Appendix 3. Guidance for receiving a disclosure of abuse

Appendix 3. Guidance for receiving a disclosure of abuse.

There are lots of reasons why someone might share that they are being abused including realising the abuse is wrong, not being able to cope anymore, wanting to protect others, trusting someone enough to tell them, or being asked directly. It can be very hard for them to open up about what's happened to them. They might be worried about the consequences or that nobody will believe them. They might've told someone before and nothing was done to help them. Sometimes they might not know what's happening to them is abuse and struggle to share what they're feeling. Some people don't reveal they're being abused for a long time, some never tell anyone.

What to do and how to respond if someone discloses abuse to you:

It’s important to remember that it is not your job to investigate. You should avoid asking leading or probing questions.

Receive. Listen carefully to what they're saying: be patient and focus on what you’re being told without interrupting. Try not to express your own views and feelings. If you appear shocked or as if you don’t believe them, it could make them stop talking and take back what they’ve said.

Reassure. Let them know they've done the right thing by telling you: reassurance can make a big impact. If they’ve kept the abuse a secret it can have a big impact knowing they’ve shared what’s happened. Tell them it's not their fault: abuse is never the fault of the person being abused. It’s important they hear, and know, this.

React. Say you'll take them seriously: they may have kept the abuse secret because they were scared they wouldn’t be believed. Make sure they know they can trust you and you’ll listen and support them. Don't confront the alleged abuser or tell them about the disclosure: confronting the alleged abuser could make the situation worse. Explain what you'll do next: for younger children, explain you’re going to speak to someone who will be able to help. For older children or Adults at Risk, explain you’ll need to report the abuse to someone who can help. Don’t promise confidentiality.

Record and report. Report what the Child or Adult at Risk has told you as soon as possible: report as soon after you’ve been told about the abuse so the details are fresh in your mind and action can be taken quickly. It can be helpful to take notes as soon after the disclosure. Keep these factual and as accurate as possible and be specific when noting the words used by the child or Adult at Risk, using their own words where you can. Record statements and observable things, not your interpretations or assumptions. Ensure that all the detail is recorded on the reporting form.

Don’t discuss the disclosure with people who do not need to know.

What will happen next? The DSL or DDSL’s will take the matter forward, including deciding upon next steps such as seeking further advice, informing external agencies, and coordinating communication and support for the Child or Adult at Risk as appropriate.

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