Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week on Ulster Uni’s Coleraine Campus

For Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, several community organisations such as Women’s Aid and Common Youth were invited by the Wellbeing Department to the Coleraine Campus on Wednesday 8th February.

Deirdre Scullion, the ‘Safe and Healthy Relationships Advisor’ for Ulster University stated the day was “really an opportunity for students to be aware of the key services in the community that will be there should they choose to report an experience of sexual violence.”

Deirdre Scullion, Safe and Healthy Relationships Advisor

The ‘Safe and Healthy Relationships Advisor’ role is relatively new, only being introduced in September. “We are looking at creating awareness in education around the issue of consent, active consent, as well as some education and awareness of being the Bystander,” Deirdre said. “We have been having some really interesting conversations with [students] in recent weeks about delivering workshops to the University around these subjects…[and] exploring the option around sexual health clinics and how we can develop them to be more available at the university campuses.”

The Bridge was lined with stalls of different community groups, all of them there for the Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, “For me personally,” Deirdre commented, “at my student wellbeing stall, it was actually about hearing the voice of students…they were delighted to see that we were talking about this subject, and they wish it was talked about more.”

Despite the enthusiasm heard from students, Deirdre was also aware that some students struggle to talk about this subject. One of the things promoted was the ‘Report and Support System,’ an online platform where a student can report an ‘unwanted sexual experience’ or ‘experience of sexual violence’ either anonymously or to an advisor.

Safe and Healthy Relationships Advisor, Deirdre Scullion, talks about Ulster University’s ‘Report and Support System.’

“Essentially we want to be that gateway for students if that’s what they want and ultimately, it’s about promoting choice and giving the student all the options about what they want to do in relation to the experience that they’ve had, and if it’s only to listen, that’s ok.”