Responding to disclosures
Any member of staff at the University could receive a disclosure from a student that they have experienced sexual assault, harassment or hate. We understand that these are complex and difficult issues to deal with and we want to make sure that you feel prepared, and understand the support on offer from the University. You can access an online module, which provides further information and support in how to respond in the staff learning and development portal, as well as see upcoming training sessions with a member of the team on our training page. Click here to go to the training page.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that you are not expected to be an expert or to know the ins-and-outs of reporting to the University and the police. The most important things when responding to a student who is telling you that something traumatic has happened to them are;
- Belief and non-judgement: this means not questioning the student’s account and acknowledging the impact of what they are telling you.
- Empowerment: this means giving the student control over what happens next.
You should offer a referral with the student's consent to the Advice and Response team if they have disclosed experiencing any of the following:
- Sexual assault or rape
- Sexual harassment
- Domestic abuse
- 'Honour-based' abuse (including forced marriage)
- Hate Incident (These are acts of hostility, e.g. bullying, directed at someone because of an aspect of their identity. This includes racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, religious hate [e.g. Islamophobia and Antisemitism] and misogyny/misandry)
- Hate Crime
- Online harassment
If the student consents to the referral, you can submit a request to speak to an advisor on the student's behalf through the Report and Support platform;
The report will be picked up by an advisor who will respond within one to two working days.
If the student is unsure about the referral, you can show them the platform and let them know that they can self-refer at any time by following the same process of requesting to speak to an advisor through the Report and Support platform.
Depending on the nature of the referral, an Advice and Response Caseworker will do one or more of the following:
- Contact the student directly and offer support.
- Contact the person who made the referral to discuss their concerns and offer advice on how they can support the student.
- Liaise with other support services within or outside of the University of Manchester who may already be supporting the student.
- Support the student to access appropriate external services such as a GP, local crisis services, or mental health services.
- Where a student appears to be missing, attempt to establish whether the student is safe and well before escalating to senior staff to consider next steps.
An Advice and Response caseworker will confirm that your referral has been received and will follow up with the student as appropriate. Depending on the circumstances, we may not be able to share any detailed further information with you, but in most cases we would aim to provide you with an update, in order to jointly support the student and help keep them safe and well.
If you require any advice or support on managing disclosures or issues relating to the above issues please contact the University’s Advice and Response Team: