Is everything confidential?
It is a general principle of Circle that what is shared in Circle is held in confidence and with respect. In the second session of Circle, Circle Keepers lead the group in co-creating guidelines and agreements for how the group will function together, which always includes a conversation about confidentiality, among other issues of trust and safety. Circle Keepers and the rest of the Hidden Water staff keep all personal information shared, inside and outside Circle, confidential. This includes the names of anyone participating in a Circle. Hidden Water does not collect any information about participants beyond their contact information and the Circles they have attended. Hidden Water has a strict policy of not providing any documentation about attendance or participation to anyone outside of Hidden Water.
The only exception to our practice of confidentiality is if information surfaces which leads Hidden Water to believe that a child is currently being harmed or is in imminent danger of being harmed; Hidden Water chooses to follow the guidelines of mandatory reporting and will inform Child Protective Services of any information that might keep a child safe.
What constitutes “harm” or abuse”?
Many people do not have a clear picture or memory of the harm (but have a strong feeling that something happened) and they have asked us if they can join a Circle. The answer is yes. Others have asked: Is it necessary to have had penetration or on-going episodes of harm to be eligible for Hidden Water Circles?; or If the person that caused harm was not in the family, or if the person that was harmed wasn’t a child or doesn’t identify with the phrase “child sexual abuse”, can I still come through Hidden Water?; or If I don’t think what happened is legally considered “abuse" because the person who caused the sexual harm was not an adult, or the person who was harmed does not consider what happened “abuse”, does this still qualify?
The guideline for us is: if any violation of a sexual nature, clear or unclear in detail, happened to someone under the age of 18, by someone of any age, known to that minor or not, including a stranger, and you believe this has had a negative impact, this qualifies to participate in Hidden Water.
I’ve never talked with anyone about what happened. Can I still join a Circle?
Hidden Water Healing Circles strive to create a safe container to hold every person regardless of where they are in their healing process. Circles draw people at all different stages in their healing — from those who have never spoken of their experience to those who have been in dialogue or therapy for years. The richness of each Circle is often generated from the variety of experiences and perspectives within the Circle.
Speaking about child sexual abuse can be extremely challenging. Therefore, each Circle eases into the process and spends the first few weeks creating community agreements — norms with which the whole group works to build consensus. Community agreements are co-created so that if a person feels uncomfortable or triggered, there are guidelines, group norms and plans of action that can support you with what comes up.
For more FAQs, please see our FAQs page.