Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Assault: 

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Support and Information Line 403–237–5888


Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence 1–866–403–8000
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Mythbusting Monday: People should disclose abuse/assault in order to help stop the perpetrator.

Two recent studies from the University of Montreal have come out regarding disclosure behavior of childhood sexual abuse survivors. The first investigated how long it took the average child sexual abuse survivor to disclose their abuse, and the reasons why they may choose to stay silent. The second looked at survivors who delayed disclosing childhood sexual abuse and the possible long-term ramifications of this decision. Click here to read more about these studies.

According to the first study, most survivors wait at least five years to disclose their abuse, if they disclose it at all. The longer they wait to disclose, the “harder and more enduring the consequences will be,” from persistent anxiety and depression to a higher susceptibility to relationship violence in adulthood.

The benefits of disclosing are directly linked to the health and well-being of survivors – catching and reporting the perpetrator is not the first and best reason for opening up about abuse. Sexual abuse cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute, and reporting the crime and testifying at trial often re-traumatizes survivors.

Disclosure is difficult for survivors of sexual abuse, because many blame themselves for somehow facilitating the crime – an idea that is re-enforced by victim-blaming myths common in society. In fact, voicing the idea that the survivor has a responsibility to report the abuse in order to help others can be another way of re-victimizing them: it upholds society’s focus on the victim’s behaviour, while ignoring the responsibility perpetrators have in committing this crime.

There are times, however, when reporting to authorities is mandatory: in Alberta, every adult over the age of 18 is obligated to report child abuse to the authorities. If you know or suspect a child is being abused, contact Alberta Child and Family Services in your region.

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