Memories called key in abuse suits - Delaware men say they repressed
recollection of priests' molestation By Beth Miller, The News Journal 4/3/07 "The
debate over how humans remember, repress and recover memories may soon reach
state courtrooms, as two men who say they were sexually abused by Catholic
priests in Delaware pursue civil suits. If not for the recovery of long-lost
memories, the lawsuits -- both alleging abuses that occurred more than 20 years
ago -- would be prohibited by Delaware's civil statute of limitations, a law
that sets a two-year deadline for filing such claims. Both plaintiffs, Eric
Eden and Douglas J. McClure, say they buried the memories of the abuses for
years, making them "inherently unknowable," a claim that can prevail over the
legal time limit. To win, the men must persuade a jury that it is possible for
such memories to be inaccessible and that, once recovered, their memories are
valid." "Children do what they must to survive the abuse, they say, even if
it means putting it out of their minds for decades, or forever. "I see that
in my young patients every day -- 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds who have just been
abused, and the abuse is validated," said Dr. Joy Silberg, coordinator of
Trauma Disorders Services for Children at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore.
"If I ask them to try to remember that, they may say, 'Don't ask me. It hurts
my brain.' ... They're working at getting it out of their head. A few weeks
later, they won't tell you. ... Your mind pushes it away until you can't access
it when you try." "But proving that memories can be false does not prove
that valid memories cannot be recovered. "There is not a single clinician who
treats torture victims, veterans, car accident victims, rape victims, child
abuse victims who has the notion that trauma does not wreak havoc with memory,"
said Dr. Bessel A. van der Kolk, a psychiatrist who is the medical director
of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Mass."
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