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How journalists can work sensitively with survivors of sexual abuse

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Few can fail to be horrified by the sexual violation of children revealed time and again through the series of investigative reports by IICSA, the Independent Inquiry in Child Sexual Abuse, that published its final report today.

Some survivors have chosen to give interviews. It is highly sensitive work, yet journalists remain largely untrained in how best to go about it.

Jo Healey, a journalist and specialist trainer in Trauma Reporting teamed up with Dr Danny Taggart, a lead psychologist with IICSA. They have produced media tips with the input and insight of 20 survivors from Angles, a project from charity OnRoad Media and from Louise Godbold, a survivor of Harvey Weinstein's abuse.

Media tips for working with survivors

Sexual violence is often profoundly traumatic. Working well with survivors is not just about what to do and what to say but how to be. Be human.

These tips offer guidance, but please ask your interviewee what works for them.

Some considerations:

  • Shame: they may feel ashamed of what happened, ashamed about people knowing, they may have been made to feel complicit
  • Guilt: they may feel they were at fault, to blame, could have stopped it, should have spoken out sooner
  • Belief: they may fear not being believed. They may have tried to disclose and not been believed
  • Stigma: they may feel humiliated, damaged, that people will look down on them
  • Fear: they may feel afraid of their abuser, of breaking up........

    © journalism.co.uk

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