Recent media coverage may cause distress to sex abuse survivors, expert warns

Sex abuse victims "re-traumatised" by recent publicity, say psychologists


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TROUBLED: Survivors of child sexual abuse are being urged to seek suppport if recent media coverage is causing distress.

TROUBLED: Survivors of child sexual abuse are being urged to seek suppport if recent media coverage is causing distress.

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Recent news stories about sexual abuse may trigger hard-to-deal-with emotions: Australian Psychological Society

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SURVIVORS of sexual abuse are being urged to seek professional support if recent media coverage triggers distress. 

The Australian Psychological Society has warned people may feel "re-traumatised" and may need to draw on self-care strategies.

Society president Ros Knight said survivors of childhood sexual abuse in particular may find recent coverage extremely upsetting.  “It can trigger emotions that may be hard to deal with, such as anger, sadness or distress." 

She said however that survivors, friends and family would experience a range of responses to news, and some would cope relatively well. 

Australian Psychological Society president Ros Knight. Photo Jerry Galea.

Australian Psychological Society president Ros Knight. Photo Jerry Galea.

“If you’ve been surviving well, now is the time to draw on the self-care strategies that have worked for you,” she said.

Ms Knight also urged people to call on their support network.  “Don’t remain isolated in your discomfort.  Talk with trusted family, friends or anyone who understands your background and why this news is difficult or triggering for you.”

Ms Knight said people who were feeling distressed should not hesitate to reach out for professional help.  

This could be a psychologist counsellor you’ve trusted in the past or a crisis service.

“It can trigger emotions that may be hard to deal with, such as anger, sadness or distress." - Australian Psychological Society president Ros Knight

People who have not had their sexual abuse experiences heard before may now wish to talk to someone about this, and these professional supports can be helpful, she said.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800-737-732), Lifeline, 131-114, Blue Knot or beyondblue 1300-224-636.

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