How to respond to child sexual abuse disclosures, with celebrity examples

“I believe you.”

When a child discloses sexual abuse, this simple statement can make a world of difference in the recovery and healing process. False reports are extremely rare.

It’s been hard to miss the press on the Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow child sexual abuse controversy. Since Farrow’s open letter in the New York Times, people all over the world (including many well-known celebrities) have weighed in on the issue.

This weekend, Scarlett Johansson added her voice:

“I think [Woody Allen will] continue to know what he knows about the situation, and I’m sure the other people involved have their own experience with it. It’s not like this is somebody that’s been prosecuted and found guilty of something, and you can then go, ‘I don’t support this lifestyle or whatever.’ I mean, it’s all guesswork.”

Unfortunately, hers is a common response. All too often people find the topic uncomfortable so they avoid it altogether. It’s irresponsible for us as a society to dismiss reports of child sexual abuse as “guesswork” and to undermine the seriousness of the issue by calling it a “lifestyle” without factoring in the trauma faced by abused children.

In contrast, Girls creator Lena Dunham had this to say:

“To share in this way is courageous, powerful and generous…Most victims NEVER speak up. Most never feel they can. These are not stories we tell for fun, attention or revenge.”

Now that’s a celebrity culture worthy of our children.

One Response to How to respond to child sexual abuse disclosures, with celebrity examples

  • Hello:

    I followed the link about “false reports” being extremely rare and love the resource/statistics page you guys have put together. Great stuff.

    The specific source for this claim is from 1989. Are you aware of any more recent studies that may have been conducted on this issue?


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