One hundred twenty-nine women with previously documented histories of sexual victimization in childhood were interviewed and asked detailed questions about their abuse histories to answer the question "Do people actually forget traumatic events such as child sexual abuse, and if so, how common is such forgetting?" A large proportion of the women (38%) did not recall the abuse that had been reported 17 years earlier. Women who were younger at the time of the abuse and those who were molested by someone they knew were more likely to have no recall of the abuse. The implications for research and practice are discussed. Long periods with no memory of abuse should not be regarded as evidence that the abuse did not occur. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 62(6), Dec 1994, 1167-1176
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One hundred twenty-nine women with previously documented histories of sexual victimization in childhood were interviewed and asked detailed questions about their abuse histories to answer the question “Do people actually forget traumatic events such as child sexual abuse, and if so, how common is such forgetting?” A large proportion of the women (38%) did not recall the abuse that had been reported 17 years earlier. Women who were younger at the time of the abuse and those who were molested by someone they knew were more likely to have no recall of the abuse. The implications for research and practice are discussed. Long periods with no memory of abuse should not be regarded as evidence that the abuse did not occur. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 62(6), Dec 1994, 1167-1176

-Linda M.

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One year later the society claimed victory in another case which again did not fit within the parameters of the syndrome, nor did the court find on the issue. Fiona Reay, a 33 year old care assistant, accused her father of systematic sexual abuse during her childhood. The facts of her childhood were not in dispute: she had run away from home on a number of occasions and there was evidence that she had never been enrolled in secondary school. Her father said it was because she was ‘young and stupid’. He had physically assaulted Fiona on a number of occasions, one of which occurred when she was sixteen. The police had been called to the house by her boyfriend; after he had dropped her home, he heard her screaming as her father beat her with a dog chain.As before there was no evidence of repression of memory in this case. Fiona Reay had been telling the same story to different health professionals for years. Her medical records document her consistent reference to family problems from the age of 14. She finally made a clear statement in 1982 when she asked a gynaecologist if her need for a hysterectomy could be related to the fact that she had been sexually abused by her father. Five years later she was admitted to psychiatric hospital stating that one of the precipitant factors causing her breakdown had been an unexpected visit from her father. She found him stroking her daughter. There had been no therapy, no regression and no hypnosis prior to the allegations being made public.The jury took 27 minutes to find Fiona Reay’s father not guilty of rape and indecent assault. As before, the court did not hear evidence from expert witnesses stating that Fiona was suffering from false memory syndrome. The only suggestion of this was by the defence counsel, Toby Hed­worth. In his closing remarks he referred to the ‘worrying phenomenon of people coming to believe in phantom memories’.The next case which was claimed as a triumph for false memory was heard in March 1995. A father was aquitted of raping his daughter. The claims of the BFMS followed the familiar pattern of not fitting within the parameters of false memory at all. The daughter made the allegations to staff members whom she had befriended during her stay in psychiatric hospital. As before there was no evidence of memory repression or recovery during therapy and again the case failed due to lack of corrobo­rating evidence. Yet the society picked up on the defence solicitor’s statements that the daughter was a prone to ‘fantasise’ about sexual matters and had been sexually promiscuous with other patients in the hospital.~ Trouble and Strife, Issues 37-43

-Trouble and

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But nothing in my previous work had prepared me for the experience of reinvestigating Cleveland. It is worth — given the passage of time — recalling the basic architecture of the Crisis: 121 children from many different and largely unrelated families had been taken into the care of Cleveland County Council in the three short months of the summer of 1987. (p18)The key to resolving the puzzle of Cleveland was the children. What had actually happened to them? Had they been abused - or had the paediatricians and social workers (as public opinion held) been over-zealous and plain wrong? Curiously — particularly given its high profile, year-long sittings and £5 million cost — this was the one central issue never addressed by the Butler-Sloss judicial testimony and sifting of internal evidence, the inquiry's remit did not require it to answer the main question. Ten years after the crisis, my colleagues and I set about reconstructing the records of the 121 children at its heart to determine exactly what had happened to them... (p19)Eventually, though, we did assemble the data given to the Butler-Sloss Inquiry. This divided into two categories: the confidential material, presented in camera, and the transcripts of public sessions of the hearings. Putting the two together we assembled our own database on the children each identified only by the code-letters assigned to them by Butler-Sloss. When it was finished, this database told a startlingly different story from the public myth. In every case there was some prima fade evidence to suggest the possibility of abuse. Far from the media fiction of parents taking their children to Middlesbrough General Hospital for a tummy ache or a sore thumb and suddenly being presented with a diagnosis of child sexual abuse, the true story was of families known to social services for months or years, histories of physical and sexual abuse of siblings and of prior discussions with parents about these concerns. In several of the cases the children themselves had made detailed disclosures of abuse; many of the pre-verbal children displayed severe emotional or behavioural symptoms consistent with sexual abuse. There were even some families in which a convicted sex offender had moved in with mother and children. (p20)

-Sue Richardson

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It is worth — given the passage of time — recalling the basic architecture of the Crisis: 121 children from many different and largely unrelated families had been taken into the care of Cleveland County Council in the three short months of the summer of 1987. Behind these headline statistics were decades of neglect and/or misunderstanding of the issue of child sexual abuse, a long-running dispute between police and paediatricians over who should have primacy in the investigation of such cases and the presence of two dedicated paediatricians at Middlesbrough General Hospital. Dr Marietta Higgs and Dr Geoffrey Wyatt had both understanding of, and training in, recognising the physical signs that a child’s body had been abused. One of these signs was — and still is reflex anal dilatation (RAD): a simple clue which is suggestive of anal penetration from outside. It had been recognised as a valuable weapon in the armoury of doctors examining children for many decades and was endorsed by both the British Medical Association and the Association of Police Surgeons. Yet by July 1987, the paediatricians were at the centre of a national storm of outrage — denounced by politicians, press, television and public opinion. The parents of the 121 children taken into care were lionised for their courage or portrayed as the victims of a monstrous witch-hunt. Their voices — sometimes their faces — dominated newsstands and television bulletins. When the courts seemed to be returning all their children to them, the nation seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, while simultaneously demanding the scalps of the paediatricians and social workers. (p18)In every case there was some prima fade evidence to suggest the possibility of abuse. Far from the media fiction of parents taking their children to Middlesbrough General Hospital for a tummy ache or a sore thumb and suddenly being presented with a diagnosis of child sexual abuse, the true story was of families known to social services for months or years, histories of physical and sexual abuse of siblings and of prior discussions with parents about these concerns. In several of the cases the children themselves had made detailed disclosures of abuse; many of the pre-verbal children displayed severe emotional or behavioural symptoms consistent with sexual abuse. There were even some families in which a convicted sex offender had moved in with mother and children. All of this information had been presented to the Butler-Sloss Inquiry. Virtually none of it had emerged from that inquiry into the public arena and certainly not into the vitriolic media coverage of Cleveland. To my colleagues and me this seemed initially impossible to comprehend: how could this have happened? How could truth have been turned on its head so completely? And why, given the apparent strength of the evidence, did the courts come to close their minds to these children's cases? (p20)

-Sue Richardson

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It was Freud's ambition to discover the cause of hysteria, the archetypal female neurosis of his time. In his early investigations, he gained the trust and confidence of many women, who revealed their troubles to him.Time after time, Freud's patients, women from prosperous, conventional families, unburdened painful memories of childhood sexual encounters with men they had trusted: family friends, relatives, and fathers. Freud initially believed his patients and recognized the significance of their confessions. In 1896, with the publication of two works, The Aetiology of Hysteria and Studies on Hysteria, he announced that he had solved the mystery of the female neurosis. At the origin of every case of hysteria, Freud asserted, was a childhood sexual trauma.But Freud was never comfortable with this discovery, because of what it implied about the behavior of respectable family men. If his patients' reports were true, incest was not a rare abuse, confined to the poor and the mentally defective, but was endemic to the patriarchal family. Recognizing the implicit challenge to patriarchal values, Freud refused to identify fathers publicly as sexual aggressors. Though in his private correspondence he cited "seduction by the father" as the "essential point" in hysteria, he was never able to bring himself to make this statement in public. Scrupulously honest and courageous in other respects, Freud falsified his incest cases. In The Aetiology of Hysteria, Freud implausibly identified governessss, nurses, maids, and children of both sexes as the offenders. In Studies in Hysteria, he managed to name an uncle as the seducer in two cases. Many years later, Freud acknowledged that the "uncles" who had molested Rosaslia and Katharina were in fact their fathers. Though he had shown little reluctance to shock prudish sensibilities in other matters, Freud claimed that "discretion" had led him to suppress this essential information. Even though Freud had gone to such lengths to avoid publicly inculpating fathers, he remained so distressed by his seduction theory that within a year he repudiated it entirely. He concluded that his patients' numerous reports of sexual abuse were untrue. This conclusion was based not on any new evidence from patients, but rather on Freud's own growing unwillingness to believe that licentious behavior on the part of fathers could be so widespread. His correspondence of the period revealed that he was particularly troubled by awareness of his own incestuous wishes toward his daughter, and by suspicions of his father, who had died recently.p9-10

-Judith Lewis

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While many experts insisted that children seldom lie about sexual abuse, others claimed that young children often failed to distinguish between fact and fiction and might be susceptible to suggestion and pressure on the part of investigators. As more of these allegations arose in custody and divorce cases in which one parent was being accused, the issue of deliberate malice and vindictiveness on the part of the accusing parent became a matter for consideration. Were these parents intentionally coaching their children to lie in order to punish a hated ex-spouse or to gain advantage in a divorce settlement? There were many professionals—lawyers, judges, clinicians, psychiatrists—who became convinced that this was the case. Articles in respectable publications like Time and Newsweek cited statistics indicating that fictitious allegations made by divorcing parents were on the rise, and lawyers were quoted describing sex abuse allegations as the ‘atom bomb of custody disputes.’ There were also parents—predominantly mothers—who found evidence suggesting a good possibility that their children had been sexually molested by ex-spouses. Sometimes a child’s disclosures or physical or psychological symptoms led a mother to seek medical or psychological advice. Often the suggestion that abuse had occurred came not from the mother but from a doctor or a psychologist. Initial shock and disbelief on the part of these mothers was followed with the hope and expectation that the proper authorities, to whom suspicion of abuse was reported, would conduct appropriate investigations and take the steps necessary to protect their children. Rapidly they found that the systems response was very different from what they had expected. As protective mothers in cases against fathers, these women were automatically labeled vindictive, malicious, and paranoid, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Suddenly they found themselves in a Kafkaesque labyrinth of courts and state-run systems, among lawyers, judges, social workers, and experts, where the end result was almost always the same—returning or delivering the child to the alleged molester. Could this really be happening in America? Coverage of high-profile cases in the respected print media tends to reflect the attitudes of a handful of very vocal, self-styled ‘experts.” They have fueled the widespread public perception that false allegations of child sexual abuse are appearing with increased frequency in custody cases. Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, this belief has been adopted by many in the legal profession and by a sizeable segment of the mental health community. The purpose of this book is to challenge these misconceptions. Sex abuse allegations that occur during custody disputes are frequently presumed to be false because they have arisen during or just before a custody case, regardless of the evidence. Because of this presumption on the part of private professionals and public officials, when children who suffer incest become the subjects of custody disputes, often their outcries are not believed and they are not protected. Custody of such children is likely to be given to the very adults accused of molesting them. (page x)

-Leora N.

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Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33While Pamela Freyd was speaking to us on the record about her organization, another development was in the making in the Freyd family. Since Pamela and her husband, Peter Freyd, started the Foundation and its massive public relations effort in which they present as a "falsely accused" couple, their daughter, Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D., remained publicly silent regarding her parents' claims and the activities of the FMS Foundation. She only wished to preserve her privacy. But, as the Foundation's publicity efforts gained a national foothold, Dr. Jennifer Freyd decided that her continued anonymity amounted to complicity. She began to feel that her silence was beginning to have unwitting effects. She saw that she was giving the appearance of agreeing with her parents' public claims and decided she had to speak out.Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D., is a tenured Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. Along with George K. Ganaway, M.D. (a member of the FMS Foundation Scientific Advisory Board), Lawrence R. Klein, Ph.D., and Stephen H. Landman, Ph.D., she was an invited presenter for The Center for Mental Health at Foote Hospital's Continuing Education Conference: Controversies Around Recovered Memories of Incest and Ritualistic Abuse, held on August 7, 1993 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Jennifer Freyd's presentation, "Theoretical and Personal Perspectives on the Delayed Memory Debate," included professional remarks on the conference topic, along with a personal section in which she, for the first time, publicly gave her side of the Freyd family story.In her statement, she alleges a pattern of boundary and privacy violations by her parents, some of which have occurred under the auspices of the Foundation; a pattern of inappropriate and unwanted sexualization by her father and denial by her mother, and a pattern of intimidation and manipulation by her parents since the inception of the Foundation. She also recounts that several members of the original FMS Foundation Scientific Advisory Board had dual professional relationships with the Freyd family.

-David L.

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Some alters are what Dr Ross describes in Multiple Personality Disorder as 'fragments'. which are 'relatively limited psychic states that express only one feeling, hold one memory, or carry out a limited task in the person's life. A fragment might be a frightened child who holds the memory of one particular abuse incident.' In complex multiples, Dr Ross continues, the 'personalities are relatively full-bodied, complete states capable of a range of emotions and behaviours.' The alters will have 'executive control some substantial amount of time over the person's life'. He stresses, and I repeat his emphasis, 'Complex MPD with over 15 alter personalities and complicated amnesia barriers are associated with 100 percent frequency of childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse.' Did I imagine the castle, the dungeon, the ritual orgies and violations? Did Lucy, Billy, Samuel, Eliza, Shirley and Kato make it all up? I went back to the industrial estate and found the castle. It was an old factory that had burned to the ground, but the charred ruins of the basement remained. I closed my eyes and could see the black candles, the dancing shadows, the inverted pentagram, the people chanting through hooded robes. I could see myself among other children being abused in ways that defy imagination. I have no doubt now that the cult of devil worshippers was nothing more than a ring of paedophiles, the satanic paraphernalia a cover for their true lusts: the innocent bodies of young children.

-Alice Jamieson

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The BFMSS [British False Memory Syndrome Society]The founder of the 'false memory' movement in Britain is an accused father. Two of his adult daughters say that Roger Scotford sexually abused them in childhood. He denied this and responded by launching a spectacular counter-attack, which enjoyed apparently unlimited and uncritical air time in the mass media and provoke Establishment institutions that had made no public utterance about abuse to pronounce on the accused adults' repudiation of it.p171-172The 'British False Memory Syndrome Society' lent a scientific aura to the allegations - the alchemy of 'falsehood' and 'memory' stirred with disease and science. The new name pathologised the accusers and drew attention away from the accused. But the so-called syndrome attacked not only the source of the stories but also the alliances between the survivors' movement and practitioners in the health, welfare, and the criminal justice system. The allies were represented no longer as credulous dupes but as malevolent agents who imported a miasma of the 'false memories' into the imaginations of distressed victims.Roger Scotford was a former naval officer turned successful property developer living in a Georgian house overlooking an uninterrupted valley in luscious middle England. He was a rich man and was able to give up everything to devote himself to the crusade.He says his family life was normal and that he had been a 'Dr Spock father'. But his first wife disagrees and his second wife, although believing him innocent, describes his children's childhood as very difficult. His daughters say they had a significantly unhappy childhood.In the autumn of 1991, his middle daughter invited him to her home to confront him with the story of her childhood. She was supported by a friend and he was invited to listen and then leave. She told him that he had abused her throughout her youth. Scotford, however, said that the daughter went to a homeopath for treatment for thrush/candida and then blamed the condition on him. He also said his daughter, who was in her twenties, had been upset during a recent trip to France to buy a property. He said he booked them into a hotel where they would share a room. This was not odd, he insisted, 'to me it was quite natural'. He told journalists and scholars the same story, in the same way, reciting the details of her allegations, drawing attention to her body and the details of what she said he had done to her. Some seemed to find the detail persuasive. Several found it spooky.p172-173

-Beatrix Campbell

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Another preoccupation fed into this dynamic relationship between discovery and denial: does sexual abuse actually matter? Should it, in fact, be allowed? After all, it was only in the 19070s that the Paedophile Information Exchange had argued for adults’ right to have sex with children – or rather by a slippery sleight of word, PIE inverted the imperative by arguing that children should have the right to have sex with adults. This group had been disbanded after the imprisonment of Tom O’Carroll, its leader, with some of its activists bunkered in Holland’s paedophile enclaves, only to re-appear over the parapets in the sex crime controversies of the 1990s. How recent it was, then, that paedophilia was fielded as one of the liberation movements, how many of those on the left and right of the political firmament, were – and still are – persuaded that sex with children is merely another case for individual freedom?Few people in Britain at the turn of the century publicly defend adults’ rights to sex with children. But some do, and they are to be found nesting in the coalition crusading against evidence of sexual suffering. They have learned from the 1970s, masked their intentions and diverted attention on to ‘the system’. Others may not have come out for paedophilia but they are apparently content to enter into political alliances with those who have. We believe that this makes their critique of survivors and their allies unreliable. Others genuinely believe in false memories, but may not be aware of the credentials of some of their advisors.

-Beatrix Campbell

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(Talking about the movement to deny the prevalence and effects of adult sexual exploitation of children)So what does this movement consist of? Who are the movers and shakers? Well molesters are in it, of course. There are web pages telling them how to defend themselves against accusations, to retain confidence about their ‘loving and natural’ feelings for children, with advice on what lawyers to approach, how to complain, how to harass those helping their children. Then there’s the Men’s Movements, their web pages throbbing with excitement if they find ‘proof’ of conspiracy between feminists, divorcing wives and therapists to victimise men, fathers and husbands.Then there are journalists. A few have been vitally important in the US and Britain in establishing the fightback, using their power and influence to distort the work of child protection professionals and campaign against children’s testimony. Then there are other journalists who dance in and out of the debates waggling their columns behind them, rarely observing basic journalistic manners, but who use this debate to service something else – a crack at the welfare state, standards, feminism, ‘touchy, feely, post-Diana victimhood’. Then there is the academic voice, landing in the middle of court cases or inquiries, offering ‘rational authority’. Then there is the government. During the entire period of discovery and denial, not one Cabinet minister made a statement about the prevalence of sexual abuse or the harm it caused.Finally there are the ‘retractors’. For this movement to take off, it had to have ‘human interest’ victims – the accused – and then a happy ending – the ‘retractors’. We are aware that those ‘retractors’ whose parents trail them to newspapers, television studios and conferences are struggling. Lest we forget, they recanted under palpable pressure.

-Beatrix Campbell

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