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NCJ Number: 204835 Find in a Library
Title: Memory for Abuse: What Can We Learn From a Prosecution Sample?
Journal: Journal of Child Sexual Abuse  Volume:12  Issue:2  Dated:2003  Pages:97-103
Author(s): Jennifer J. Freyd
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 7
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This discussion of issues related to an adult's memory of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) focuses on differences in recollections of CSA between those whose CSA involved the prosecution of the perpetrators and those whose CSA experience did not involve prosecution.
Abstract: Goodman et al. (1992) examined memory of prior childhood sexual abuse in a sample of adolescents and young adults who had been victims of CSA that led to the criminal prosecution of the alleged perpetrator. At the time of the prosecution, the children had been part of a research project conducted by Goodman and colleagues. Follow-up research involved asking participants to report any experience of CSA. Eighty-one percent of the participants reported the documented CSA. The research concluded that "Results from this study indicate that forgetting of CSA may not be a common experience, at least not in a prosecution sample." The current discussion notes that CSA cases that make it to criminal prosecution are different from the vast majority of CSA cases that are not prosecuted. First, cases of children who have memory gaps or inconsistencies, or who cannot articulate their abuse are less likely to be accepted by prosecutors. Second, prosecution samples typically have a larger proportion of extra-familial offenders than nonprosecution samples. Third, once children are in prosecution samples, they tend to experience more public exposure of their victimization; whereas, most CSA victimization is kept secret. Fourth, once children are in prosecution samples, they receive a certain degree of legitimization; whereas, most CSA victimization is denied. Fifth, once children are in prosecution samples, they are afforded the opportunity and/or are required to describe their experiences; whereas, most CSA victims have little opportunity to discuss their abuse. In any determination of the credibility of delayed remembrances of CSA, it is critical to avoid generalizing from the prevalence of clear memories from highly unusual prosecution samples compared to CSA populations that may have lacked the opportunity of being "believed, supported, and legitimated." 7 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Adult survivors of child sexual abuse; Child Sexual Abuse; Mental disorders; Research methods; Witness credibility
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