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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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2020-05-06
Pages:163 to 176
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How to Cite
Gjika, A. and Marganski, A. J. (2020) “Silent Voices, Hidden Stories: A Review of Sexual Assault (Non)Disclosure Literature, Emerging Issues, and Call to Action”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 9(4), pp. 163-176. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v9i4.1439.

Author Biographies

Bard College
 United States

Anna Gjika, Ph.D. is Visiting Lecturer in Sociology at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Her research interests include exploring the relationships between gender, crime, and technology, particularly as they pertain to gendered violence, and institutional responses to this issue.

Le Moyne College
 United States

Alison J. Marganski, Ph.D. is Associate Professor & Director of Criminology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. Her research commonly employs a gendered social-ecological approach to studying violence victimization/perpetration, including technologically-facilitated violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and mass murder, along with their respective solutions.