Tips for Responding to Disclosures

  • Listen. Don’t Judge. Get rid of any distractions.
  • Assure them that it is not their fault.
  • Do not blame the person by asking questions such as “why were you there?” or “were you drinking alcohol?”
  • Let them know that they are not alone.
  • Be sure they know right away whether you are a mandatory reporter of the incident
  • Common concerns, reactions, and feelings that may occur to both the victim or friends may include:
    • Shock and numbness
    • Disruption of daily life
    • Loss of control
    • Fear
    • Guilt and self-blame
    • Anger
    • Isolation
    • Sexual intimacy concerns
    • Vulnerability and mistrust
    • Embarrassment
    • Concern for perpetrator
    • Concern for how people will react
  • These reactions are normal and vary from person to person as everybody copes in different ways.
  • Determine if they need medical attention. If they do, direct them to the needed resources or offer to go with them. 
  • Ask if they feel safe, and connect them to safety resources
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Avoid making predictions or promises about things you don’t know and don’t control.
  • Encourage them to seek help and counseling as soon as possible.
  • If they are interested in reporting the incident to the police and/or OCEM, offer to go with them or help connect them with an advocate who can do so. 
  • Unless you are a mandatory reporter, keep the information private and don’t share with others.