Memory Impairment For Child Sexual Abuse Linked To Mothers Who Are Indifferent To Their Child’s Suffering

While going over my documents today, I found an old research article that might be interesting to some of you.

Gail Goodman and others at the University of California at Davis performed a study on forty-six children who were between the ages of three and ten years old. The children were going through kidney and bladder dysfunction and needed a procedure done which would involve embarrassment and would be intrusive.


The children whose mothers were not really involved in the treatment, were less helpful, and who did not provide physical or verbal relief to the child after the procedure ended, experienced more memory problems regarding the experience.

The level of stress during the test did not contribute one way or another to the child’s memory of the events.

This study suggests that memory repression is compounded by mothers who are ignorant, willfully blind, indifferent, or unsympathetic to their child while the child is being sexually abused, and or, after the abuse ends and has disclosed it to their mother.


Gail S. Goodman, Jodi A. Quas, Jennifer M. Batternam-Fraunce, M.M. Riddlesberger & Jerald Kuhn, “Predictors of Accurate and Innacurate Memories of Traumtic Events Experinced in Childhood” in Kathy Pezdek & William P. Banks(eds.), The Recovered Memory/Fasle Memory Debate, (San Diego: Academic Press, 1994) pp. 3-28
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5 Responses to Memory Impairment For Child Sexual Abuse Linked To Mothers Who Are Indifferent To Their Child’s Suffering

  1. martina1973 says:

    This is so fitting to my mother. I didn’t reveal the abuse I suffered till the abuser subjected my children to a very frightening event in which they witnessed him being violent, it was at that very moment I froze with fear, fear that I may not be able to protect my children from this person. It is a very complex story, but after I contacted the authorities and revealed what had happened I was prepared to make charges in order to protect my children. This person married my sister and groomed and abused me from age 10 to 13. He was everywhere in my life, my home everywhere, I had nowhere I felt safe.
    He told me once after I threatened to tell that no one would believe me and if I did it would destroy my sister and mother. I loathed the man and because he was so trusted in the family I was paralysed as to what to do. I once tried to tell my mother by saying , mum I know something really bad about him, to which she replied, I don’t want to know.
    After I revealed what he did, my mother and my sister threatened me with their own suicides. My mother made me promise not to press charges. I honestly don’t know how I feel about my mother, I do know I fell hurt and unwanted by her. She tells me she is just protecting my sister. I try to sympathise with her because of the fact she is her daughter but the fact is they are protecting a child abuser and that is something they have to live with. I know my children are safe from him and that he can never be in any way involved in our lives, I have the police to thank for that.
    This person has everyone fooled . I had to go through this alone and there were times I just needed a mothers love and protection.
    This article is so true.
    Does anyone else feel like they have been emotionally and verbally silenced by threats of suicide from someone close to the abuser?

    • Alethea says:

      Martina, I am certain that many children and adult survivors experience threats of suicide.

      Marilyn Van derbur’s father told her, that if she had approached him in “any other way” than how she did (privately, between the two of them), he would have killed himself.

  2. Little Nel says:

    I am not surprised. Those mothers who showed no empathy gave their children the notion that that they were not pleased by the child’s distress. The mother may have related to the child that this was something painful and uncomfortable that they should forget about as it caused an unwanted inconvenience for the mother.

    I almost died from an appendicitis. My own mother was angry because it was an unwanted inconvenience for her. She had to drive to the hospital and sign papers, so that I could have medical treatment. I was ashamed of her behavior because she had to be the center of attention all the time or she was unhappy. She was so needy.

  3. melissa lee says:

    My mother fit right in there…

  4. murphy8 says:

    Fascinating! Do you have an e-copy of this you can send? I’d like to see the stats on indifferent mothers.

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