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Stop Sexual Assault

How You Can Help

Having a Conversation

Students may disclose traumatic events — including sexual assault — to employees for a variety of reasons. If a student shares this troubling news with you, it’s important that you know how to have an appropriate, compassionate conversation with them. Your response may have an enormous impact on the student’s decision to seek further help and on their recovery.





  • Don’t make any statements or ask questions that blame the student for the assault (e.g., questioning the student’s behavior, style of dress, use of alcohol, etc.).
  • Don’t lecture the student.
  • Do not tell the student you don’t believe them.


What you can say


If you believe a student may be about to disclose a sexual assault

During a conversation, you may become aware that a student is going to disclose a sexual assault. To allow that student the option of maintaining anonymity, tell the student about confidential resources before they continue. You might say:

“It sounds like whatever happened is really affecting you. While I want to listen and support you, I also want you to understand that there are certain things students tell me that I have to report to the university. These include reports of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. I’m very sorry if any of these things have happened to you, and I want to be here for you. But, if you want to remain anonymous, you might want to talk instead to a confidential resource in our counseling center, sexual assault prevention office or health center.”  

If a student has disclosed a sexual assault

When a student tells you they have been sexually assaulted, you should listen without passing judgment, tell the student you’re required to report the assault and refer them to resources that can help. Some phrases to use are:

  • “I believe you. You are not alone.”
  • “I know that was really difficult for you to share. Thank you for sharing with me.”
  • “I want to support you, but I want you to understand that as an employee, I have a responsibility to report incidents like that to the university so that they can help protect you and our campus community.”
  • “I want you to get the help you need. There are offices on campus that can help; would you like their information?”

If the student is interested in seeking help from campus resources, offer to let the them use your office phone to call, or walk with them to the office of their choice. If the student doesn’t want to visit one of those offices, offer them a flier, contact card or simply the office phone number. Either way, you are obligated to report the assault.

Stop Sexual Assault