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Impact of sexual violence on disclosure during Home Office interviews

  • Diana Bögner (a1), Jane Herlihy (a2) and Chris R. Brewin (a3)

Abstract

Background

Late disclosure or nondisclosure during Home Office interviews is commonly cited as a reason to doubt an asylum seeker's credibility, but disclosure may be affected by other factors.

Aims

To determine whether and how sexual violence affects asylum seekers' disclosure of personal information during Home Office interviews.

Method

Twenty-seven refugees and asylum seekers were interviewed using semi-structured interviews and self-report measures.

Results

The majority of participants reported difficulties in disclosing. Those with a history of sexual violence reported more difficulties in disclosing personal information during Home Office interviews, were more likely to dissociate during these interviews and scored significantly higher on measures of posttraumatic stress symptoms and shame than those with a history of non-sexual violence.

Conclusions

The results indicate the importance of shame, dissociation and psychopathology in disclosure and support the need for immigration procedures sensitive to these issues. Judgments that late disclosure is indicative of a fabricated asylum claim must take into account the possibility of factors related to sexual violence and the circumstances of the interview process itself.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Diana Bögner, North London Forensic Service, Camlet Lodge Regional Secure Unit, Chase Farm Hospital Site, The Ridgeway, Enfield EN2 8JL, UK. Email: dianabogner@hotmail.com

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes

References

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Impact of sexual violence on disclosure during Home Office interviews

  • Diana Bögner (a1), Jane Herlihy (a2) and Chris R. Brewin (a3)
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