Handling sexual violence disclosures
What is sexual violence?
Any unwanted sexualised act or activity, whether perpetrated by someone known or unknown.
Violence does not have to mean punches and kicks, it refers to a lack of consent and acts which are perpetrated beyond a person’s control or choice.
Anyone can be the victim of sexual violence.
Report vs disclosure
It is important to be clear about the difference between a disclosure and a report.
A disclosure is where someone tells you about their experience, but does not necessarily want action to be taken. A disclosing student should be given time to make an informed choice about whether or not to make a formal report to the police or to the University.
A report is a way of officially lodging a complaint, to be followed up with potential action against the alleged perpetrator. A report can be made to the police by calling 101, or to the University under Regulation 7 using our online reporting form if the alleged perpetrator is a member of the University.
What should I do?
- Stay calm, be empathetic and show your concern.
- Listen without judging or directing.
- Allow the individual to stay in control of the conversation and of their decisions.
- Keep a confidential record of the conversation.
- Contact the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) if you are unsure about how to respond to a disclosure or if you require any advice or support.
- Look after yourself; talk to a Mental Health First Aid Contact or the Employee Assistance Programme if you feel in need of support.
What should I say?
- Acknowledge their courage in disclosing the incident.
- Assure them of confidentiality, and make them aware of the boundaries (e.g. the need to share information with appropriate colleagues if there is a serious concern for their safety or the safety of others).
- Ask them what they would like to happen next; whether they are wanting to make a report, or simply wanting to access support.
- Tell them about the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) and ask whether they would like you to make a referral.
- Advise them to explore the different support options available to them as explained on the student-facing sexual violence web page.
- Sensitively establish whether an incident has taken place in the last 7 days, to ensure a student does not miss the chance to have forensic evidence captured if they wish.
You may find it useful to download the guidance for staff A5 poster Sexual violence disclosure (PDF , 32kb)
What are the options available to a disclosing student?
Report to the Police
- The police have specially trained officers who are very experienced in supporting survivors of sexual violence.
- To make a report to the police, you can call 101, or 999 in an emergency.
Retain forensic evidence
- Bridge House is York’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). If something happened in the last 7 days, Bridge House can collect and store medical evidence, even if someone is not sure they want to involve the police at the moment. They can also advise on specialist support options.
- 0330 223 0362 (9am-5pm). Out of hours: 0330 223 0099.
Report to the University
- If the alleged perpetrator is a member of the University, an investigation can take place under Regulation 7. A student can make a formal report by using our online reporting form.
External Specialist Support
- IDAS provide an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) service to support people through the Criminal Justice System
- Survive offer support to survivors through counselling, one to one meetings, groups, or their helpline
- YorSexual Health Centre can offer emergency appointments to those who have suffered sexual violence, and offers free counselling.
Support from the University
- Our Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) is on campus to provide practical and emotional support to anybody who has been impacted by sexual violence.
- Open Door Team provide support for those experiencing psychological or mental health difficulties.
- College teams are on hand to provide emotional support as needed.
- YUSU or GSA can speak to a student confidentiality and independently from the University about their options and rights as a student.
IMMEDIATE RISK? Call Security on 3333 or the police on 999