There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around behaviours that you may be considering reporting. These can contribute to barriers to disclosure, a higher occurrence of such incidents, and inadequate assistance for those who have experienced them. This page presents some of the most common myths and misconceptions around different forms of harassment. We hope to break down barriers to disclosure and empower those who have experienced such incidents to come forward and disclose via Report + Support. 

Remember, a disclosure does not trigger a formal complaint so, if you don't know how to define what you have experienced or are worried about what will happen next, an advisor will be happy to provide non-judgemental support and discuss any concern that you might have to help you make an informed decision.


Myth: Reporting a bully will worsen the situation. 
Reality: You might fear that reporting a bully could escalate the bullying or lead to disbelief. It's crucial to confide in a trusted person to seek help in stopping it. Whilst reporting bullying may feel scary, if left unchecked this could lead to further unacceptable behaviour, with a major impact on the person or people who are being targeted.
Myth: Deleting a comment or post means it's not bullying. 
Reality: Even if something is deleted online, it can still be shared, copied, and continue to cause distress. It is important to understand why that was posted in the first place and ensure the person or people affected receive adequate support.
Myth: Online bullying is just harmless banter. 
Reality: Cyberbullying is a serious issue that can quickly go viral, causing an escalation. It is a good idea to keep records by taking screenshots of bullying conversations, messages, or posts, and reach out to a trusted person for support and advice. Cyberbullying does not only affect the person or people being targeted directly, it affects everyone.
Myth: Cyberbullying doesn't involve physical harm. 
Reality: Cyberbullying can have a major impact on people and has pushed some individuals to physical and emotional self-harm. Emotional scars can persist, making it hard to move forward. If the behaviour is not challenged online, some people may also think that it is okay to replicate it offline. it is important to address and stop bullying behaviour before it escalates any further.
Myth: Bullies have more power.
Many people might believe that by making others laugh or by bullying someone else, they will become popular and they won't be bullied themselves. The reality is that just because someone laughs at a "joke", that does not mean they will like the person who made it, or that they will think they are "cool". People who bully often pretend to be more powerful than others just so that they can get the focus away from their own insecurities. It is important to raise any concern around bullying as soon as possible so that the behaviour can be addressed.

Myth: Bullying only takes place among children
Reality: While bullying is a concern in children, adults can also display cruelty towards one another. They may engage in exclusion at social events, spread rumours, use social media to slander others, and perpetuate the very same stressful power dynamics they criticise on the playground. In a work environment this behaviour can be quite difficult to challenge as people might think that someone else, perhaps a more senior colleagues, has more power over them. Whether power is real or perceived, bullying is never okay and must be addressed.
Myth: People are born bullies
Reality: Bullying is a learned behaviour and behaviours can be changed if the individual is held to account. Some people may be so used to engage in certain behaviours, that they might not realise the effect that such behaviours have on others. It is important to raise any concern and try to address these informally, if safe to do so. If behaviours persist, then it may be a good idea to raise these with a trusted contact so that further options can be explored.
Myth: Bullying is just a short-term problem
Reality: Bullying can persist over an extended period, and its repercussions may linger for even longer. It's crucial to recognise that bullying doesn't necessarily cease after high school or university; some bullies transition into becoming workplace bullies. The presence of adult bullies in the workplace can significantly impact one's wellbeing and job satisfaction. However, this is a cycle that can be broken if the behaviour is challenged and the person responsible held to account.

Myth: Racism isn't a problem in the UK. 
Reality: Racism remains an issue in Britain, with surveys and reports revealing racial prejudices at all levels of our society. This can often lead to hate incidents and hate crimes. Racism affects many lives.
Myth: I'm not proficient in English, so I can't report. 
Reality: If reporting to the police, they can provide assistance in understanding and communicating your report, including written information, Easy Read formats, or interpreters if necessary. There also lots of organisations which offer translator assistance when providing support. 
Myth: BLM doesn't think all lives matter. 
Reality: BLM advocates for equality, emphasizing that black lives shouldn't matter less than others. Disparities in employment, poverty, health, and more underscore the need for change.

Myth: Hate crimes only relate to racist.
Hate crimes are not just incidents of racial intolerance, but also include religious discrimination, homophobic and transphobic abuse, disability hate crime and more recently, crimes against older people
Myth: Hate crimes happen too often to report each one. 
Reality: Every hate incident and crime should be reported; the police take each seriously. Hate crimes encompass various forms of discrimination and often go unreported.
Myth: There is no discrimination against people with mental health problems
Reality: Although there is a positive shift in attitudes towards mental health issues, thanks in part to the efforts of charities and various organizations that raise awareness about these issues, individuals can still encounter discrimination.
Myth: It’s really difficult to report a hate crime
Reality: The police offer assistance and sign posting to specialised support if required. The Report + Support team are here to help you through the process of disclosing. If you wish to report independently and remain anonymous you make a disclosure via Crime Stoppers  
Myth: Pronoun usage is exclusive to transgender and gender non-conforming students. 
Reality: Pronouns are a part of everyone's daily language, irrespective of gender identity.

Myth: It was a compliment, so it's not harassment.
Even if a person intends their conduct to be flattering, it may still be offensive to others.

Myth: It can't be harassment—they were only joking.
Even though a person intends their conduct to be funny, it may still be offensive to others.

Myth: Harassment is motivated by a desire for sex.
Actually, sexual harassment is often motivated by dominance, power, and/or bullying.

Myth: If I ignore harassment, it will go away.
Unfortunately, ignoring harassment usually does not make it go away. In fact, the problem may get worse.

Myth: The behaviour must be repeated to be sexual harassment.
Reality: Sexual harassment can encompass repetitive actions, or it can stem from a single, notably incident.
Myth: sexual harassment is a woman’s problem – it rarely happens to men
Reality: Men aren’t immune from sexual harassment; all genders can experience sexual harassment.
Myth: Women frequently make false claims of harassment. 
Reality: Research show that this could not be further from the truth.
Myth: If a person doesn’t complain about being harassed, then it’s not a real problem.
Reality: Harassment creates a hostile working environment when not reported. Individuals can be fearful of reporting due to the possible response. Please be reassured Student Services Advisors will not escalate your concern without your consent unless there are safeguarding concerns. 

Myth: You are more likely to be sexually assaulted by a stranger in a dark than someone you know.
Reality: Incorrect.
The majority of reported cases involve someone known to them.

Myth: Wearing revealing clothing or flirting can provoke rape. 
Reality: Perceived provocative attire does not imply consent, and there is never a justification for making unwanted sexual advances based on clothing. Consent should never be assumed.
Myth: If you consume drugs or alcohol, you should expect unwanted sexual advances. 
Reality: Substance use can render a person vulnerable, but it does not equate to consent for sex. According to the law, consent is given when an individual chooses to agree and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. This means they cannot be unconscious, asleep, intoxicated, or too young to comprehend sexual matters.
Myth: You cannot be sexually assaulted by someone you are in a relationship with or have had sex with previously. 
Reality: Sexual misconduct can occur within a relationship, including with a long-term partner. Previous sexual activity does not negate the need for consent during subsequent encounters. Consent should never be assumed. 
Myth: Some individuals falsely claim sexual assault due to regret about consensual sex. 
Reality: There is minimal evidence to support the notion that a significant number of people fabricate sexual misconduct claims. However, there is evidence that most victims do not report sexual assault due to shame or fear of disbelief.
Myth: Only someone with a penis can commit sexual assault. 
Reality: Individuals of various genders can be victims of sexual assault by individuals of the same or different genders. While the legal definition of rape often involves penile penetration, sexual assault can involve other body parts or objects. Furthermore, not all forms of sexual assault involve penetration.
Myth: Possessive behaviour is a sign of love. 
Reality: Coercive control is domestic violence, regardless of the relationship’s status. It's about power and control, not love.
Myth: My partner secretly enjoys it if I ignore their request for no sex. 
Reality: Ignoring your partner's consent is rape. Respect their choices and boundaries.

If you are experiencing any concerns in relation to the content please consider reporting via the website.

There are two ways you can tell us what happened