The Process of Online Disclosures of Interpersonal Victimization: A Systematic Review

Keren Gueta, Carmit Klar-Chalamish, Sarah E. Ullman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Theory and research on disclosure of interpersonal victimization, including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and child abuse, has produced rich scholarship promoting a greater understanding of the challenges and implications of disclosure for survivors. However, in the last decade, social media platforms have opened new online disclosure opportunities that diverge from and overlap with offline disclosure. This highlights the need for adaptation and elaboration of theorizing in this growing area of study. Thus, the study aimed to systematically review the studies published in scientific literature. The following databases were accessed Criminal Justice Abstracts, Medline PsychInfo, Social Work Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, Web of Science database, and Google Scholar. Twenty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria of peer-reviewed status and focused on the disclosure process. A thematic analysis revealed that online disclosure of interpersonal victimization is a multi-phase (decision-making and disclosure aftermath) and multifactorial (individual, interpersonal, social, and technological) experience for survivors. Specifically, survivors’ motivation was related to therapeutic goals, social support, and a desire to advocate for social change. Survivors faced numerous facilitators (e.g., inspiration from other online disclosures) and barriers (e.g., fear of triggering other survivors) to disclosure. The impact of online disclosure was divided into benefits (e.g., empowerment) and risks (e.g., undermining survivors’ security). The conceptual and empirical limitations of the current research are discussed, including a need for quantitative methods with larger samples and longitudinal designs to better understand how survivors can best benefit from processes of online disclosure, while avoiding harm or re-traumatization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • disclosure
  • intimate partner violence
  • sexual victimization
  • social media


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