Keeping you and your audience safe


If as a professional working in the media, you have been affected by sexual harm and you want to talk with someone about your experiences, there are people who work in a range of services who can provide you with practical information, advice, help and support on your terms. Find out more about them in our specialist organisations pages from page 27 (for comment) or page 29 (for support).

your audience

The word ‘trigger’ is well used but sometimes misused which can minimise the reality for someone experiencing trauma. A ‘trigger’ can be a sight, sound, smell, taste or touch; anything which can spark a memory which transports a person back to a traumatic event/their traumatic experiences, or which brings a memory or sensation of a past experience directly into their present. When an individual is triggered they may experience emotional and/or physical responses and these can be profoundly distressing and debilitating.

In relation to the reporting of sexual harm, things that may trigger trauma may include:

  • Violent, dark or other negative imagery
  • Suspenseful, jarring or negative music or sounds
  • Violent or salacious language
  • Intimate descriptions of sexual harm

Please note that the following content may be triggering to individuals who have experienced or been affected by sexual harm

how you can respect trauma

let them know:

Let your audience know that the content you are communicating contains references to sexual harm, particularly when intimate details may be provided.

This will give anyone who may be triggered by the content, the opportunity to make their own choice about if/how/when/where to access it. This does not mean someone will choose not to access your story, but it might be they want to do it when someone they care about is at home with them, for example, or when they are not in public.

Be mindful of the imagery you use:

Stock images of individuals in vulnerable states such as ‘head hugging’ or ‘about to be assaulted’ portray people at their most vulnerable. Individuals who have experienced sexual offences are so much more than the harm they have endured, and other stock images can be used to communicate the nature of the story. This use of inappropriate stock images can also further perpetrates how victims and survivors are stereotyped.

Provide details of how your audience can access support

Highlight that a range of support is available for anyone who may have been affected by sexual crimes, and/or who may be experiencing trauma as a result. This can save lives. You can find out more about those organisations here.

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