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Disclosing

How do you respond when someone tells you that they were sexually abused as a child? How important is that first disclosure?


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About your hosts

A short description about the episode co-hosts


Disclosing Child Sexual Abuse Podcast (Video or Audio Options)

A more in-depth podcast episode, giving context and personal stories associated with the topic.


Things you should and shouldn't say to someone disclosing Child Sexual Abuse

A short video episode, focusing on two things you should and two things you shouldn’t say to someone who has experienced (or is experiencing) child sexual abuse.


Episode transcripts

Full transcripts and subtitles are available for you to download


A Recap

A written summary of the key advice in these episodes


Additional Tips

Any additional resources mentioned are highlighted here


 

About your hosts


Sophia - Founder of Secrets Worth Sharing

Sophia (she/her) is a survivor of child sexual abuse and the founder of Secrets Worth Sharing, where she builds a community of having these difficult conversations with 'serious joy'.


Jeremy Indika - Founder of Something to Say

Jeremy (he/him) is an online content creator, survivors and motivational speaker around childhood sexual abuse. He is also the founder of 'Something to Say' platform.



 

Disclosing Child Sexual Abuse Podcast

More In-depth Podcast, 20-28 minutes.


Don't like watching videos? Listen on Spotify instead!



In the world of childhood sexual abuse, 'disclosing' means to tell someone that you have been through this experience. But how do you get up to that point, should you even tell someone, and what happens if you do? Join Sophia Luu (she/her) and Jeremy Indika (he/him) for personal stories of their first disclosures, some common responses they have received, and the experience of going public.

 

Things you should and shouldn't say when someone is disclosing Child Sexual Abuse

Video episode, 8-10 minutes


Approachable, practical advise from Sophia (she/her) and Jeremy (he/him) on what you should and shouldn't say when someone tells you that they have been sexualy abused as a child. Of course, these are our own opinions but we hope that this will help you think about how you would react during a disclosure.



 

Download the Episode Transcripts



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To recap...

Things you should say/do when someone discloses

Why?

Remember you don't need to analyse it or have an answer, give the person the space to feel

When people are being told something truly dark and horrible, it can be natural to feel powerless and one way of getting arounf this is to try and find an answer. This is not always helpful to the person, as for them, telling somoene about the abuse might be the answer. Try to remain calm so that the person doesn't have to manage your actions,

"If you aren't ready to talk about this detail right now, let's carry on this conversation at a time and place you feel ready”

A conversation about child sexual abuse doesn't have to be the ONLY conversation about childhood sexual abuse. Handle different elements at different times, based on what feels appropriate. For example, if someone is telling a person about the abuse for the very first time, it might feel overwhelming to suddenly start asking about police and court processes. Instead ask them about what part of the abuse they would like to have a talk about and that can help you to have a more supportive and focused conversation.

[In a group setting] make sure that everyone else in the room has space to process the emotions of the survivor.

Sometimes, especially in a group disclosure, ask yourself “why did this person want me in the room?” And therefore, “how can I manage some of the reactions of those who feel a bit more closer to the person” is an important way to think about how you can best support the survivor. For example, if you are a close relative of a non-abusing parent, how can you support them by calmly asking the survivor what they would like to do and how they would best like their parent to support them. How can you support loved ones who might have to testify in a legal/court situation, and does the survivor want you to disclose to other family members on their behalf? All of these are important things to consider as the disclosure goes forward.

Things you shouldn't say when someone discloses

Why

Do not panic

When someone is taking the time to tell you that they've been abused, they need space to share what's on their mind. By panicking, you end up taking the space away from them.

Do not say "Was it really that bad though?"

Remember, the person telling you has trusted you to tell you this. By questioning their experience, you are also questioning this trust.

Do not say "But were you raped though?"

All forms of child sexual abuse are traumatic and terrible. It has affected the survivor to the point that they are holding it for years. The conversation steers away from the survivors experiences and instead focuses on the actions of the abuser, which is partly what led to the person's silence. It is unhelpful to compare actions and effects of abuse, as this creates competition among survivors instead of challenge the actions of the abuser.

[When talking to a teen/ young adult] Do not say "Let the adults handle this now"

Since childhood, the person has been dealing with abuse and will have felt like they have had to 'grow up' and be responsible for adults emotions through their actions, for example through keeping silent. Even if you feel lie you need to protect the young person by handling the situation, you take away their agency of choice from a situation they have been handling for years. A better way to phrase this is "how would you like us to support you better now? the options we can think of are x y and z." This gives a choice to the survivors without having to put all the agency on them.

Do not say "But were you raped, though?"

Questions like that bring it into a trauma olympics, because really all forms of this abuse are terrible and also can lead to what are more extreme forms of abuse and have all affected that person to the point that it has been in their head so much that for years they have kept up with them and then decided to disclose to you. Right. And now you're saying to them, “oh, but was it rape though?” or, “was it what I consider the most violent, horrific form of abuse”. That conversation get steered away from “here are some perpetrators who've violated my trust, sometimes my body and definitely my feelings.”

Do not say "You should speak out"

It's not always the best option for everyone. They might be worried about how their loved ones respond, they might not be ready to or want to tell authorities, especially when conviction rates of abusers is exteremely low and a long and re-traumatising process. At the end of the day, be grateful that the person chose to disclose to you in the first place. Let people know that option is there if they need it. And for people around them to be prepared if they decide to do that one day.

 

Additional resources and tips


Bonus Clip: From Jeremy talking about the time he prosecuted his offender






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