Leaving Neverland: Self Care
Over the past few weeks, Channel 4 has been advertising the UK premiere of the HBO Documentary – Leaving Neverland, which airs this week.
Due to the subject matter of the 4 hour long film, press attention has focused on the allegations surrounding Jackson and the stories of the two male survivors at the heart of the story, Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
The film includes explicit and descriptive firsthand accounts of childhood sexual abuse and its lasting impact, symptoms of trauma, and the process of healing that these two men experienced, and which may be familiar to other survivors. Some scenes, especially those including home videos and photographs, may trigger memories and intense emotions for survivors, parents, and others affected.
As the film premieres in the USA (03.03.19) and receives its UK premiere (06.03.19) and more details are released, the media attention will increase and with that, we know that many people will find it difficult. Therefore, Survivors Manchester would like to highlight advice given by HBO that may help survivors practice self care during this time.
The following suggestions, which were co-developed by the broadcaster and with our friends at 1in6, can assist as you watch ‘Leaving Neverland’:
Take your time. We recommend taking a break between the two 2-hour segments. If the material becomes overwhelming and you are concerned about receiving content that may negatively impact you or you become distressed, allow yourself to take a break, walk away, or turn it off.
Check in with yourself. While survivors can lead thriving, productive lives, it is normal for individuals who have experienced sexual abuse either directly or indirectly to experience a host of feelings and emotions. If you feel you may need some support, you can check in with www.malesurvivor.co.uk or call the National Male Survivor Helpline on 0808 800 5005.
Watch in a supportive environment. Plan to view in a space that feels safe and supportive to you. You may choose to watch alone or with others. Make a plan to engage with your support network before, during and after viewing.
Arrange for ways to debrief after watching difficult content. This may mean spending time alone or amongst community to discuss the material in a supportive environment. Be mindful of social media engagement during or after the airing of the documentary as some responses to the program may cause further distress
As a final note, “Stories of sexual violence tend to prompt reactions from the public, who either agree or disagree with the allegations. It can be painful to read about people not believing a survivor’s story or the difficulties of a particular investigation. Remind yourself that these stories are not happening to you in this moment, and find comfort by talking to someone you trust.” — RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) USA.