Disclosing Sexual Assault: Understanding the Culture of Nondisclosure

Veronica R. Barrios, Jonathan Caspi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Understanding the culture of nondisclosure of sexual violence is critical since every 98 seconds in the United States a new perpetration of sexual abuse is committed. Disclosure rates lag behind victimization rates, with roughly 20% of sexual abuse experiences disclosed. Lack of disclosure is a public health concern given that abusers often have multiple victims and that survivors are less likely to seek help without disclosing. Intersectionality theory is offered as an organizing theoretical framework for learning about barriers to disclosure across three levels, the individual, their family, and society. Barriers at each level are presented. Finally, a discussion of how to shift the culture toward one of disclosure is given, and recommendations for research, practice, policy, and programming are offered.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Across the Lifespan
Subtitle of host publicationA Project of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV)
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783319899992
ISBN (Print)9783319899985
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Bioecological model
  • Culture of nondisclosure
  • Formal disclosure
  • Informal disclosure
  • Intersectionality
  • Patriarchy
  • Rape myths
  • Sexual abuse
  • Toxic masculinity
  • Unacknowledged victims


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