Sexual Assault Centre

Responding to a Disclosure of Sexual Assault

University personnel can be among the most trusted people in a student’s life and are often who students confide in after a sexual assault experience. Regardless of whether the experience was recent or historical, it is important that people receive a compassionate and supportive response to their disclosure. The following guidelines can encourage the person to talk about their experience, access supports, and seek justice.


The act of listening without judgment can help create a safe environment for the person to talk about their experience.

  • Allow the person to share as much or as little as they feel comfortable without interrupting.
  • Avoid asking questions about what happened, especially those that begin with the word “why…” as it forces the person to defend their actions to you.
  • Acknowledge the courage it has taken to talk about it.
  • Be empathetic of the impact it’s having on the person and express your care and concern.


Most people who disclose are worried that they won’t be believed or that they will be blamed for what happened to them. Show you believe them by making simple statements such as:

  • “Thank you for telling me “
  • “I’m sorry that happened to you”
  • “I believe you”

Not feeling believed will negatively impact the individual’s recovery process. Our role is not to judge — all we need to do is fully support the person.

Ask how you can help

Disclosing a sexual assault is typically only done when assistance is needed to rectify a situation. Simply asking “What can I do to help you?” can open the door to exploring the type of assistance you can provide based on your professional role.

Explore options

Each person has the right to make their own decisions as to what to do next and to have those choices respected. Asking the person what they would like to do can help them re-establish some control after an experience where they had none. If you are U of A faculty or staff supporting an individual, contact the U of A Sexual Assault Centre for consultation and advising around issues related to sexual violence.

  • Call or visit the U of A Sexual Assault Centre for

    Anonymous drop-in support for anyone affected by sexual assault or abuse, sexual harassment, relationship violence, or stalking.

    Detailed exploration of options available, safety planning, strategies for coping, and self-care. 

    Free, comprehensive psychological services for survivors of sexual assault or abuse. 

    Follow-up support and/or accompaniment service for those who seek medical attention, report their experience to law enforcement or U of A Protective Services, or are involved in a campus or judicial complaint process. 

    Advocacy to support students’ personal well-being, safety, and academic success.

    U of A Sexual Assault Centre | 2-705 SUB | 780-492-9771

  • Choose to do nothing

    Each person will know which, if any, of these options are best for them. The University of Alberta respects each person’s right to make their own decisions regarding their personal recovery after sexual assault.

  • Report
    Edmonton Police Services


    University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS)
    Education Car Park

    U of A Office of Safe Disclosure and Human Rights
    300 Campus Tower

    To report anonymously through a third party report, contact the U of A Sexual Assault Centre
    2-705 SUB

    Not reporting is a valid option.

  • Seek medical attention
    For general medical treatment, pregnancy, or STI/HIV concerns, consider: 

    Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) nurse
    access through Edmonton-area emergency rooms within 7 days of the assault 

    U of A Health Centre
    2-200 SUB

    STI Clinic
    11111 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton

    personal family physician 

    For emergency contraception consider:
    U of A Heath Centre Pharmacy
    1-20 SUB

    any pharmacy

  • Seek other counselling and support
    U of A Counselling and Clinical Services

    2-600 SUB

    Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE)
    Suite 205 – 14964
    121A Ave

    24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACE)

    Employee & Family Assistance Program

    Interfaith Chaplains Association

    Talk with a trusted friend, family member, residence staff, or spiritual leader.