I believe someone I know has experienced sexual misconduct:
You may be the most trusted person in an individual’s life and they may confide in you after experiencing sexual misconduct. Regardless of whether the experience was recent or historical, it is important that you provide a compassionate and supportive response to their disclosure. The following information can assist you in supporting someone through talking about their experience and accessing supports.
The individual may not say the words out loud. They may write about it or change their behaviour. Missed attendance and assignments, social withdrawal and high risk activities may indicate trauma. Watch for warning signs.
Attend to safety
Encourage the individual to seek medical care and confirm they have somewhere safe to stay.
Listen and show your support
- Believe them. Remind them it's not their fault. Belief is a powerful tool and is often the first step in the positive healing of a sexual assault survivor. Survivors who get a positive response when they tell someone are more likely to get help and report.
- Be supportive and non-judgmental.
- Listen. Don’t investigate or interrogate.
- Allow the individual to share as much or as little as they feel comfortable without interrupting.
- Demonstrate compassion.
- Acknowledge the courage it has taken for them to talk about it with you.
- Say: “I am so sorry.” “What happened wasn’t your fault.” “How can I support you?”
- Don’t say: “Why did you. . .” “Tell me what happened.”
- Avoid asking questions about what happened, especially those that begin with “why…”, as this disempowers and may re-traumatize the individual
- Don’t blame the victim or cast doubt about the accused.
- Each person has the right to make their own decisions as to what to do next and to have those choices respected. Asking a person what they would like to do can help them re-establish control after an experience where they had none.
- Respect confidentiality. Ensure they understand how and when you will share information they have provided to you.
Encourage the individual to access support and respect their choices.
- Health and Shepell Counselling Services is the best first-point of contact in person (CE1380), by phone (403-320-3289) or confidential email SVsupport@lethbridgecollege.ca.
- If the Health & Shepell Counselling Services is closed or the individual doesn't wish to attend, lethbridgecollege.ca/sexualmisconduct outlines options and resources.
- A third option, available 24/7, would be to contact Campus Security 403-320-3206, to ask for the College Leadership Council leader on call.
If the individual wants to take no action at the time of disclosure, ask permission to submit a disclosure form to the college. By sharing the most basic information, this notifies the college an incident has occurred and helps us identify patterns and collect data.
During business hours
(Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
Health and Counselling Services
Provides compassionate support by informing the individual of their options for medical care, reporting processes – including notification of the lead first responder – and connection to appropriate internal and external resources, such as a sexual assault advocate and counselling.
(weekdays 4 p.m. – 8 a.m., weekends and holidays)
Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Security will ensure immediate safety. After hours, Security will contact the on-call College Leadership Council member who will provide the individual with information on processes and available support.
(available at any time)
YWCA Sexual Assault Advocate (Amethyst Project)
Provides support to victims of sexual assault and will advocate throughout the process of receiving medical care, reporting and connecting them to appropriate resources. The advocate will transport the individual to the hospital if requested.
24-hour crisis line: 403-320-1881