Help Someone Else
If someone you know within the Ohio State community has experienced sexual misconduct, we can help you help them. Sometimes the most valuable advice comes from someone the individual already trusts. Whether you're a friend, roommate, colleage, parent, or concerned member of our faculty or staff, we can point you to resources that you can share, as well as provide support for you through the process.
- Confirm the person's safety. Ask the survivor, "Are you safe right now?" If they say no, help them get to a safe place. Call 911 if necessary. The Ohio State University Police Department can assist anyone on campus without the need to initiate a criminal investigation.
- Provide nonjudgmental support. Your role is not to determine whether or not something occurred. Your primary responsibility is to remain supportive of the survivor, while referring the person to others who are trained in providing assistance and/or intervening.
- Help the person get medical care if needed.
- Help the person consider whether to make a report with the police or with the University.
- Direct the person to on-campus or off-campus confidential counseling and advocacy resources.
- Let the person know who at Ohio State they can contact to request protective measures and accommodations such as no-contact directives, housing relocation, adjustment of schedules, time off, etc.
3. Report, as required
All Ohio State employees, including student employees, are required to report incidents of sexual assault immediately, including all known details of the incident (name, date, time, location). Other employees (faculty, chairs/directors, supervisors, HR personnel) are required to report all other sexual misconduct within 5 days. University employees working under a license providing privilege may be exempt from reporting requirements. For more information about the duty to report, see the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
- If you are required to report the incident, explain your reporting responsibilities to the person who has disclosed the information to you. If you are able to explain options for confidential resources before receiving the disclosure, it is good to give someone a choice whether to disclose to a mandated reporter.
- If you learn information that you have to report, remember that report = support. When you report to the university, the survivor will receive rights and options to help them understand their choices. they are not obligated to proceed with any resources or processes.
See our handout for faculty and staff with reporting procedures and a list of resources.
Do's and Don'ts
While you are not expected to act as a counselor, when you are with someone who has experienced sexual misconduct, you should be aware that the supportiveness of your response can be critical in the healing process. Though there is no one "right" way to respond, the following may serve as a guide identifying more or less helpful responses:
- Give the survivor your complete attention.
- Validate the survivor's feelings.
- Tell the survivor:
- "I believe you."
- "This was not your fault." "You have options" Thank you for coming forward."
- Offer the survivor options:
- To sit or stand.
- To share more or be silent.
- To call referral agencies or not, or to have you call.
- Ask the survivor what they need.
- Remind the survivor that they are not alone, that other people of all genders have experienced sexual misconduct.
- Provide the survivor with information about the resources available to them, including confidential counseling, medical resources and reporting resources.
- Suggest to the survivor that they preserve evidence.
- Follow up with the survivor.
- Report the incident to the appropriate Title IX Coordinator if you are a University employee.
- Take care of yourself after dealing with the situation. Get support for yourself if you need it. Consider speaking with a confidential counselor.
- Tell the survivor that you know what they are going through.
- Label the experience for the survivor or make any legal conclusions.
- Minimize the survivor's experience (e.g. that's just how that person is.)
- Tell the survivor what they should do or make decisions for them.
- Ask the survivor questions that suggest they are to blame (e.g. What were you drinking? What were you wearing? Why didn't you run? What were you doing in that place?)
- Question whether the survivor is telling the truth or show doubt about their story.
- Tell the survivor that they need some proof or evidence.
- Touch the survivor's leg, shoulder, hand, etc. unless they have explicitly told you that it is okay to do so.
- Talk about your own issues or history.
- Guarantee complete confidentiality, particularly if you are a University employee with a reporting obligation.
- Panic. Take a deep breath and focus on listening to the survivor.