After exposing my abuser I was charged with harassment by Edinburgh University
The University of Edinburgh ‘does not comment on individual cases of misconduct’
TW: Sexual assault.
After exposing her sexual abuser online, an Edinburgh Uni student has been charged with harassment by the university.
The first year student outed her alleged sexual abuser in a post on Instagram after he “touched her bum” without her consent.
Although he admitted doing this to both The Edinburgh Tab and the university, he then issued a complaint to the university on the grounds of defamation and harassment. Following this, the first year student made a complaint regarding the incident of sexual abuse.
The two investigations have since concluded resulting in both students getting a reprimand for their actions.
We spoke to both the first year student and the alleged abuser to find out more.
‘The university is horrible’
The first year student told The Edinburgh Tab: “The university found me guilty of harassment and gave me a reprimand.
“I’m not too sure how this impacts me but it can’t be good, i.e. if I get in trouble for something else the reprimand will be on my track record.
“My abuser got a reprimand too. I know that he admitted to the conduct investigator that he groped me (as well as publicly on social media, and to The Tab), yet the university ignored this”.
‘There is a 10-12 week waiting list to speak to someone qualified to give support after being assaulted at the uni’
In terms of the support being offered by the university to those who have survived instances of sexual assault, the options are limited. According to the student: “I haven’t even bothered to try and get support because of the wait times. I know I’ll have moved on by then and I’d like the support now, not in 10 weeks.
“The period of investigation was extremely stressful for me as the university was clearly not bothered by what had happened and took my abuser’s side after he filed the report against me.
“The university has shown to me and all those following this situation that victims cannot go to them for help, as they’ll blame victims and support abusers with the excuse that abusers’ mental health deteriorates when the truth is exposed.
“I’ve really been traumatised by this experience.”
‘Exposing predators is more effective than the Uni’
When asked about what she had learnt from her treatment by the university, the student said: “I’ve heard shocking stories of survivors not being believed when they report sexual assault to the university due to lack of evidence, leaving their abusers to get away with it. However in my case, my abuser admitted to groping me to the university and they still have done nothing.
“My abuser’s parents are lawyers of a high status, and in fact my abuser was accompanied to his hearing by his father. The university did not offer me any lawyer services which I find completely unfair.
“I believe this may have affected the university’s decision because they are classist.”
‘My abuser is now leaving the uni because of the reputation he earned himself’
The first year student has been inspired by her social media advocacy for herself and others to carry on working to change the way we deal with sexual violence and assault.
She said: “Despite how horribly the university have treated me and responded to my allegations, I have come out from this situation very inspired to help give survivors a voice. I hope by coming out about my experiences of SA publicly, I can inspire people to feel less of a stigma around the topic.
“I am currently working on my podcast ‘No Taboo’ (@notaboo_podcast on Instagram) and am very determined to reach a wide audience to share my experiences of SA and the aftermath from it. I want to inspire as many survivors as I can.
“I will also be inviting guest speakers of all genders to have meaningful constructive discussions on topics related to sexual assault. These events have shown me that survivors have a voice and that is should be heard, regardless of what some might think.”
While what she experienced was certainly traumatic, the student still feels that she has been able to learn from the experience: “There will always be people invalidating your experiences, like the university has in my case, but speaking about SA openly can only benefit yourself and those around you. We can’t change assaulters and the horrible things they do, but we can alter the ways in which we respond to assault.
“I have received dozens of messages from girls who have thanked me for being so open because it allowed them to come to terms with what happened to them, and feel confident and safe to open up about their experiences with sexual assault.
“Friends, family, and in some cases even strangers have reported their abusers to the police. Through sharing my story and experiences on my podcast, I hope to help give them a voice of their own.”
Moreover, the BBC reached out to the student to hear her story, in the hopes of including it in a future documentary on sexual violence in Scotland. The documentary looks into: “How universities in Scotland handle cases of sexual violence, and how Edinburgh University merely re-traumatises victims by ignoring their allegations and defending abusers.”
A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “The university does no comment on individual cases of misconduct.”
The alleged abuser declined to comment.