What do I do if someone tells me they experienced sexual misconduct?

It can be hard to find the words and know how to respond to someone after they disclose to you. While it can be difficult, this also means the person trusts you and is looking for your support. When a survivor first discloses to someone, they are often looking for a listening ear and validation that what they experienced was not okay. Listening and being present is the best first step to supporting someone. 

Is there anything I shouldn’t do?

It can be tempting to give advice in a situation like this, since it often makes us, as listeners, feel more helpful. However, a large part of sexual misconduct is that control is taken away from the person who experiences the violence. That means part of the healing and helping process is letting that person take control back. You can offer the person options and choices, but don’t make them feel like there are right or wrong answers. Also, it's very important to remember that experiencing sexual misconduct is never the fault of the reporting party. 

IMPORTANT: The time when you should do something is if you have concerns about the person self-harming or committing suicide based on what they’ve told you. Increased risk for self-harm and suicide can be effects of experiencing sexual violence, so it’s important to reach out and tell someone if the person you’re supporting expresses these ideas. Filing a SHARE report, contacting the Counseling Center, or Campus Safety are your best resources – depending on the situation, one may be more appropriate. 

How do I tell someone I have a responsibility to report?

This can be challenging to address. One option is if you sense that someone is about to tell you something you are required to report, you can stop them, tell them your responsibilities, and then offer to keep talking or connect them to a confidential resource. Some people may come to you specifically as a third-party to help them make a report, and others may choose to go to a confidential resource instead.

If the person discloses before you have an opportunity to tell them your responsibility to report, first respond to their disclosure with words of support. Then you can explain your requirement to report and what are the next steps.

What happens after I make a report to the Title IX coordinator?

Next steps are always somewhat specific to the situation, but generally the Title IX Coordinator will reach out to the reporting party via email with an offer to meet and available resources. The reporting party does not have to respond to that email. The Title IX Coordinator may contact you for more information, or your involvement may end with the initial report.