Responding to a Disclosure

 

IF YOU RECEIVE A DISCLOSURE OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE:

If you receive a disclosure concerning sexual violence, it is important to inform the person making the disclosure of your commitment to keep confidential all information that is provided. It is also important to inform the person disclosing that there are limits to confidentiality (as outlined in the Confidentiality section of the Sexual Violence Policy)

  1.  Assess Immediate Safety
  2.  Inform Survivor of Limitations to Confidentiality
  3. Listen Without Judgment
  4. Refer the Individual to the Sexual Violence Response Office

If at any point, you are unsure on how to proceed, contact the Sexual Violence Response Office (W128 Bennett Centre for Student Services, 416-736-5211, svro@yorku.ca).

1. Assess Immediate Safety

If possible, ensure that the disclosure takes place somewhere the survivor feels comfortable and where their privacy is heeded. Ask the survivor if their immediate safety is at risk.

  • If the immediate safety of the survivor or any other member of the community is at risk, contact Security Services at 416-736-5333 or Ext. 33333 and/or 911.
  • If immediate safety is not at risk, ask the individual if they are somewhere they feel comfortable.

Please Note: Security Services will only contact Police Services with the consent of the survivor unless it is assessed that there is an imminent risk to the safety of an individual or the broader community.

2. Inform the Survivor of Limitations to Confidentiality

It is your responsibility to inform the person making the disclosure of any limits to confidentiality before they disclose identifying information. If you are unsure of any limitations to confidentiality, offer to refer the individual to the Sexual Violence Response Office (W128 Bennett Centre for Student Services, 416-736-5211, svro@yorku.ca).

3. Listen Without Judgment

A supportive and validating initial response to disclosures of sexual violence often makes a significant difference for survivors who may be apprehensive about sharing deeply personal or difficult information. Here are some ways to communicate support and concern:

  • Let the survivor maintain as much control over the pace of the disclosure as possible. Allow them to finish without interrupting and offer breaks when needed.
  • Listen carefully to what the survivor says and acknowledge the courage it took for them to come forward and share their experience.
  • Do not make dismissive or victim blaming comments. Questioning the survivor's behaviour or experience may result in the survivor feeling judged, disbelieved, blamed or a range of other negative emotions.
  • Refrain from asking the survivor specific details about the incident. Intrusive questioning about the incident may cause the survivor to feel that they are being interrogated and that you are not listening to what they are sharing with you.
  • Avoid initiating physical contact with the survivor without their consent. Some survivors may feel uncomfortable with physical contact following sexual violence.
  • Create time and space for the individual to determine what decisions best suit their particular circumstances. Do not pressure them to make a decision or impose any decision on them.

4. Refer the Individual to the Sexual Violence Response Office

An important part of supporting a person who has experienced sexual violence is to provide them with information about their options and the resources that are available to them.  Navigating university and community resources after experiencing sexual violence can be difficult. Your role is to assist the survivor in connecting with the appropriate office.

Recommend that the survivor contact the Sexual Violence Response Office (W128Bennett Centre for Student Services, 416-736-5211, svro@yorku.ca). If the survivor would like to call the Sexual Violence Response Office or a community agency, offer to sit with them as they place the call.  If appropriate and feasible, offer to accompany the survivor to the Sexual Violence Response Office or community resources of their choice.

Respect the survivor's choice of whether to report the incident(s) to Security Services or to Police Services. Do not report the incident(s) yourself. Do not pressure the survivor to seek further assistance if they decline to do so.