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Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Survey of Young Adults

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 22 Issue: 12 Dated: December 1998 Pages: 1217-1238
M A Epstein; B L Bottoms
Date Published
22 pages
Information was gathered from 772 male and 940 female students at the University of Illinois about the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse, the characteristics of the abuse, and factors associated with forgetting it temporarily.
A substantial minority of the abuse victims in the sample reported having temporarily forgotten their childhood sexual abuse. Forgetting was largely unassociated with victim or abuse characteristics. However, individuals who temporarily forgot were more likely than those who always remembered their abuse to report that someone had suggested to them that they might have experienced abuse. Those who received such suggestions were particularly likely to suspect that they might have experienced childhood sexual abuse that they did not yet remember. Findings suggested that forgetting may be less common than implied by earlier estimates from clinical samples, yet it is not uncommon. In addition, a sizable minority of the population wonders whether they have experienced unremembered abuse; those suspicions are liked to having encountered suggestions from others. Findings indicated the need for further research that examines issues related to the controversy over repressed memory. Tables and 109 references (Author abstract modified)