On June 27, 2022, the Center for Sexual Violence (CSG) will publish the research report ‘Thresholds for disclosure of sexual violence in anonymous online assistance’† The research results show that research is urgently needed. These results confirm the picture we have had for a long time. That more awareness is needed about how feelings of shame, guilt and fear arise after (online) sexual abuse. And that we as a society must ensure that these feelings diminish or disappear. Only when we succeed in this do victims dare to talk about (online) sexual abuse and they know how to find the right assistance that is available to them. That reports ANP Expert Support.
In the collaboration with young people for our platform WTFFF!? we also see that feelings of shame, guilt and fear are often intertwined. The taboo surrounding (online) sexual abuse feeds this shame. And feelings of shame can in turn increase the feeling of guilt: something that perpetrators are happy to respond to. Subsequently, you often see that shame and guilt increase the fear of sharing about the sexual abuse.
It’s a toxic dynamic that keeps victims from reaching specialized help. How do we ensure that these barriers are lowered or disappeared?
The road to improvement starts with awareness. As a society, we must be aware of the subtle power play by perpetrators of (online) sexual abuse. Because we have too little knowledge of the gray zone in which sexual abuse often takes place or of the dynamics between victims and perpetrators, we often unconsciously place the blame and responsibility on the victim.
Powerful role models
In addition, there is a great need for even more powerful role models. Stories of victims who have regained their strength help other victims achieve the same. These role models show that you can overcome feelings of shame, guilt and fear. And that, when you cross those barriers, very good specialized help is available.
With WTFFF!?, developed in collaboration with young people, we hope to lower the barriers to specialized assistance from, among others, the Center for Sexual Violence, Helpwanted and Fier.
By: National Education Guide
‘After sexual abuse, it is important that guilt, shame and fear disappear’
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