Repressed Memory: What is it and Why is it Relevant to Sexual Abuse Claims?
It is common for us to consciously repress unpleasant memories. In other words, we know what happened, but we consciously chose not to think about it.
Repressed memory is the memory of a traumatic event that has been unconsciously repressed. In other words, the victim of a traumatic event has no conscious memory of the event because his or her subconscious has repressed the memory. Repressed memories can be recalled after being triggered, usually by another traumatic event.
Does Repressed Memory Really Exist?
There is mixed scientific opinion about whether repressed memory really exists. Some professionals deny the existence of repressed memories. Some are skeptical. Many respected professionals recognize that peer-reviewed studies and clinical studies continue to document the phenomenon.
So What’s the Answer?
The reality is that the validity of repressed memories may have a great deal to do with the way in which the memories were recovered. I have been representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse for almost 25 years. I have no doubt traumatic memories of something as horrifying as childhood sexual abuse can be repressed by the unconscious mind as a protection mechanism.
That is not to say that I think all repressed memories are necessarily true. But in my experience a careful examination of all the facts surrounding each particular case usually provides evidence to corroborate the accuracy of most victims’ repressed memories.
Repressed memory can play an important part in sexual abuse compensation claims because it affects when the Statute of Limitations starts to run.
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