Training and resources for professionals

What should I do if someone discloses abuse?

In Coventry, tackling abuse is everyone's business and our aspiration is that all staff have training to at least a basic level so they can recognise domestic/sexual abuse and know what to do if someone makes a disclosure. If you haven't had time to do the training yet here are some simple guidelines to follow:

The following advice applied to both adults and children who make disclosures: For School Staff Barnardo's have a very helpful website on sexually harmful behaviours with links to the service they provide. Remember, that if someone is in immediate danger you should contact the police for advice. 


  • Listen carefully (that means not talking except to indicate that you have head and understood the information being given)
  • Prioritise the victim’s safety and the children’s safety
  • Find out what the victim wants and let them choose what they need from you
  • Find out if the victim would prefer to talk to someone else (e.g. someone of the same sex, someone from the same cultural background)
  • Provide information about options and don’t make choices for the victim
  • Focus on facts, keep opinions to yourself
  • Believe the victim and reassure them that it is not their fault
  • Be clear about confidentiality
  • Be patient and respectful
  • Keep clear records and don’t disclose any information that may put the victim at risk
  • Believe what the victim is telling you and be clear about what will happen next
  • Tell them about the specialist support services that are available and how to access them if they want to
  • Follow safeguarding procedures where vulnerable adults or children are involved
  • If in doubt - ask your line manger. If there is no-one available i your organisation you could contact Haven (domestic abuse) or CRASAC (sexual abuse) for advice. 


  • Panic
  • Assume that if there is no violence, that it is not serious
  • Talk too much
  • Tell the victim what to do
  • Guess at the information
  • Expect too much
  • Offer more than you can deliver (or make promises you can't keep)
  • Act as a mediator or contact point with the perpetrator
  • Make judgements
  • Do nothing - trust your gut instinct