Give support

At UVic, everyone needs to be prepared to be part of the conversation about how to prevent and respond to sexualized violence. How you respond to a disclosure can have a significant impact on what a survivor does next. Responding in a non-judgemental way, prioritizing the safety of those impacted by sexualized violence, and providing options and choices on what to do next will help to avoid re-traumatizing or re-victimizing someone who has disclosed to you. Respecting and honouring survivor's choices are ways we can be survivor-centred and trauma-informed.

How to receive a disclosure

While it can be hard to know what to say and what to do when someone discloses, just remember that it takes COURAGE to disclose and therefore we owe it to survivors to respond appropriately.

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C — Commence by believing people

It is one of the most powerful things you can do to support a survivor. Tell people explicitly that you believe their experience.

O — Offer to get them support

Where possible connect them in with the Sexualized Violence Resource Office for that support. In some cases, this might not be the best option for the survivor. You can offer to reach out to us anonymously to find out options available for the person. It is important to follow the lead of the survivor in determining best next steps.

U — Understand the importance of confidentiality

A disclosure if a survivor’s story to share. While at times you might have an obligation to report if there is a threat to health and safety, its important to take confidentiality seriously. (Policy GV0245 s.25)

R — Respect a survivor's decisions

The best way to empower someone after they’ve experienced sexualized violence is to give them options, respect their decisions, and their personal boundaries (some of which might be different following an incident of sexualized violence).

A — Acknowledge there is no right way to respond to sexualized violence

There are many factors at play in how a person responds to sexualized violence that includes physical, biological, environmental and sociological factors.

G — Give validation

Make it clear that sexualized violence is never a survivors fault. People have been shamed and blamed for what has happened to them which has led many to never report, or seek out the support options they rightfully deserve.

E — Express empathy

This includes saying to someone, “I’m sorry this happened to you” or “what happened to you is not okay”.

Receiving a disclosure can be difficult

It is okay not to know what to say when someone discloses to you. If you need additional information on how to receive a disclosure, consider taking one of the workshops available on campus.

Following a disclosure, you might also need support. It can be hard hearing about someone else’s painful or difficult experience. You might feel awkward or helpless and it may trigger a difficult experience from your own life. Feel free to reach out to the Sexualized Violence Resource Office or any of the other on-campus or off-campus supports if you feel impacted.

Sexualized Violence Resource Office

Location: Sedgewick Building, Room C133, Equity and Human Rights

Call or email to book an in-person or virtual meeting. You are welcome to bring a support person to any meeting. In the case of faculty or staff, this may include a colleague or union steward.