If someone tells you they have experienced sex- or gender-based violence and harassment, how you respond matters.
A student or employee may reach out to you because they want to:
- Share what is happening and feel less alone in their experience
- Stop the violent or harassing behavior
- Learn more about available resources and reporting options
- Request academic or workplace adjustments/supportive measures
- Seek support for injuries due to an assault
When someone shares that they have experienced violence or harassment, it’s important to respond with care and provide access to information about support resources and their rights.
How to respond with care:
Everyone responds to experiencing violence and harassment differently. Validate that any response is normal and assure them they’re doing the right thing by coming to you. Try responding with, “Thank you for sharing. I know it can be hard to talk about this.”
You may have strong ideas about what this person needs to do. You might be tempted to start gathering more details about the situation or determine exactly what happened. Focus any questions on how they are doing and their current needs. Try responding with, “I’m here to listen. What do you need right now? How can I help?”
The person sharing with you may feel isolated and unsure about what to do next.
- Try responding with, “You do not have to go through this alone; resources are available to support you.”
- If you are a student or an employee providing support, try asking, “Is it okay if I call SafeCampus to learn more about how I can support you? Do you prefer I share your name or would you rather remain anonymous?”
- If you are an Official Required to Report, remind the individual you are required to call SafeCampus and share names and details about the situation to ensure that there is an appropriate response.
It is important that we allow individuals experiencing violence and harassment to make their own decisions about what actions they want to take and how much information they want to share.
Review the Know Your Rights and Resources guide on the Survivor Resources page. The Office of the Title IX Coordinator developed the guide to assist members of the UW community who have experienced unwelcome conduct, violence or harassment. Among other things, the guide includes:
- “Where to start”—a support and reporting options map
- Resources at UW and in the community
- An overview of the investigation and adjudication process if someone chooses to submit a formal complaint
Individuals are often best able to support others when they take care of themselves and are aware of their own reactions. You may also wish to reach out to your own support.
- Students: You may contact SafeCampus or your campus-specific counseling center.
- Employees: You may contact SafeCampus or UW CareLink.
Credit: Videos were developed by Jonathan Beck and Kiana Swearingen in the Office of the Title IX Coordinator. The voices actors were Akhila Narayanan, Vincent Milay, and Jeffrey L. Cheatham II.