What to do when abuse is suspected
Do stay calm and remain non-judgmental. Put your own feelings aside and try not to communicate shock, disgust, embarrassment, or disbelief.
- Do be supportive. Stay close to the alleged victim immediately after the disclosure to provide some sense of physical security.
- Do assure the individual that he/she did the right thing by telling you about the allegations. Never tell the alleged victim that you do not believe her/him.
- Do ensure the individual's safety. Ensure the alleged abuser(s) does not have access to the alleged victim.
- Do explain the requirement to immediately report to DPPC and to your supervisor (assuming the supervisor is not part of the complaint).
- Do assure the alleged victim that someone will stand by her/him in the process of getting help.
- Do seek privacy, if possible, so the individual is protected from disclosing in public.
- Do listen closely if the victim wants to talk, but do not ask questions beyond what is necessary to protect the victim and preserve evidence.
- Do gather essential information, by asking:
- What happened? Only enough to establish that abuse or a crime has occurred.
- Where did it happen? Important to know for notifying the authorities, securing the scene and protecting evidence.
- When did it happen? If within 120 hours of sexual assault, go to an emergency room for a sexual assault exam, preferably a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) designated hospital.
- Who is the alleged abuser? If appropriate, ask obvious questions of the alleged abuser about what happened such as why he/she is two hours late arriving back from an appointment with the individual.
- Do gather and document basic information on the alleged victim and alleged abuser, as reported.
- Do, when possible, collect relevant logs, schedules, correspondence, etc.
- Do prevent loss or destruction of known evidence.
- Do contain & control the situation.
- Do ensure allegations are not repeated to others.
- Do control contact with the alleged abuser/suspect. Contact should be limited to one representative of the program.
- Do file an Abuse Report by calling DPPC 24 Hour Hotline at 1-800-426-9009 V/TTY.
- Do call 911 in an emergency.
What Not to Do When Abuse is Suspected
Do not agree to keep the information secret.
- Do not conduct an investigation. Remember that it is not up to you to investigate or elaborate on the alleged victim's story. Your job is to keep the victim safe and to report the allegations.
- Do not bathe the victim of an alleged sexual assault or rape.
- Do not change the clothes of an alleged victim of a sexual assault or rape.
- Do not wash the bed linens or clothing of an alleged victim of a sexual assault or rape.
- Do not clean the location of an alleged sexual assault or rape.
- Do not re-interview the individual.
- Do not interpret or edit the information.
- Do not interrogate the alleged abuser/suspect.
- Do not involve other persons.
- Do not interview other individuals or staff.
- Do not go looking for evidence.
- Do not touch physical evidence.