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Give support

You don't need to be an expert in order to support someone who has experienced sexual violence, and it's okay to not have all the answers. Check out the Disclosure Flowchart to get a brief overview of what to do when you receive a disclosure.



If you have any questions on how to support an individual who has experienced sexual or domestic violence and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect, contact a Support Worker.

Ideas on how to give a supportive response

  • Listen
    • Be an active listener when someone discloses to you, and do not ask about additional details. Respect what they are willing to share with you.

  • Thank them for sharing with you
    • Thank the individual for being comfortable sharing and disclosing their experience to you. 

  • Believe
    • Tell the individual that it is not their fault and that you believe them.

  • Empathize
    • Practice empathy. Understand that this person is sharing a traumatic experience with you, and validate what they are going through.

  • Ask if there are ways you can support them

Things to avoid doing

  • Victim blaming 
    • Survivors should never be held responsible for acts of sexual violence, under any circumstance. This includes asking things like "What were you wearing?", or "How much did you have to drink?".
  • Criticizing the survivor's actions
    • Survivors are in the best position to define their own needs. It is invalidating to question or criticize a survivor's actions before, during, and after experiencing sexual and/or domestic violence.
  • Sympathizing with the offender 
    • Avoid saying things that could justify the perpetrator's actions as this will dehumanize and invalidate a survivor.

We recognize that receiving a disclosure can affect you as well. We have services available to provide support to you emotionally as you act as an effective support for someone else.

Specific for students

Good2Talkoffers free, confidential helpline providing professional counseling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to post-secondary students in Ontario.

T: 1.866.925.5454 (24/7 helpline)

Support Worker: their role is to assist anyone who has been affected by sexual violence, whether they personally experienced the violence or not. This includes those who are acting in a support role to a survivor.

T: 905.721.3392

Specific for staff and faculty

Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP): The EFAP provides full-time continuing faculty/staff, sessional lecturers, post-doctoral fellows and their dependants quick access to confidential counseling and support services.  To learn more, view EFAP at Ontario Tech.

T: 1.844.880.9142

All disclosures made to someone at Ontario Tech should be kept confidential. 

Students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to always ask an individual who has experienced sexual and/or violence how they can best be supported, and connect them to resources with their consent (i.e. connecting a survivor to a Support Worker).

In rare cases, action may need to be taken without the individual's consent. A few examples of instances where this can occur are where:

  • There is an immediate threat of physical harm to the survivor or someone else in the university community, contact the Office of Campus Safety.
  • The survivor has been subjected to sexual and/or domestic violence by someone employed by the university (e.g. faculty, staff, etc.).
  • Reporting is required by law (e.g. the suspected abuse of someone under 16 years of age, or to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act).

If you have questions about confidentiality when you are supporting someone, you are encouraged to connect with a Support Worker who can provide more information.


If you have received a disclosure of sexual violence, send an email to, indicating the time and nature of the disclosure, taking care not to breach the confidentiality of those involved or include details that may otherwise reveal their identity. After sending the email, you will receive an automatic reply reminding you of the sexual violence resources on-campus and in the Durham community. Please note, this email is not monitored 24/7 and it is not meant to be an online tool for one-on-one support while receiving a disclosure. If you need assistance while receiving a disclosure, please connect with a Support Worker.

Through this reporting information, the university can assess the effectiveness of its approach to sexual and domestic violence prevention and develop programming to address new issues that may emerge.