The ties that bind: Family barriers for adult women seeking to report childhood sexual assault in Australia
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Justice Research Centre
In this article, we observe that barriers to the disclosure and reporting of sexual assault reside within families. We draw on qualitative survey data, as well as interviews with adult victims of childhood sexual assault, to show how women are impeded by family members when attempting to disclose or report sexual assault. Taylor and Putt (2007) identified three ‘family constraints on [sexual violence] reporting’ for women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in Australia. These were: 1) Family denial that sexual violence exists, 2) Reluctance to report a partner perpetrator, and 3) Fear of being ostracised for bringing shame upon the family (p. 4). We examine whether similar barriers to reporting exist for adult female survivors of childhood sexual assault who are from non-CALD backgrounds. On the basis of our findings, we urge greater police and public recognition of, and sensitivity to barriers extant within non-CALD families that contribute to the under-reporting of sexual assault by women in Australia.