Strong Similarities Between Children Currently Suffering Abuse and Adults Who Experience Repression for Child Sexual Abuse

I have compiled a list of evidence which can corroborate that a child has been sexually abused. I have added a parallel list consisting of what has been reported by adult survivors who, at one time, repressed childhood sexual abuse. Many factors can bolster the validity of a child’s accusation of sexual abuse, as well as an adult’s previously repressed memories of abuse.

  • Medical or physical evidence of abuse in a child: A child’s statement may be corroborated by medical, laboratory, scientific, or physical evidence.
  • Adult making an accusation of abuse after memories return: Most adults, who blocked abuse from their mind, have multiple physical manifestations that research has linked to child sexual assault.
  • Changes in a child’s behavior: The child might demonstrate extreme anxiety, or masturbate on being questioned about the alleged sexual abuse. The victim can develop abnormal behavior following visits with the alleged perpetrator. The child can have nightmares, become ill, and refuse to allow others to touch them.
  • Adult making accusation: They suffer anxiety, nightmares, and have problems with being touched by others. The adult might have depression, bouts of anger, and are often promiscuous. They might have PTSD symptoms, and body memories that often predate the return of memories. Adults with amnesia for abuse they suffered as a child, frequently become extremely irritable following family visits or encounters with the person whom they eventually remember as their abuser.
  • Developmentally unusual sexual knowledge: Child displays unusual knowledge of sex acts, anatomy, or sexual terminology.
  • Adult making accusation: People who had Dissociative Amnesia for sexual abuse say, that as an adult, they “instinctively” knew how to give oral sex to a man the “first time” they performed it. It was as if they just knew exactly what to do, as if they had given fellatio many times before. In addition, frequent masturbation at a young age has been reported among those who experience delayed memory.  Sometimes, the adult who has repressed memories of child sexual abuse, will experience sexual stimulation at inappropriate times, for unknown reasons, or be stimulated by rape or incest scenes in movies.
  • Play and gestures indicative of abuse: A child’s games or gestures can corroborate the child’s statement. Quotes from cases include: “The child’s non-communicative behavior, described by the psychologist as ‘sexualized,’ indicated that the child had some basis in experience for her statement.”
  • Adult making accusation: Indiscriminate sexual behavior is common among those who have been sexually abused as children.
  • More than one child with the same story: Two or more children may be exposed to the same abusive event. If the children are interviewed separately and each tells a similar story, their statements are mutually corroborative –enhancing the reliability of each.
  • Adult making accusation: More than one sibling occasionally makes an accusation of delayed abuse memories about the same perpetrator, and they describe similar experiences. Often a sibling, who has always remembered being abused, will corroborate the memories of the person reporting delayed memories. There have been a number of repressed memory cases where the adult victims, unknown to one another, make an accusation about the same person.
  • Defendant’s opportunity to carry out the abuse: The fact that the accused had the opportunity to commit the act described in a child’s statement, increases the reliability of the statement.
  • Adult making accusation: Most accused parents, siblings, baby sitters, family friends, extended relatives, and even neighbors had ample opportunity spanning over a number of years to have committed many acts of sexual abuse.
  • Substantiation with defendant’s prior uncharged misconduct: Evidence that the accused has a history of activity similar to what the child is complaining about can support the child’s assertion.
  • Adult making accusation: It is often disclosed through other family members (or by the accuser having always remembered) that the accused had a large pornographic collection or had walked around the house naked in front of the children. Some of the parents accused in repressed memories cases, violated boundaries in other areas like deliberately walking in on the child in the bathroom or while the child was dressing.
  • Character evidence: If a pertinent trait of the defendant’s character substantiates a child’s hearsay statement, evidence of character trait may be admissible in court under the issue of corroboration.
  • Adult making accusation: Many of the accused perpetrators were alcoholics and had trouble with anger. Others were physically abusive or had violent tempers. Alcoholism and physical abuse are both linked to those who commit child sexual abuse.
  • Expert testimony that child was abused: Expert testimony which corroborates the child’s statement can be used to affirm the sexual assaults.
  • Adult making accusation: Licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, therapists, and counselors have frequently determined that an adult making an accusation of sexual abuse showed signs of having been abused as a child.

Common ways that children are affected by sexual abuse:

Health problems

Unusual Fears

Withdrawal

Low Self Esteem

Eating Disorders

Suicidal Thoughts

Lack of Concentration

Irritability

Anger

Trouble Getting Along with Peers

Lack of Trust

Fear of Restrooms

Drug or Alcohol Use

Anxiety

Depression

Nightmares

Crying without provocation

Self-consciousness

Overly Compliant

Overly Defiant

Avoidance of reminders of the trauma

Regressing in age

Excessive worry about themselves dying, or loved ones dying

Insomnia

Avoiding things they used to love

Unusual triggers (A piece of food shaped like a sexual organ may set them off)

Becoming recluse

Unnecessary guilt

Psychosomatic symptoms

Spaciness

Flashbacks

Thoughts of suicide

Aggression and impulsive behavior

The previous symptoms are used to help indicate whether a child is being sexually abused. The same list can help determine if someone’s accusations of child sexual abuse are valid.

_____________________________________________________

Sources: John E.B. Myers Professor of Law.

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6 Responses to Strong Similarities Between Children Currently Suffering Abuse and Adults Who Experience Repression for Child Sexual Abuse

  1. little nel says:

    I hated surprises. For some reason “surprises” triggered an uncomfortable feeling for me.

    It was that revelation to my psychologist that alerted him to the possibility that I was sexually abused in childhood. He was the only counselor, out of many, that I had seen for my nightmares, crying spells, anxiety, anger, and other symptoms, that figured out that I was a victim of sexual abuse. He helped me to find my recovery and pointed me in the right direction to healing.

    I shudder to think what I might have done to myself or another person, if he had not caught on to my problem like he did.

    • Alethea says:

      That’s pretty interesting that your psychologist figured it out by just that. Is it because surprises take you off guard, cause you to be startled, and something “sudden” happens?

      • little nel says:

        Yes.

        I think it also might be something that I connected with being out of control of the situation. I did not use drugs or alcohol because I thought that someone could “take advantage” of me. I had a strong need to be in control and aware at all times.

        • Alethea says:

          Interesting. At age 18 (when my memory becomes relatively normal), I remember worrying that someone would spike my drink or food. It seemed more of an obsessed fear, not a valid one. I never understood it. I now sometimes wonder if I was ever drugged, or if my fear stemmed from the feeling of needing to be in control.

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