The RUAS confidential counsellors will always welcome you

    02 February 2022

    Since the BOOS episode about The Voice of Holland, the term 'confidential counsellor' has become a regular topic of conversation in general and at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences as well. The confidential counsellors are specially trained to listen to and support you.

    Sexually transgressive behaviour is not limited to the media or television. Research shows that one in two to three women will be affected. They are mainly young people between 18 and 24 years old. Recently, Amnesty published that 18 percent of women have been raped at some time. For 11 percent this happened during their student years. It also happens to boys, but less often.

    What do we actually mean by sexually transgressive behaviour? “For example, sending inappropriate text messages or making remarks," says Marleen Braat, one of the confidential counsellors at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. "Or actually touching someone, up to rape and everything in between. It is a broad concept. Often the relationship is one of dependence; the victim and perpetrator know each other. The fact that it is possible, the fact that the opportunity is there, is the reason why it occurs. Even within an organisation such as a university of applied sciences.”

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    #Metoo has brought more openness. In recent years there has been more talk about sexually transgressive behaviour, more victims have come out into the open, and the media and politicians are paying more attention to it.

    Marleen: “Since the scandal surrounding The Voice of Holland, you can see that women who have experienced it now have the courage to also talk about it. It is very important to tell your story if you have experienced sexual transgression. You are not alone. Often victims feel guilt and shame to talk about it and want to keep the experience a secret. There is a good chance that stress is involved. As confidential counsellors, we are specially trained and appointed to listen to your story and to attend to and support you. We do not practice 'victim blaming' or condoning. You can trust a confidential counsellor.”


    Once you have contacted one of the confidential counsellors, he or she will consider with you what needs to be done. The possibilities are diverse. From addressing the perpetrator, yourself, to professional mediation or an honest and independent investigation by a committee. Sometimes a report or referral is important. “As the person reporting, you decide what action is best for you. But even if you want to remain anonymous, it is important that you share your story,” says Gertruurd Bartels, also a confidential counsellors at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

    On reading these kinds of reports, managers often want to know: what can I do now to make our workplace safer? “You can help by discussing which jokes, comments and touches are acceptable, and which are not. It is important that there is an open culture, in which it is possible to address each other. Showing exemplary behaviour is important, especially if you are the 'powerful one' in a relationship of dependence.”


    It is important that everyone at RUAS is aware that confidential counsellors are available. They are happy to introduce themselves to any study programme, team, institute, or department. On this HINT page you will find all information about the confidential counsellors at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and who you can contact per institute, service department or research centre. They are always ready to help you.