Confirm the person’s safety. Ask them, “Are you safe right now?” If they say no, help them create a plan to get to a safe place. Call 911 if necessary.
Provide nonjudgmental support. Your role is not to determine if something occurred. You can listen and validate the experience being shared with you.
Identify resources that may be helpful.
Help the person decide whether they want to report to law enforcement. Identify the preferred method where the Title IX Coordinator is notified if you are a responsible employee. Help the person decide if they want to report to the University if you are not a responsible employee.
Provide contact information for requested services.
Let the person know that they may report to law enforcement or the University. Ensure that the University may be able to help by providing interim measures, even if the person does not wish to engage in a formal investigation.
Report, as required
All ESU employees, including student employees, are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct unless they are confidential resources.
If you are a responsible employee, explain your responsibility to the person who has disclosed information to you. Let them know what next steps are.
Do’s and Don’ts
While no individual is expected to act as a counselor to someone in crisis, when you are with someone who has reported an experience of sexual misconduct, you should be aware that the supportiveness of your response can be critical in the healing process. Though there is no one “right” way to respond, the following may serve as a guide for identifying more or less helpful responses:
Give your complete attention to the individual in crisis.
Validate the individual’s feelings. For example:
“I believe you.”
“This was not your fault.”
“You have options.”
“Thank you for trusting me with this information.”
Offer the individual options:
To be comfortable physically.
To share more or be silent.
To call referrals or have you call.
Ask what the individual needs. Ask whether they are safe.
Remind the individual that they are not alone, and that other people of all genders have experienced sexual misconduct.
Provide information on resources available to them.
Suggest that the individual preserve any evidence they have.
Inform the individual that they may want to have a physical examination by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, who is specially trained to collect forensic evidence of sexual assault.
Follow up with the individual.
Take care of yourself and get support if you need it.
Tell the individual that you know what they are going through.
Label the experience for the individual or make any legal conclusions.
Minimize the individual’s experience.
Tell the individual what they should do or make decisions for them.
Ask the individual questions that suggest they are to blame (i.e. Why did you wear that? What were you thinking?)
Question whether the individual is telling the truth or show doubt about their statements.
Tell the individual they need proof or evidence.
Touch the individual unless they say it is ok.
Talk about your own issues or history.
Guarantee complete confidentiality, particularly if you are a responsible employee with a reporting obligation.