It's important to know how to respond if a student or staff member discloses a sexual assault or sexual harassment to you.
After disclosing the assault
The victim needs to:
- be believed
- feel safe
- be assured that it isn’t their fault
- be informed about support and options for formal reporting
- be allowed to take control and make decisions that are in their best interest at the time ( these choices and decisions may and can change)
Things you can do to help
It's important that you:
- listen, don’t judge
- believe, be there and give comfort
- listen to what the person has to say
- try not to interrupt or ask lots of questions
- let them tell you at their own pace. Don’t worry if they stop talking for a while. Silences are OK – you don’t have to rush to fill them with words.
- thank them for trusting you to confide in when they've finished speaking
Allow them to make decisions about what to do next.
However well-intentioned you may be, don’t force the person to make a decision.
Some things you can say
- I’m sorry that this happened to you. What do you need right now?
- Is there someone I can call for you?
- What do you want to happen?
Unhelpful things to say
- Were you drunk/stoned?
- What were you doing there?
- What were you wearing?
- You know what s/he’s like, you shouldn’t have gone out with her/him.
- Why didn’t you fight back?
- Why didn’t you tell someone earlier?
Acknowledge your feelings and get support for yourself.