Journal of Traumatic Stress

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 649–673

Recovered memories of abuse in women with documented child sexual victimization histories

  • Linda M. Williams

DOI: 10.1007/BF02102893

Cite this article as:
Williams, L.M. J Trauma Stress (1995) 8: 649. doi:10.1007/BF02102893


This study provides evidence that some adults who claim to have recovered memories of sexual abuse recall actual events that occurred in childhood. One hundred twenty-nine women with documented histories of sexual victimization in childhood were interviewed and asked about abuse history. Seventeen years following the initial report of the abuse, 80 of the women recalled the victimization. One in 10 women (16% of those who recalled the abuse) reported that at some time in the past they had forgotten about the abuse. Those with a prior period of forgetting—the women with “recovered memories”—were younger at the time of abuse and were less likely to have received support from their mothers than the women who reported that they had always remembered their victimization. The women who had recovered memories and those who had always remembered had the same number of discrepancies when their accounts of the abuse were compared to the reports from the early 1970s.

Key words

child sexual abusememorytrauma recall

Copyright information

© International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda M. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Family Research LaboratoryUniversity of New HampshireDurham