Responding to Disclosures
First, the Don'ts...
- Don't decide what's best for them, although you can recommend options. More details about what this means for mandatory reporters is below.
- Don't pass judgement or cast doubt on their story. Chances are they just need someone to listen.
- Don't minimize what happened. If something seems small to you it doesn't mean that the person telling you about it feels the same way.
What You Can Say
- "It's not your fault."
- "You are not alone."
- "I'm sorry this happened."
The options below are adapted from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Avoid questioning their behavior or actions unless you are seeing destructive behavior. Everyone deals with difficult events in their own way.
Reaching out to see how someone is doing can go along way. A friendly text message, inviting them out to coffee, or cooking dinner together are all ways that you can show them you care and are thinking about them.
Knowing your resources in advance helps when someone comes to you to disclose their experience. We recommend becoming familiar with the Support & Resources materials on our site and also looking around the broader community.
As a Mandatory Reporter
Below are some suggested responses based on possible scenarios:
"It's brave of you to talk about this, and I respect you reaching out for help. You should know before we talk more that I must report any sexual violence to the Office of Gender Equity & Inclusion. However, I can also point you towards some confidential resources if you'd like."
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I am a mandatory reporter and I want to let you know that there are a number of situations where I am required to report what you tell me to the Office of Gender Equity & Inclusion. I am happy to talk to you, but if you'd like to first explore options with a confidential resource here are a few options."
"I'm glad you want to talk to me about this and that you feel comfortable speaking with me about something that might be hard to discuss. I want to make sure that you understand my role here. I will do everything I can to protect your privacy, but depending on what you tell me I may need to inform another administrator at the university."