Prince Andrew's Sex Abuse Denials Could Be Triggering for Survivors

Prince Andrew's denials may trigger past traumatic experiences for victims of sexual abuse who should seek support, experts have told Newsweek.

Widespread media coverage of the Duke of York's case, along with the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, may be "very distressing" for survivors who are not involved in the cases.

It comes as Prince Andrew waits to learn whether he has been successful in getting his Jeffrey Epstein-related rape lawsuit thrown out.

The Duke of York had been dogged for several years by allegations he had sex with a 17-year-old trafficking victim. The prince denies all the accusations.

Psychologist Christiane Sanderson, a trustee of U.K. charity One in Four, told Newsweek past experiences from "many years ago" can "easily be reactivated and unleash a lot of pain and stress."

She said: "Whenever there is media coverage of high profile sexual abuse and sexual violence cases this can be extremely triggering for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sexual violence.

"The current coverage of Prince Andrew, Epstein and Maxwell is a good case in point. Such coverage is often very distressing as it revives memories of their own abuse experiences.

"This can be overwhelming as survivors often feel that they have overcome their abuse or have tried to put it into the past, only to find that it is still present and easily elicited.

"This is testament to what many survivors experience which is that even though things may have happened many years ago it can easily be reactivated and unleash a lot of pain and stress."

Prince Andrew's legal team has attacked his accuser's credibility, framing her as being motivated by money.

They have also sought to undermine the New York Child Victims Act, which created a window for historic civil claims from abuse victims which would normally be considered to have happened too long ago.

Andrew's lawyers argued the legislation was unconstitutional, prompting Child USA to seek permission to oppose the move.

The Maxwell case is also currently in turmoil after a juror spoke to the media about his past experiences of sexual abuse, leading the British socialite's team to seek a mistrial.

Jayne Butler, chief executive of U.K. charity Rape Crisis, told Newsweek: "The prevalence of male violence in news cycles can be overwhelming, bringing up painful memories and causing women to feel unsafe.

"It's so important that reporting of rape and sexual abuse is done sensitively, as many survivors will see these reports as a reflection of how society will perceive them.

"For example, if women and girls in news reports are disbelieved or blamed for what happened to them, this could discourage victims and survivors from speaking out and seeking support.

"Poor reporting can also contribute to perpetuating damaging rape myths and stereotypes."

Andrew Chan, owner of Delight Counselling, said: "Being surrounded every day by the Prince Andrew scandal can definitely be impacting on sexual abuse survivors, and we would advise seeking professional help if you find this news story particularly triggering and it is bringing up memories of past abuse that may have happened in your life.

"The denial and allegations against Virginia Guiffre, from Prince Andrew and his lawyers, could be very triggering for some survivors as a staggering 96 percent of people do not go to the police about their situation as they don't believe it is 'serious enough' or that anything will happen if they do report it.

"At Delight Counselling, we work with victims of sexual abuse, and our trained professionals are always on hand, so we urge you to seek professional help if you feel that you would benefit from it and it will help you move past previous traumas."

Specialists from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) sexual assault hotline are available 24/7 via phone (1 (800) 656-4673) and online chat. Additional support from the group is also accessible via the mobile app.

Prince Andrew at Windsor Church
Prince Andrew, seen at a Sunday church service in Windsor, on April 11, 2021, is trying to get his sexual abuse lawsuit thrown out. Experts say media coverage may be triggering for survivors. Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images