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How should I respond?

  • Try not to look shocked
  • Show you are interested but avoid comments which sensationalise/minimise or question the validity of what you are being told ("was it really that bad?")
  • Avoid making comments the victim may feel are judgemental – this may close down their confidence to disclose
  • Your role is to encourage the victim to disclose what has been happening, with a view to accessing the appropriate specialist service - don't feel you must offer counselling or easy solutions
  • Listen to the victim's concerns and treat disclosures seriously. They are best placed to know the capabilities of the perpetrator and the credibility of threats made against the victim
  • Offer reassurances that the perpetrator will not be informed of the disclosure, but that your discussion will confidential subject to safeguarding guidelines
  • Inform the victim that their choices will be respected and no action will be taken without their knowledge and consent
  • Validate what's happening to the individual. Key messages should include:
    • "You are not alone"
    • "You are not to blame for what is happening to you"
    • "You do not deserve to be treated in this way."
  • Do not attempt any form of mediation or reconciliation with the perpetrator, family and/or community members
  • Do not make assumptions or judgements based on perceptions of 'cultural difference'
  • Do not approach the victim's family or community leaders – this could heighten the risk to the victim.