How can I show up against sexual violence?

There are lots of ways to show up against sexual violence. Find out how you can get involved and help make positive change.

Sexual violence is a societal problem, and while change won’t happen overnight, each one of us can help make Leeds a place we’re proud to be. And it starts with showing up – for yourself and for each other.

Show up for yourself

Sometimes, making change starts with looking at ourselves and being honest about where we’re getting things wrong. No matter how much you know about systemic issues like sexual violence, there’s always more to learn.

Some ways you can show up for yourself are to:   

  • Learn more about sexual violence and consent. It’s tough to prevent sexual violence if you can’t recognise it when it’s happening. Find out more about sexual violence so you can act when you see it.  

  • Take the ‘Supporting Healthy Relationships’ course. All students are enrolled onto the course on Minerva at the beginning of the academic year. The short online course is designed to help you recognise, build and maintain healthy relationships. It covers topics including consent, power imbalances and coercion, bystander intervention, and how to access support if you experience or see something that concerns you.  

  • Reflect honestly on the ways you think, talk, and act, and making changes where you need to. Take a look at the pyramid of sexual violence to see why attitudes, beliefs, language and actions are important. Be honest with yourself about what you need to do differently and commit to making positive changes.  

  • Own your mistakes. We all get things wrong, the important thing is that we take accountability and commit to growing instead of getting defensive.   

  • Access support when you need it. If you’ve experienced any form of violence, abuse, discrimination, hate crime or bullying, you’re not alone. Explore support available to you on campus and in the community. Or, if reflecting on sexual violence is feeling heavy and you just want to talk to someone, you can get in touch with Samaritans any day at any time.

Show up for your community

Whether you’re already involved in sexual violence prevention, or you’re new to the conversation, there’s plenty of ways to show up for our community to make Leeds a safer place for everyone.

Sign the pledge

One of the simplest ways you can start showing up against sexual violence at Leeds is by signing the student pledge and sharing it with your friends. Signing the pledge adds your name to the growing community of students here at Leeds who are committed to learning about sexual violence, reflecting on their own behaviour, and taking action when they see sexual violence.   

Sign the pledge to show up against sexual violence. 

Fives ways to show up against sexual violence when you see it

If you see or hear something happening that’s not okay, or someone discloses something to you afterwards, use the five D’s to take action safely.  


You can directly intervene in the situation if it’s safe. To directly intervene, you could:  

  • Talk to the person causing the problem and challenge their behaviour  

  • Ask the person being targeted if they need help  

  • Use non-verbal communication to show your support for the person being targeted, for example by standing next to them  

Remember that if you’re directly intervening, it’s important to stay calm and respectful to avoid escalating an incident. Don’t intervene in a situation where you feel unsafe – instead, if you feel that the situation is an emergency and there’s an immediate threat to someone’s health or safety, call emergency services on 999.   


Your friend makes a rape joke. Instead of laughing along, you challenge them directly by asking them to repeat the joke and explain what’s funny about it.   

You’re out out with your mates. One of your friends is about to go home with someone they met at the club, and they’ve both clearly had way too much to drink. You know that neither of them are capable of giving consent, so you intervene directly and tell your friend they’ve had too much to drink and it’s time to go home. 


You can take a more indirect approach and distract the person causing harm to de-escalate the situation. To distract you could:   

  • Spill a drink or drop something  

  • Start a conversation with the person being targeted   

  • Ask the person being targeted or the person doing harm to help you with something  


You’re at a house party. You notice one of your course mates is there, chatting with someone you don’t know. Your course mate looks really uncomfortable, and when you get closer you can overhear the other person making suggestive sexual comments. You go over and say hi to your course mate and invite them to come catch up with you and some of your friends.


Delaying means that you wait until after the incident is over and then check in on the person who was harmed to see if they’re okay. This method of intervention is an important way to let the victim or survivor know they’re not alone. To check in you could:   

  • Wait around until after an incident and ask them if they’re okay   

  • Tell them where they can go for support, like the Harassment and Misconduct team  

  • Ask if there’s anything you can do to help in the moment like walking them to a safe place, helping them get home, calling a friend or something else  

Visit the ‘Give Support’ page for advice on how to support someone who has experienced abuse, violence, harassment, discrimination, or bullying.   


While studying in the library, you overhear a group comparing sexual experiences and ranking sexual partners. One of the people they’re discussing is sitting at your table. You check in with the person to see if they’re okay, let them know the comments weren’t okay, and ask them how you can help. You sit with them and fill out a disclosure form together so they can speak to the Harassment and Misconduct team. 


You can delegate action to someone else. This is a great option when you don’t feel safe to intervene, but still want to take action to help. To delegate you could:   

  • Tell a lecturer or staff member if you’re on campus  

  • Talk to your Residence Life Warden if the situation happened in a University residence  

  • Share your concerns with bar or door staff if you’re on a night out   

  • Report an incident to Security Services by calling 0113 343 5494 or through the SafeZone app  


You're hanging out in the common area of your residence hall and you overhear a group talking and laughing. You notice they’re sharing nude photos of someone else in the hall. You don’t feel comfortable saying something to the group directly, so you report the incident to your Residence Life Warden and submit a disclosure to the Harassment and Misconduct team.


If someone is already intervening and you think the situation is escalating, you can document so there’s evidence of what happened. Ways to document a situation are to:   

  • Record the situation on your phone  

  • Take a photo of the person causing harm   

  • Take notes about what’s happening   

  • Submit a disclosure about what you witnessed to the Harassment and Misconduct team  

Remember, never post or share a video without consent of the person being harmed. Posting or sharing can cause more harm than help. Instead, after the situation is over, check in on the person who was harmed to see if they’re okay, let them know you have documentation, and ask them what they’d like you to do with it.   


While walking home late after class through Hyde Park, you see another student being sexually harassed. There’s already another person intervening directly, so you take a video of the situation instead to help provide evidence. Afterwards, you check in on the person to see how you can help, share the documentation you have, and submit a disclosure to the Harassment and Misconduct team about what you witnessed.


Get involved on campus

Want to get more involved on campus? Here are some ways you can work with other students to show up against sexual violence.

Join a student society

Leeds is home to hundreds of student societies, including ones like these who are dedicated to raising awareness, educating, and campaigning on topics like consent and sexual violence:   

  • Students Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (SASHA) offers a safe space for anyone no matter your gender, race, sexuality or experiences. Awarded Student Society of the Year in the UK for 2023, SASHA works closely with the Harassment and Misconduct team to raise awareness of and campaign against sexual violence, and connect victims and survivors to support. Find out more about SASHA.   

  • Sexpression are the Leeds branch of the national charity Sexpression UK. They are dedicated to delivering fun, interactive and informative Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in the local community, and host sex-positive events and talks aimed at Leeds students. Find out more about Sexpression.   

  • LUU Feminist Society provides a support network and platform for all feminist members of the Union. They are a friendly and inclusive society dedicated to raising awareness of feminist issues and campaigning for changes. Find out more about LUU Feminist Society.  

Drop in for Tea and Chat in LUU   

If joining a society isn’t your cup of tea, check out a Tea and Chat event in LUU instead! Hosted weekly by SASHA, the drop-in events are open to anyone and often include ways to get creative and learn new skills while connecting with other students in a friendly, supportive environment. For details about upcoming Tea and Chat sessions, follow SASHA on Instagram.