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Woman unlocks memories of childhood sex abuse after 40 years

Posted in Child Abuse on Wednesday, September 23, 2015.

When the Jerry Sandusky scandal became national news, Americans were naturally horrified and disgusted. But some who followed the Sandusky trial had far more visceral reactions, leading them to suddenly recall long-repressed memories.

Many childhood sexual abuse survivors have said that the Sandusky news coverage triggered flashbacks that had been buried since childhood.

Repression of memories is a coping mechanism common to those who have suffered trauma in childhood. But while the brain may not remember the abuse specifically, the victim may suffer the psychological effects for an entire lifetime. And in many cases, the memories come flooding back when triggered by something small and seemingly innocuous.

According to news reports, a Florida woman recently confronted a neighbor who had sexually abused her as a child. Between the ages of 6 and 12, the woman says, the man molested and raped her whenever she was left in his care.

The woman is now 46, and her memories of the abuse were completely repressed until recently. But although her memories were buried, the abuse nonetheless took a toll on her life. Like many victims, she suffered from depression and addiction. She dropped out of high school as a teenager. She even became suicidal before seeking help from a therapist.

On the advice of her therapist, the woman confronted her abuser. He did not deny the sexual abuse, and the woman has since been able to press criminal charges. This story had a resolution and some measure of justice. Sadly, far too many victims are never able to confront their abusers or hold them accountable in court.

If you were a victim of child sex abuse and have only recently unlocked the memories, please do not continue to suffer in silence. Seek the help of a mental health professional to help you cope with resurfaced trauma. Then, you may wish to speak to a compassionate victim advocacy attorney who can help you better understand your rights and legal options.