If someone you know has experienced interpersonal violence, it is important to know that it is never the fault of the survivor. 

If a student shares that they or their friend have experienced sexual violence, please consider the following when responding:

  • Listen: 
    • Do not ask questions about the details of the experience. Just listen without interruptions or assumptions.
  • Believe: 
    • Believe their story. 
    • Let them know it was not their fault, and thank them for telling you. 
    • Avoid asking "why" questions, as this can sound accusatory or blaming.
    • Survivors may not remember what happened to them, or may not identify it as rape, sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking. Mirror the vocabulary they use.
  • Accept: 
    • Allow the student to make their own decisions about what they want to do. Follow their lead.
    • Do not make the decisions for them.
  • Validate:
    • Validate their experience. 
    • Communicate to them that it is not their fault under any circumstance, including what they wore or what they did.
  • Support: 
    • Find out what they need from you. 
    • Talk with them about confidential sources of support and information, such as CAPE.
    • Ask how you can best support them.
    • Make sure to take care of yourself, too.