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Memory. 1997 Nov;5(6):703-24.

Remembering and forgetting childhood sexual abuse.

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Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Out of a large number of university students who responded to a questionnaire about childhood sexual abuse (CSA), approximately a quarter reported that they had an experience in childhood that qualified. The majority of students who reported a CSA experience refused, elsewhere in the questionnaire, to classify themselves as 'sexually abused'. Moreover, those who claimed lack of understanding of the event at the time it occurred also reported that they thought about the event less often in the intervening years and that they conceivably would have not remembered the event even if asked directly about it. Lack of understanding at the time of encoding leads to less reported memory. These observations are discussed in terms of possible mechanisms for how genuine sexual abuse experiences might be temporarily forgotten--even for extended periods--and subsequently remembered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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