Silent Voices, Hidden Stories: A Review of Sexual Assault (Non)Disclosure Literature, Emerging Issues, and Call to Action
Social media and digital platforms are being used to disclose sexual and dating violence experiences and to unite victims/survivors in social, educational, and advocacy efforts. While digital disclosure can be empowering, there are reasons why some individuals do not disclose. This article focuses on the nuances underlying decisions to (and not to) disclose victimization experiences online, and also presents a call to action, particularly for researchers and practitioners working on sexual violence intervention and prevention. Through a comparative, international literature review, the authors highlight research on factors affecting disclosure decisions while also considering contemporary issues that may impact these decisions. They conclude that, in responding to victims’ and survivors’ “justice” needs (e.g., physical and emotional safety, conscious choice, and empowerment), an intersectional feminist lens is essential in today’s complex digital world in affording an understanding of variation in disclosure practices. When combined with trauma-informed care, such an approach holds promise for transforming existing online environments into more inclusive and compassionate socio-technological spaces.
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