The necessity of this course could not be more apparent, while we are beginning to understand the scale and prevalence of sexual violence in Universities, it is essential that this growing awareness is supported by building capability to respond effectively to disclosures without creating more distress to those who have been affected by it. Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence is a resource based on reliable evidence of incidences in the sector and the trauma that can be associated with them. It provides context to facilitate an understanding of the diversity of experiences that may lead up to a disclosure. It also provides clear guidance of how best to support someone through the process based on their needs whilst maintaining personal agency. There are interactive opportunities throughout where this learning can be applied. I was glad to be able to support the development of the course as a reviewer in an iterative, consultative process that included stakeholders, bringing my experience of working in Universities and as someone actively involved with services that support people who are being stalked.
We know that sexual harassment and violence whilst at University is common. We also know that it can undermine students’ ability to realise the future they have come to study for. Student facing roles within Universities need to be able to handle disclosures of sexual harassment and violence in a way that supports both the survivor and responder. A good listener in this context is based on an informed understanding of sexual abuse and violence. This gives staff the tools to draw robust boundaries on the limits of their role and quickly direct those reporting towards a trauma informed pathway to help. For me, this training should be part of a whole university approach to prevention and part of wider efforts to ensure women have equal access to education.
I had the pleasure of assisting to review the ‘Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence’ course. Having worked in multiple countries and universities tackling this issues, it was an honour to be asked to provide feedback on this course. As a reviewer, I felt comfortable and able to provide constructive and honest feedback and I felt like my voice was valued as a practitioner delivering on the ground work for students. I found my comments were valued and considered for the final version. The second version of the course adds so much more value, including a strong emphasis on inclusivity and cultural context of what the student experience entails. I highly recommend this course for students and universities as an introduction to responding to disclosures, to hopefully supplement already existing work in this area.
This updated & revised version of Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence builds upon the excellent materials previously available and highlights the key role that all staff members have when they know – or suspect- someone is affected by sexual violence or other forms of abuse. The range & accessibility of the content supports individual staff to identify that even without being “expert” in this complex field, they can help survivors to understand that they are not responsible for the abuse and that support, and effective interventions are available to help reduce the impact of the trauma that can occur after experiencing any form of abuse.
All staff across our institutions have an important role in our broader support for student safety & well-being & this course gives many practical & trauma informed examples of the indicators of abuse- as well as helping survivors to understand that their feelings of shame, fear & guilt are classic responses and the content equips staff to have the tools & resources to offer this reassurance which is immensely beneficial & therapeutic to student survivors.