Responding to Disclosures

Download your copy of our Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence Guide.

If you work directly with International students, our Guide to Supporting International Students Impacted by Sexual Violence may also be helpful. 

How to Help


  • Be patient, let them take their time to tell you what happened.
  • Mirror their language by using terms they use. 
  • Don't press for unnecessary information, for example don't ask if they were drinking or what they were wearing.


  • Many Survivors blame themselves or fear they will not be believed.
  • Validate their feelings and let them know that it is not their fault, for example: 
    • "It's not your fault."
    • "Thank you for sharing this with me."
    • "I believe you."


  • Ask them what they need.
  • Connect them with the support resources of their choice
  • You may encourage them to seek support but don't insist.
  • Empower the Survivor to choose what happens next, on their own terms.


  • If you are able, continue to check in with them to see how they are doing.


  • Being a support person is an important role that may bring up a variety of emotions. Your feelings are valid. If you have survived sexual violence yourself, the disclosure may bring back memories. It is important to acknowledge and tend to your own needs.
  • It is also important to be realistic about your capacity. If you do not think you are able to support the survivor at this time, you can help them find others who are.
  • Seek relevant support for yourself.