Sexual trauma disclosure in clinical settings: addressing diversity.

Abstract

Although sexual trauma is an experience with wide prevalence, it remains difficult for many individuals to discuss this trauma openly with others. Disclosure of a sexual trauma history to a receptive individual can lead to both emotional and instrumental support. However, a myriad of factors related not only to current circumstances but also to cultural and individual differences determine whether an individual will choose to share his or her trauma history with someone else. Mental health clinicians may be more likely than many other people to be the recipients of a disclosure of sexual trauma. Thus, ensuring that clinicians show sensitivity to the role that diverse demographic and cultural factors can play in the process of disclosure is important to facilitating a thoughtful and productive response to such an event. The current article reviews a segment of the literature on disclosure of sexual assault and focuses on selected diversity domains (i.e., nonheterosexual orientation, age, gender, and race) that may impact the disclosure of sexual assault. Practical suggestions are proposed to assist clinicians in assessing sexual trauma and facilitating disclosure in a culturally competent manner.

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