Sexual violence is a term used to describe any kind of sexual activity that was unwanted or happened without consent. This can include but is not restricted to rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, indecent exposure, online forms of sexual bullying and abuse, revenge porn, abusive or degrading comments of a sexual nature, spiking and female genital mutilation (FGM). 

Anyone can be subjected to sexual violence, regardless of gender or sexuality. 

If you have been subjected to something which is not covered by this definition, or you are unsure of the nature of your experience, we can support you. 

You have the right to say no to any unwanted sexual advances to you. If anyone coerces, forces, or manipulates you to do anything sexual that you do not wish to experience, then they committing sexual violence and breaking the law. The blame should always fall on the person that has chosen to commit the act of sexual violence, it is never the fault of the person being subjected to it. 

Sexual harassment is a type of sexual violence. It is any unwanted sexual behaviour that makes someone feel upset, scared, offended, unsafe, or humiliated, or is meant to make them feel that way. Sexual harassment can be a one-off incident or an ongoing pattern of behaviour. 

Sexual harassment can range from behaviour that stems from obvious to anyone or subtler behaviour less obvious to either the person responsible for the behaviour or to the recipient. Often the impact is not felt or witnessed immediately. Sexual harassment can include but is not limited to sexual comments or noises for example catcalling, following, making unnecessary and unwanted physical contact, sexual jokes and comments, giving unwelcome personal gifts, wolf-whistling, leering, derogatory comments, unwelcome comments about a person’s body or clothing, unwelcome questions about a person’s sex life and/or sexuality, engaging in unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations and flirtation, making somebody feel uncomfortable through displaying or sharing sexual material. Sexual harassment does not necessarily occur face to face and can be in the form of emails, visual images (such as sexually explicit pictures on walls in a shared environment), social media, telephone, text messages and image based sexual abuse, such as revenge porn and upskirting. 

The Law on Sexual Harassment:

The Equality Act 2010 protects people against sexual harassment and harassment related to “protected characteristics” for example a person’s sex. Find out more about protected characteristics. Further information about behaviours that may amount to sexual harassment can be found in the University's  Policy on Harassment and Bullying.

At work, the law covers:
  • Employees and workers
  • Contractors and self-employed people hired to personally do the work
  • Job applicants 

More Information:
If you think you have been subjected to sexual violence including sexual harassment, it may be hard to know what to do or how to feel. What happened was not your fault. What you do next is your choice.

If you are a student, find out what report and support options are available to you at the University of Birmingham.
For staff, to access further support, submit a report with your contact details via Report and Support and an appropriate person will contact you.

There are two ways you can tell us what happened