningful conversations about these issues
Where can you access support?
Report and Support -
We encourage all students to use the Report and Support tool if the experience or witness any form of harassment. You can report anonymously or receive support from an advisor.
What if I don’t want to report, but want support?
If you do not want to make a report, you can still access the same support services, through the wellbeing advisors in Student Services or SU Advice and Support.
Bath Nightline - We'll Listen, Not Lecture - A fantastic student run, confidential service which you can talk to from 8pm to 8am. You can talk to them about anything, so if you’re walking alone and want to talk to someone you can give them a ring.
Be Well – Talk Now - A 24 hour 7 day a week service which allows you to talk to an advisor and talk through any problems you may have.
Samaritans - Call the Samaritans on 116 123 to speak to an impartial volunteer 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
The Bridge- Based in Bristol, The Bridge offers 24/7 support after rape and sexual assault, for both victims and friends of family of someone who has been affected by sexual assault.
Women’s Aid Helpline - 0808 2000 247 (24 hours 7 days a week)
PGRs can reach out to the Independent Advisor to report any issues which you may come across with your supervisor and you may feel uncomfortable to raise because you may feel it will affect you successfully completion of your PhD.