Receiving a disclosure of sexual violence can be hard. We are here to help.
Responding to a Disclosure
If someone discloses to you that they have experienced sexual violence, you don't need to be an expert to offer support. Just remember to be B.R.A.V.E.
Begin by Listening
Sexual violence is a violation of a person's consent and safety. Don't pry or press for details, instead, give survivors control over their story by letting them decide how and what they want to share with you.
Disclosing an act of sexual violence takes courage. Respect the survivor by keeping their disclosure confidential. If you do need to share the information, ensure they understand how and when you will do so. Not explaining the limits of confidentiality sets survivors up to have their story shared before they are ready.
Ask How to Support
Reporting to the police is not every survivor's idea of justice. Support can range from helping someone report to just being there to listen. Let go of assumptions and ask what support looks like to them.
Validate and Empathize
Remind them it is not their fault and that you believe them. Survivors are not to blame regardless of what they were wearing, where they were, what they drank or who they were with - the only person at fault is the perpetrator. Empathize with the impact this has on the survivor and remember there is no right way to feel or react.
Common Responses to Sexual Violence
Each of these reactions are normal ways to respond to traumatic events like sexual violence. There is no right or wrong way to act or feel. That's why it's important to show support to all disclosures of sexual violence, no matter what they look like.
Disrupted sleep patterns
Inability to concentrate or focus
Appear flat or calm
Fearful of leaving a safe space
Start with Believing
One line every survivor of sexual violence needs to hear is "I believe you." Having a positive response like "it's not your fault and when you're ready, I'm here to support you" is the most important thing a survivor can hear.