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Give Support

If a survivor makes a disclosure to you, here's some things to keep in mind: 

Believe the person: This is incredibly important. The fear of not being believed and or being blamed are huge reasons why people don’t come forward. Avoid “why” questions and words like “should” and “must” – you’re there to support them, not to investigate the situation. 

Listen: It’s important to listen with empathy and without judgment.  Seek to understand, and try not to interrupt their speaking. 

Support: Ask the person what they need. Provide a private, safe place for the survivor and offer emotional support. Ask if they would like to call someone (parent, friend, etc.). Avoid giving advice. 

Refer: Provide information. Help connect the person with resources and additional supports which might be helpful to them.  This could include medical assistance, counselling, academic accommodation, etc. A full list of resources can be found here.

It is up to them to decide what they need, but they may need information about their options and this is something you can do. 

If you’re interested in further training on this topic, stay updated with the Human Rights and Diversity Office on workshops for Responding to Disclosures.