The ties that bind: family barriers for adult women seeking to report childhood sexual assault in Australia

 
Author(s)Taylor, S. Caroline and Caroline Norma
Title The ties that bind: family barriers for adult women seeking to report childhood sexual assault in Australia
Source Women's Studies International Forum,March-April 2013, Vol 37, pp114-124
Date 2013
Document type Journal article
Coverage Australia
Summary This study explores the role that family members play in the delayed or non-reporting of childhood sexual assault. Sixty-four adult women participated in the study who responded to an online survey and agreed to participate in semi-structured, in-depth individual or focus group interviews. A number of participants reported disbelief and outright rejection of their disclosure by mothers and other family members. Some participants reported family members blaming the victim or trivialising the sexual assault. Many survivors of sexual assault who had disclosed to family members after a delayed time period found their families believed they should 'get over it. It was found that the reactions of family members can deeply affect the confidence of a victim to disclose further and report the crime. Sometimes the family members used the threat of rejection or the threat of emotional withdrawal or support as a means of dissuading survivors from reporting to police. Many women, particularly those who reported inadequate feelings of self-worth, believed disclosure of childhood sexual assault would unfairly burden family members. The authors suggest that there is a role for police in ensuring the safety and well-being of a victim who discloses abuse by a family member where the victim feels they are in danger of retribution, disbelief, losing family support or even becoming homeless.
Keywords Childhood sexual abuse; disclosure; family support; reporting to police
Topic

Sexual assault