Supporting an Accused Student
If someone confides in you that they've been accused of sexual misconduct, it may be hard to know what to do next. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the conversation.
- Be a good listener. You don't need to take sides, decide whether or not sexual misconduct occurred, or even express your opinion at all. Just listen. Provide a safe space for your friend to share with you.
- Encourage them to reach out to support resources. Being involved in a sexual misconduct report can be stressful and emotional. Encourage them to speak with a support resource, including University Counseling or the Employee Assistance Program. If the University is conducting an investigation into the report, interim supportive measures are available to them. If your friend has concerns, encourage them to raise those concerns with the Title IX Coordinator to see if an interim supportive measure can be put into place.
- Respect privacy. Do not discuss the situation with others unless you are required to do so by law or asked to do so as part of the University resolution process.
- Be respectful in your support. Do not engage in any actions on your friend's behalf that could be retaliatory in nature. Allow the University resolution processes to fairly and impartially adjudicate a report. Violence or retaliation is not the answer to helping your friend, could undermine any court or university proceeding and will result in disciplinary sanctions.
- Encourage them not to contact the complainant.
- Check in. The investigation process can be long and emotionally taxing. Continue to check in and offer your help.
- Support Yourself. Remember that you cannot effectively support anyone unless you take care of your own emotional, physical and mental health. Supporting someone who is dealing with sexual misconduct allegations can be emotionally draining. Remember that the counseling resources available to your friend are available to you too.