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Managing a Disclosure

Supporting Disclosures of Sexual Misconduct

The University has a duty to provide neutral and balanced support to all students, whether the student is reporting an allegation of misconduct or responding to an any allegation. It is possible that a student will choose to disclose an incident of sexual misconduct to any staff member. It is likely the student has chosen a particular person because they know them and feel they can trust them. A disclosure will be unique to each student’s situation and it is important to remain calm, reassure the student, assess the situation/risk, listen to their story and provide support and options. Sexual Misconduct can be experienced by anyone. It is crucial the staff member creates a safe space and that the student is aware of their options so they can make an informed choice. Remind the student of the limits of confidentiality and your possible legal obligations. 

University Commitment

Queen’s University is committed to providing a safe environment conducive to the academic, social and personal development of all members of the University. The University will take all reasonable steps to provide a safe environment for all students, staff and visitors to the University. This principle applies to all members of the University. The University regards as unacceptable any form of sexual misconduct and operates a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual misconduct. 

Definition of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct means any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation or coercion. Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender and it can occur between people of the same or different gender. Such behaviour will usually also constitute a criminal offence. Sexual misconduct may be committed in person and also by letter, email, text or by postings on social media sites. Examples of sexual misconduct can include sexual intercourse or engaging in a sexual act without consent, attempting to engage in sexual intercourse or a sexual act without consent, sharing private sexual material of another person without consent, kissing without consent, touching inappropriately without consent, inappropriately showing sexual organs to another person, making unwanted remarks, suggestive sounds or gestures of a sexual nature, spreading rumours about another person’s sexuality, name-calling or jokes about sex or gender and visual displays of posters, graffiti, videos, pictures or other offensive material. These examples are neither exclusive nor exhaustive and other forms of behaviour may be regarded as sexual misconduct. It is likely these examples will constitute a criminal offence. 

Managing a Disclosure

If someone has told you about something that happened to them, we can help advise you on how best to support them, and how to decide what is the best course of action to take.

Give them control

Sexual violence is about power and control, so it is important to give the person making the disclosure as much choice as possible.

Listen without judging

Give the person your full attention without giving your opinions.

Believe them

Believing the person is really important for their recovery. Remember the blame always lies with the perpetrator.

Don't ask too many questions

Try not to ask too many questions, especially leading ones. Try to stick to just the facts.

Acknowledge how they are feeling

Everyone will react in different ways, so explain that it is okay to feel this way right now.

Offer support

Let them know about Support Services and agree a plan. Don't make false promises, and agree to check in with them soon.