Research released on long-term effects of disclosure

25 August 2016

A new research report conducted for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has examined the long-term effects of disclosures of institutional child sexual abuse on survivors and their families.

Family relationships and the disclosure of institutional child sexual abuse was written by Dr Antonia Quadara, Mary Stathopoulos and Rachel Carson.

The Royal Commission appointed the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) to undertake research into the long-term effects of disclosures which included 50 in-depth interviews with survivors of institutional child sexual abuse and family members who received such disclosures.

Royal Commission CEO, Philip Reed, said the research was invaluable in assisting understanding of the long-term impacts of disclosures on survivors and their families. It also added new understanding to the international evidence base on disclosure of child sexual abuse.

The report found that many adult disclosures were triggered by crises such as relationship difficulties, job loss or work pressures, anxiety and depression.

Disclosures by young adults (aged 18-23 years) often occurred in the context of key life transitions such as finishing high school, beginning university study, leaving home or entering into an intimate relationship.

Disclosures by younger children were more likely to be indirect, non-verbal or the result of direct questioning or discovery by primary carers.

Mr Reed said he hoped the research would better inform service planning and development.

“The report shows there is a need for delivery of therapeutic and non-therapeutic support services to survivors and their families, not just in the aftermath of disclosure, but as their needs change throughout their lives.”

The report contains extensive discussion of child sexual abuse. If you experience distress you can call 1800 Respect (1800 732 732).

Read the full report.

Content updating Updating complete