Skip to main content

Social Work Division offers resources for universities to improve sexual violence response


The USVreact (Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence) Project, based in the Social Work Division at Brunel, has just made available training models and materials for universities across the sector to adapt and use.

The Universities UK (2016) report Changing The Culture recommended that all universities develop ‘effective prevention and response’ to sexual violence and harassment. Resources for response have been developed by the USVreact project and are now free to download. 

USVreact is the short name for the Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence project which has developed, piloted and evaluated evidence-based and innovative models of training for university staff in order to improve institutional ‘first response’ to disclosures of sexual violence. This cross national 7-Partner project engaged academic experts and local support services in each partner university to develop a programme of learning for staff that was specific to the referral and support services in that area, and reflected the specific contexts. The ‘first responder’ training in each of the universities addressed how to support students after disclosure of sexual violence, harassment or abuse, ensuring that they are treated with respect, dignity, sensitivity to their specific needs with access to criminal justice avenues if they wish.

Training covered:

  • The importance of challenging victim blaming
  • Offering support to anyone affected, noting gender stereoptypes and the victimization of men as well as women
  • The limited role of a ‘first responder’ and the value of specialist support from organisations such as those run by survivors.

The project grew out of feminist research, particularly UK research on sexual harassment, ‘lad culture’ and sexual violence at universities by the NUS (2010, 2014) and by academics Alison Phipps, Carolyn Jackson, Vanita Sundaram and Rachel Fenton. Phipps and Sundaram were Partners on the project. It was co-funded by the European Commission’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme from March 2016 to February 2018.

Follow @USVreact on Twitter, or read the final report from the USVreact project.

Brunel staff can register their interest for a ‘Supporting Students Disclosing Sexual Violence’ by selecting from this workshop list.

Written by Dr Pam Alldred, Principal Investigator of the USVreact project