If someone discloses misconduct to you....

All College staff and faculty who receive a report of sexual misconduct or harassment are required to elevate the report to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator (except for those designated as a confidential resource). 

We know that conversations surrounding sexual misconduct and harassment are sensitive in nature.  Here is some advice and guidance on what to do and say:

  • Listen without interrupting
  • Remain calm and concerned and maintain eye contact
  • Do not worry about having to say just the right thing – just being there can help!
  • Respect the language the student uses to identify what has happened
  • Remember that this is a time to allow the student to vent whatever emotions, thoughts or beliefs they have connected to their experience
  • Allow for tears and expression of feelings
  • Allow silence, as silence means that the student is thinking and/or processing (This may also be an opportunity for you to think about how you can help and be there for the student)
  • Believe and support the student (Reflect what you are hearing)
    • “That must have been tough/frightening/scary for you.”
  • Help the student identify one to two trusted support people
    • “Even if you don’t know what you want to do right now, it can be helpful to talk to someone about your options.”
  • Ask what you can do to be supportive
    • “Would you like for me to go with you to talk with someone?”
  • Ask if they want to get medical attention – no matter how long ago the assault occurred
  • Have an appropriate behavioral response—hugging or touching may be inappropriate.
    • You can always ask “may I give you a hug?”
    • If it feels awkward to do, then it will be awkward.
  • Ask yourself, “Am I doing everything in my power to create an intentionally safe environment for this student with my verbal and non-verbal language?”

Here is some advice and guidance on what not to say or do:

  • Asking “why” questions or questions that may imply blame and put the student on the defensive
    • “What were you doing there?”
  • Asking questions to satisfy your own curiosity never assist the process
  • Blaming or judging the student’s actions
    • “You shouldn’t have had so much to drink.”
  • Dismissing or minimizing the student’s feelings experience
    • “It could have been worse.”
  • Trying to “fix” the problem or telling the student what to do
    • “You need to talk to a counselor”
  • Saying, “It will be OK.” This is a common statement meant with good intentions or to fill space when you don’t know what else to say, but it is not appropriate because you don’t know if it will be OK. The best thing to do is be there with them in the present moment where it is safe.

The following talking points guide was created for faculty and staff members to provide guidance around responding to disclosures.