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 harm was also under 18 years old, 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.
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.
The person who harmed my child was not a family member. Can I still join an Orange Circle?
Yes, definitely. The impact of childhood sexual abuse permeates the lives of adults, whole family systems and communities in very similar ways whether the person who was harmed was someone within the family system or was outside the family system (such as clergy, babysitters, neighbors, teachers, coaches, older friends, and even strangers).