Working with survivors of abuse is difficult but extremely rewarding.
In partnership with Health in Mind and Healthier Scotland, Sarah Nelson and Sue Hampson compiled a booklet entitled Yes You Can! Working with Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. It is an excellent resource for professionals and volunteers who plan to or are currently working with survivors of abuse.
In their introduction*, Nelson and Hampson write:
[This booklet] offers important basic information, advice and good practice guidelines for working with male and female survivors…The information in this booklet will prove helpful to a wide range of people in the statutory and voluntary sectors, including staff and volunteers working in mental health, community projects, counselling and support services, health and social work services, homeless projects, addiction services, and older people’s projects. It will also be useful to those working in criminal justice and children, young people’s and families services…
The booklet outlines what sexual abuse is and what its effects can be. It looks at barriers to survivors speaking out, and at common fears among staff and volunteers about raising the issue with users or responding to a disclosure. It says a bit about the attitudes and approaches which survivors value as helpful, and those they find unhelpful. It sets out some good practice points for broaching the topic, responding to disclosures and ‘being with’ survivors in a one-to-one setting. It also makes some points about wider issues of support planning. Finally, it gives contact details for some useful organisations, notes issues around limits of confidentiality and has a list of resources.
The booklet has been written primarily for people who are working with adult survivors. We believe that the general principles outlined here are also relevant for those working with children and young people.
The booklet in its entirety can be read here* (also linked above).