Child sexual abuse disclosure: how to support adult survivors (DAA019)

A co-produced training by survivors and professionals

Supporting adult survivors to disclose child sexual abuse is paramount to facilitating their access to appropriate care and support across various contexts.

This interactive, online course has been produced in collaboration with the Tavistock Trauma Service, a Lived Experience Advisory Panel of survivors, and the Network for the promotion of change: NRCSA and has arisen out of the growing recognition of the prevalence of child sexual abuse and its impact on adult survivors.

Rooted in the voices of survivors, this course will provide comprehensive guidance, support and resources on what to do if someone discloses child sexual abuse. Upon completion of this training, you will feel more confident in addressing child sexual abuse disclosure – a conversation which can be challenging for both the speaker and the listener – and have the necessary tools to improve the experience and likelihood of survivors disclosing.

Aims and learning objectives

This course has been co-produced by people with lived experience of child sexual abuse and reflects the voices of survivors throughout the content. The aim of the content is to highlight the dilemmas and the experience of the survivor when disclosing to you.

This is not a safeguarding training, although you will learn about the safeguarding issues relevant to childhood sexual abuse and how to access other courses that cover this in more detail.

By completing this course, you will:

  • develop the confidence to helpfully receive a disclosure of sexual abuse from a survivor
  • consider the experience of survivors when talking to health and social care professionals about their experiences and what triggers are present in professional settings
  • recognise and better understand the impacts of child sexual abuse and some behaviours that present in adult survivors
  • consider some different ways that race, gender and sexual discrimination can prevent disclosure of child sexual abuse and lead to further isolation and misunderstanding
  • better understand how previous negative experiences of disclosure may impact what is happening between you and the survivor

Who will I learn from?

The course has been designed by professionals and survivors with expertise in the field of child sexual abuse and its disclosure. This includes the Tavistock Trauma Service, a Lived Experience Advisory Panel of survivors and the Network for the promotion of change: NRCSA.

  • The Lived Experience Advisory Panel is a diverse group survivors of child sexual abuse, many of whom work in this field, supporting other survivors.
  • The Network for the promotion of change: NRCSA includes clinicians, academics, and survivors from the fields of psychology, psychotherapy and anthropology. Members of the network have also worked at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
  • The Tavistock Trauma Service has a specialist NRCSA service working with adults, providing individual and group therapy, art therapy, yoga therapy as well as the opportunity to engage in groups, such as gardening. Experience gained from this work is used in the production of the training and in seeking the views of professionals who work in both mental health and physical health care fields

Who is this course for?

This course is for all professionals who may encounter adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse within their work. This includes, but is not limited to, therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, GPs, obstetricians, social workers, midwives, emergency service workers, those working in genito-urinary medicine, voluntary sector workers including rape crisis centres, and other health care professionals such as dentists.

We can also provide this training for groups and organisations and have experience of facilitating bespoke training. Please contact for further information.

Course details

This online course will be open for bookings soon. In the meantime, you can register your interest and we will contact you when it opens.

Once open, this online course will run continuously – meaning that you can sign up at any time. It offers self-directed learning which you can undertake at a time, pace and location that suits you.

You will have access to the course and its materials for one year. Access begins the day after you’ve booked, when you will receive your account details by email.

You’ll engage with video interviews from survivors and professionals, interactive lectures, reflective activities, poems and artwork, recommendations for further reading and opportunities for self-assessment.

This is not a skills-based training, although there are tools and learning that you can take away. You will be provided with information, and engage through interactive learning, to more fully understand the many different needs that a survivor may have when telling you about child sexual abuse. At the end of this training, you may still have worries, questions and concerns and this is to be expected. Throughout the training there will be lots of opportunity to reflect on your experience and this is encouraged as an important learning tool. It can also be helpful to talk further with your colleagues or manager and think about how you continue to develop your thinking.

You will cover the following areas:


  • how child abuse has been perceived in society, moving from outrage to denial towards greater acceptance
  • the role of survivors in keeping child sexual abuse on the public and political agenda
  • the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Truth Project and how this has affected the visibility of child sexual abuse as well as developing an understanding of disclosure

What do we mean by disclosure?

  • definitions of disclosure
  • staff/professional and organisational barriers to disclosure
  • how intersectionality affects disclosure and why it might be harder for certain groups to disclose
  • disclosure as a relational process involving the breaking of secrets

The survivor’s experience of disclosure

  • the different reasons why a survivor might disclose child sexual abuse
  • what has helped survivors disclose
  • learnings from difficult experiences of disclosure
  • the different experience of males and Black and other People of Colour
  • how a survivor might present in a professional setting, understanding trauma
  • what a trigger is and what triggers might be present in your professional setting
  • words and the importance of language in disclosure
  • the many identities of a survivor
  • learning how survivors’ experiences can help develop your professional practice

Professional’s experience of disclosure

  • an understanding of trauma and why this is important to know
  • how active listening can help facilitate disclosure and what are the limitations of this for certain groups
  • the importance of choice and respect in asking survivors what they need you to do
  • safeguarding concerns and the importance of asking for help

Working together and putting learning into practice

  • the importance of reflection and developing awareness about your emotions and how this can help you to listen to survivors
  • how trauma-informed care can improve the experience for survivors, and the limitations of this approach
  • reflect on self-care and support as a tool for professional and personal development and where you can go for further support
  • where to get help for the survivor

There are no specific requirements for the course although we suggest you are working with, or have an interest in working with adult survivors of child sexual abuse, or in situations where a disclosure might take place.

There’s a self-assessment at the end of the course which, on completion, provides access to a completion certificate from The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Course facilitators

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