How to Support a Respondent

It is normal to be unsure of how to respond when you learn that someone you care about has been accused of Sexual Misconduct. You may feel confused, betrayed, or even saddened by their alleged behavior. It is important to remember that, most of the time, the Respondent will not know that the report is coming; it often seems to come out of nowhere and can be startling. The investigation process, which you can find more information on here, is long and can be difficult for all involved. These suggestions for things you can say and do will allow you to support both them and yourself through this time.

This section is intended for those helping someone else who is accused, but if you are a Respondent yourself, there are many resources available to you during this time. Once you have been accused, federal offices state that you are owed the same supportive measures that are provided to Complainants. These resources, including CAPS, Student Health, and the Student Safety and Support Team, can be found in the Student Resources section as well as in the FAQ section on supportive measures. Remember, the Title IX Office is a neutral entity and your rights will be protected in the same way that the Complainant’s rights will be protected.

What to Say
  • Ask what they need from you; let them be the one to decide how involved they want you to be.

  • “I appreciate that you felt comfortable telling me this.” “Can I help you find resources?”

What to Do
  • Educate yourself on resources available through the University and Charlottesville (found here for students and here for employees) and provide these resources to the Respondent.

  • Listen actively without judgment; it is not your job to come to a conclusion about what happened, rather to be there as support.

Take Care of Yourself
  • Be honest with your limitations.

  • Talking and dealing with events like these can be traumatic, in order to best provide support you also need to ensure that you are also caring for yourself. Resources for students can be found here, and resources for employees can be found here.

What Not to Do
  • Do not harass them or threaten others involved in the situation

    • While everyone feels loyal to their friends and loved ones, violence and retaliation against any party involved is prohibited by the University (see here and here) and may result in disciplinary action against you. Be mindful of your words and actions, and if you are ever unsure of what constitutes Retaliation, please see the links above.

  • Don’t come to a conclusion about what happened and who, if anyone, is at fault in the situation.

    • This is not your job, the University has skilled teams who specialize in this sort of work, and they are the ones who will make the well-informed decision on the matter.

  • Don’t assume that helping the Respondent find resources means you approve of or condone their reported behavior.

    • If someone you know comes to you for help or support, you should never feel as though providing this to them will negatively impact your own life.