Adult survivors of child sexual abuse often struggle for help in coping with their trauma because of negative reactions from confidants and a lack of effective support from professionals, a local NGO says.
Rainlily, a crisis centre for sexual violence victims, on Tuesday launched a report entitled Belated Listening, Delayed Healing. It showed that disclosures of childhood abuse are often met with dismissive attitudes from confidants, which may lead to a form of secondary trauma.
The report says abuse survivors often decide to seek professional help from social workers and counsellors, medical professionals and law enforcement agencies. While some received helpful support, others found the services unsupportive.
Some survivors felt victim-blamed by their counsellors and some others believed they were being pressured by police into dropping their cases.
“She [the police officer] kept asking me to consider carefully…whether I should continue the case investigation or not…She asked me to consider withdrawing the case a few times,” according to one respondent quoted in the report.
The study called for more comprehensive sex education for children and teens, training in prevention for caregivers and long-term support for survivors.
Institutional changes, such as improving public education on gender equality and allocating more resources to support research, are also needed to combat hostile attitudes towards sexual violence survivors, according to Rainlily.
“As the problem of sexual violence against women remains serious yet unchanged nowadays, the government should speed up its work in this area or else risk failing to deliver its promise of cultivating a gender-friendly society in Hong Kong,” the report said.