Ash Catton

PhD Candidate, Clinical Psychology Student

Invalidating Responses to Self-Disclosure: The Mediating Role of Shame on Disclosure Inhibition

While the disclosure of sexual assault by victims is a crucial step in ensuring a positive recovery, it also has important implications for both research and our wider social understanding around the nature and prevalence of sexual assault. 

High levels of distress and uncertainty often experienced by victims is usually ameliorated by receiving validating feedback to disclosure. Despite this, victims face numerous barriers that inhibit disclosure to both formal and informal support providers. 

One such barrier, anticipating negative reactions, has received much attention from researchers. Specifically, qualitative research has found that victims’ aversion to being shamed by other people as an important factor in their decision to disclose. 

However, no experimental design has yet tested whether receiving negative feedback to the disclosure of a negative emotional experience has resulted in feelings of shame, and whether shame is associated with an aversion towards re-disclosure of that experience. 

This study aims to test whether shame mediates the association between negative feedback and aversion towards re-disclosure in an experimental design.