Supporting a survivor of sexual violence/misconduct

What to do if someone discloses sexual assault or sexual misconduct to you:

  • Remain calm, try not to panic. Try not to look upset or shocked and keep an open mind to what you are about to hear.
  • Listen to the person and acknowledge that they are being brave by sharing what has happened to them.
  • Do not probe for excessive details, it is up to the survivor if they want to share this with you.
  • Do not be judgemental or cast doubt on the survivor, the proportion of false allegations is less than 3%. A sexual assault is never the fault of the person who is abused.
  • Refer the survivor to the right place, such as our support directory
  • Offer practical support such as going to appointments with them.
  • Do not force the person to report if they do not want to. Respect their decision.
  • Do not try to control the situation, it is important for the survivor to be in control over what happens next.
  • If you are a member of staff, keep a record of what was disclosed. Make a note of the facts, you do not need to include your opinion or other subjective statements. Also, make a note of the guidance that you have given.
  • Keep notes in a secure and confidential space because you may need to find them or share them in future, if for example, the survivor decides to make a formal report.
  • Please be aware that notes could be used if the case goes to court. You could be called as a witness and your notes could be classed as evidence. Make sure your notes are clear and accurate.