We are aware that there are many factors and reasons why students may choose to delay disclosing and/or reporting unacceptable behaviours they have been subject to, or decide not to disclose at all. Wherever you are or want to be in your process, we understand and will support you in your next steps.

Whether you decide to disclose or not, we are working to reduce the barriers to disclosure and reporting in order to offer the most appropriate support for you. Below, we have highlighted a few barriers to disclosure and reports of sexual misconduct and how we can support you to overcome these. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list.  

I’m worried I won’t be believed.

We know that people rarely lie about experiencing unacceptable behaviours, but unfortunately, societal myths about certain types of incidents (such as sexual misconduct and assault) has sometimes led to the reporting party not feeling believed. 

At Swansea University, staff dealing with disclosures, such as our Sexual Violence Liaison Officers (SVLOs) have received training on how to deal with disclosures and ensure that students do not feel disbelieved throughout the process of support or investigation, regardless of how they choose to move forward. We are also working on creating and providing guidance to all members of staff dealing with disclosures. 

As part of our work to tackle sexual misconduct, we are working on create training, campaigns and resources on different topics including myths around sexual misconduct, bystander intervention and consent.   

I’ve told someone in the past, but they didn’t take me seriously and/or nothing happened.

We understand that it can be distressing if you have disclosed your experience to someone in the past and either not been believed or no action has been taken. Distrust in the way the university, police (if involved) and society more broadly will respond is understandable, especially if you have had a previous negative experience. You might fear you will be silenced, ignored or even that you will lose control of the situation.

If you choose to disclose and be contacted, an SVLO will be there to listen and discuss your options fully. They will listen to your previous experience and help you understand the support you can receive within the University and externally. 

I’m concerned it might impact my future career/studies or that I’ll be called a troublemaker.

Fear of retaliation is the fear that there will be negative consequences for disclosing an incident. This could include fear that the report may have an impact upon career prospects, studies, and social life, either because one can be ostracised from a group or team, become the subject of gossip or worryingly, being approached and intimidated by the reported party.

Since submitting a disclosure will not start a formal investigation, the information you give us will not be shared beyond the relevant staff without your consent unless you or others are at significant risk. Your confidentiality will be respected.

We understand that your fear of retaliation might increase if you decide to take formal steps to report to the police or the university. A SVLO will be happy to have an informal chat with the disclosing student before any formal complaints are submitted. Once a formal complaint is submitted, the university can provide you with ongoing support throughout the process. We also have adjustments that can be put in place during any formal investigations, such as ensuring safe accommodation, academic adjustments, and welfare checks.

If you experience retaliation, you can get support from a SVLO. We want to change the culture, not only to prevent incidents but also to promote an environment where disclosing students will not fear retaliation.

I feel embarrassed/ashamed/guilty

Feelings of shame, guilty and embarrassment are sadly too common when it comes to experiencing these types of incidents. You may feel like it is your fault and blame yourself. When it comes to sexual misconduct incidents, these feelings are reinforced by societal myths and misinformed media that often shift the blame and make one feel like they should have been able to prevent an incident or not take it as seriously. 

In our community, we are actively working on campaigns and awareness-raising resources to tackle these myths. A culture change is needed, and we want to be a part of that.

Our SVLOs can also help you understand and overcome these feelings by referring you to Student Support and Wellbeing’s counselling or mental health services. We also have a support page on tackling sexual misconduct myths. 

Remember that you are never to blame in these circumstances. The blame lies solely with the perpetrator.


There are two ways you can tell us what happened