Guidance on how to respond
Students and PGRs may a disclosure to any member of staff that they trust. This page will support you to respond with confidence. It gives guidance on how to provide a safe space for the student and the opportunity for them to make an informed choice about what action to choose to take. We don’t expect you to provide expert advice or long-term support.
Remember – BLISS
If someone shares an experience of harassment, sexual violence, abuse, bullying, hate crime or other form of discrimination with you, remember to respond with BLISS.
Starting by believing is one of the most important things you can do for a victim/survivor. A simple phrase like “I believe you and I’m here for you” can be lifechanging.
Show that you’re really listening by practicing active listening techniques like facing them and nodding while they speak. While it may be difficult or upsetting to hear what they disclose, showing that you’re listening demonstrates you’re here for them.
Experiences of abuse, violence, harassment, discrimination and bullying can make a person feel powerless or out of control. You may naturally feel an urge to try to fix things and propose solutions, but it’s important to not make any decisions on behalf of the victim/survivor unless they ask you for practical support. There’s no right or wrong way for a victim/survivor to feel, so don’t judge their decisions. An easy way to empower them to stay in control is to ask how you can support them, whether they want advice, practical help, or for you to just listen.
Supporting a victim/survivor can be overwhelming and for some people, triggering. It can have a huge emotional impact and may impact your work or studies. It’s important to take care of yourself – while it’s natural to want to be there for a loved one, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to offer support either. Explore the range of support services available to you, and if you feel your studies are being impacted, contact your School.
Supporting a victim/survivor can be overwhelming. If the victim/survivor are open to getting support, refer them to the Harassment and Misconduct team. The team of specialist advisors are the University’s recommended first point of contact for any student who is impacted by sexual violence, abuse, harassment, hate crime, bullying or discrimination.
Responding to disclosures of recent sexual assault
It’s important to respond appropriately and in a time-sensitive manner if the student or PGR has recently experienced a sexual assault. This is important to connect them with a crisis worker and, if they wish, can arrange for a forensic medical examination. preser If someone has been sexually assaulted within the past 7 days they can contact the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Provided by the NHS, the local SARC offers medical, practical and emotional support to anyone who has been sexually assaulted, raped or abused. They can take physical evidence which, if done within 7 days of an assault, can be held on file while they decide whether they want to make a complaint to the Police
With their consent, you can connect students and PGRs to the Harassment and Misconduct team for confidential support. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org on their behalf, and the team will respond as quickly as possible.
Who can I talk to for further advice?
The Harassment and Misconduct Team can offer confidential advice and consultation to staff who are supporting students and PGRs following a disclosure. We can talk about the circumstances without needing to share names or identifying information. Having a safe space to talk about next steps means we can ensure best practice for our community. Please email the team on email@example.com or the Harassment and Misconduct Manager, Charlotte Webster, on firstname.lastname@example.org.