Highlighting option to involve support people of the student’s choice.
When responding to a disclosure or report of sexual violence, highlight that students have the choice to involve support people of their choice, including friends or family members. Offer to reach out to support people if the student prefers. This applies to the victim/survivor or complainant and respondent.
Some participants in our study spoke about how, if they were to experience sexual violence, they would want someone close to them, such as a friend or family member, to accompany them to any related appointments. Others explained that they imagined providing this kind of accompaniment if a friend came to them for support following sexual violence. A trauma-informed perspective also recognizes that the right to accompaniment can also be important for respondents. Accompaniment may be particularly important for students engaged with university SV/SA systems who belong to marginalized communities and expect their interactions with the system to be shaped by bias or lack of cultural understanding. Students may not be aware they have the option to bring someone with them. Therefore, we suggest making sure students know this soon after a disclosure or report.