9. Barriers to disclosure

Barriers to disclosure


There are many reasons children and adults do not disclose abuse. Some of the reasons survivors have shared with us include:

  • scared that no-one would believe them
  • feel ashamed or embarrassed
  • feeling they are to blame for the abuse
  • threatened with violence if they tell
  • been told that a sibling, pet or loved one would be hurt
  • don’t always have the words to describe or explain the abuse
  • don’t understand that what’s happening is wrong
  • there were no adults they trusted to tell
  • want to protect the family or even the abuser(s)
  • they “love” the abuser and don’t want to lose the good parts of the relationship
  • feel powerless to stop the abuse
  • feel confused about what happened and how to talk about it
  • were told the abuse they experienced is normal


Many people also face barriers that further limit their options of who and when to disclose. A survivor who uses British Sign Language or where English is their second language for example, or someone who needs mobility assistance, may find it harder to access appropriate professional support.

Survivors have told us that recovery often requires multiple disclosures and it is important that they can access different support to meet their changing needs. It can also take a few attempts to connect with the right service or person.


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