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22 Law & Psychol. Rev. 103 (1998)
Is It Repressed Memory with Delayed Recall or Is It False Memory Syndrome - The Controversy and Its Potential Legal Implications

handle is hein.journals/lpsyr22 and id is 107 raw text is: IS IT REPRESSED MEMORY WITH DELAYED RECALL OR IS IT
Lynn Holdsworth
The public should be wary of two kinds of therapists: those
who offer instant child abuse diagnoses, and those who dis-
miss claims or reports of sexual abuse without exploration.'
Society regards sexual abuse of children as a particularly
egregious act2 and, accordingly, it is often punished severely in
the criminal justice system as well as in the civil arena. Over
the past decade, alleged victims have started coming forward,
asserting that they were sexually abused in the past with no
recollection until recent times.8 Many have sought retribution in
* J.D. Stetson University College of Law, 1997.
1. American Psychological Association, Interim Report of the Working Group on
Investigation of Memories of Childhood Abuse, 2 SHEPARD'S EXPERT AND SCIENTIFIc
EVID. Q. 465, 466-67 (1994).
2. The April, 1995 issue of Res Gestae reported that in 1991 there were
129,697 confirmed sexual abuse reports and that 204,404 were the result of physical
abuse inflicted by a caretaker. Further, the article reports that one in four women
and one in six men in America were sexually abused during childhood. Additionally,
it cites survey statistics indicating that twelve million American women have been
raped and that the victims were under the age of eighteen nearly two-thirds of the
time. See Elesa F. Kramer, Repressed Memory, RES GESTAE, Apr. 1995, at 13 (citing
reports by the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the National Victim
Center, and FAIR, a national media watch group). These staggering numbers may,
in fact, be much lower than the actual number of victims of childhood sexual abuse,
given the number that may have experienced repressed memories of the events and
those that choose not to come forward for fear of retaliation by the perpetrator or
fear that the allegations will be met with disbelief.
3. While there has been much controversy regarding the debate over repressed
memory and much publicity surrounding such litigation, a 1995 survey of psycho-
therapists in the United States and England suggests that only approximately six
percent of the clients who experienced recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse
pursued legal remedies against the alleged perpetrators. See D. Stephen Lindsay &
J. Don Read, 'Memory Work and Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse:
Scientific Evidence and Public, Professional, and Personal Issues, 1 PSYCHOL. PUB.
POLVY & L 846, 884 (1995).

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