Impact of sexual violence on disclosure duringHome Office interviews

Late disclosure or non disclosure during Home Office interviews is commonly cited as a reason to doubt an asylum seeker’s credibility, but disclosure maybe affected by other factors.

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

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

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,weremorelikely to dissociate during these interviews and scored significantly higher on measures of post traumatic stress symptoms and shame than those with a history of non-sexual violence.

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 disclosureis 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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