Are You Giving Support?

Here are some common responses that survivors have to the trauma of sexual violence:

  • Blaming themselves for the incident.

  • Confusion about whether it was sexual assault.

  • Fear for safety or that others will judge them.  

  • Appear calm and unaffected.

  • Frantic, distraught, anxious.

  • Angry or aggressive.

  • Shock or disbelief that it happened.

  • Unable to recall details or aspects of the incident or incoherent recollection.

  • Feeling frozen during the assault (unable to move or speak; mentally removed from body.)

  • May want to ignore that it happened.

What To Do if Someone Discloses to You


Many survivors of sexual violence worry that they will not be believed or that they are somehow to blame for the assault. Let the person know that you believe them and emphasize that it was not their fault. The only one to blame for the assault is the perpetrator.

Offer Support

Consider both the physical safety and emotional well-being of the person making the disclosure. Offer information on supports and services, including medical and counselling services.


Allow the person a chance to share information without interruption or judgement. Acknowledge the courage it takes to share, and refrain from asking “why” questions or for details on the assault.


Usually, when someone discloses information regarding an assault they are looking for support. Simply asking “what can I do to help” allows the individual the opportunity to share.

Explore Options

People have the right to make their own decisions on how they move forward after the assault. It is important for survivors to be in control over how and what supports are accessed. If you are U of R faculty or staff supporting an individual, contact the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response coordinator for consultation and advice around issues related to sexual violence.

What Is the Difference Between Disclosure and Report?


Indicates that a person wants to share information about their assault with another person. It does not mean that a person necessarily wants to make a formal report about the assault. Not reporting is a valid option. Individuals who have experienced sexual violence do not need to make a report in order to receive University supports.

Report or Complaint

Means that the person wants to make a formal complaint to either the police or University services. University processes are different than legal requirements. Individuals should be encouraged to contact the SVPR coordinator for support in this process.