Aspects of social support and disclosure in the context of institutional abuse – Long-term impact on mental health

Brigitte Lueger-Schuster, Maria Asisa Butollo, Yvonne Moy, Reinhold Jagsch, Tobias Glück, Viktoria Kantor, Matthias Knefel, Dina Weindl

Publications: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract/Conference paperPeer Reviewed


Background: The psychological sequelae of institutionalized abuse (IA) and its long-term conse-
quences has not been systematically documented with regard to post-disclosure social support.
Although reporting abuse is crucial, there is ongoing controversy about the benefits of disclo-
sure. This study examines the interaction of disclosure and subsequent social support in relation
to mental health. The times of disclosure, behaviour during disclosure to a commission as adults,
perceived social support, and the effect on mental health were examined.
Methods: Data were collected from adult survivors who experienced childhood IA within the
Catholic Church. Instruments measured perceived social support, reactions to disclosure, PTSD,
and further symptoms.
Results: High levels of perceived social support after early disclosure correlated with better men-
tal health and less emotionally reactive behaviour during disclosure of childhood IA. Highly
levels of perceived social support seem to play a crucial role in mental health, but this inference
may be weakened by a possible interference of a competence in seeking social support versus
other social influences.
Conclusion: Future research should thus disentangle perceived social support into the compe-
tence of seeking social support versus socially influenced factors to provide more clarity about
the positive association between perceived social support and mental health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrauma und Gewalt
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 501010 Clinical psychology

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