August 2nd, 2011
03:06 PM ET

Could I have been sexually abused?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by Sarah from Chicago
I am wondering if I could have been molested as a child. I have this strong feeling that I was, but I can't remember anything. When I was young, 6 or 7, I used to make my dolls have sex. At 9, I began touching myself, even though I didn't know what it meant. I am now 29 and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder last year. I know this condition often comes with a history of childhood sexual abuse. Could it be possible?

Expert answer:
Your question touches upon tricky terrain and an area of mental health that is fiercely debated.

On one side are people who believe that amnesia for childhood abuse is common and needs to be overcome through therapeutic interventions designed to "recover memories."

On the other side are people who insist that such buried memories are far rarer than are false memories induced by well-meaning, but misguided, clinicians.

Ask our expert doctors a question

As with most complex issues there is likely truth on both sides. We know that people can be abused and not remember it as adults.

This fact was disturbingly brought home a few years ago by the case of a man who had videotaped himself having sex with a young child. Do you remember the case? The video was discovered; the man disappeared and headed to the hills armed to the teeth, only to be captured eventually by law enforcement. The girl he'd abused was at the edge of her teen years and had no memory whatsoever of the abuse event.

On the other hand, I have seen many cases of people with psychiatric symptoms who recovered memories of abuse during therapy, only later to become convinced that the memories were created rather than actual.

More than one family with no clear evidence of an abusive atmosphere has been destroyed by this phenomenon.

I don't know, and I don't think anybody knows, the percentage of recovered memories of abuse that are true versus false, so I'm not able to speculate about the odds that your feelings and suggestive behaviors do in fact hide a history of abuse of which you are unaware. I can say in general, however, that the possibility you were abused increases as factors consistent with abuse also increase.

Here are a few questions relevant to potential abuse: Was anybody else in your family physically or sexually abused? Was your family environment chaotic and violent? Was drug or alcohol abuse a prominent feature of your family's life?

To the degree that these types of experiences were part of your childhood, the possibility of abuse increases to the same degree. To the degree that your early family environment was supportive, loving and peaceful, the odds of unremembered abuse go down to that degree.

Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter.

soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. FjjuZisse

    buy viagra on line http://viagraonlinejc.com/ buy viagra online usa

    March 1, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ClarkTauts

    pkf6z jhqbg q9b2

    March 1, 2021 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ClarkTauts

    bf0ay yn5jz jfla

    March 1, 2021 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Paris Desorcy

    Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.


    March 1, 2021 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Emilio Rathburn

    I truly appreciate this post. I¡¦ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thanks again


    March 4, 2021 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. ripele cbd

    what does cbd full spectrum mean


    March 9, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesis advice what is thesis writing help writing a thesis statement thesis search

    March 22, 2021 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. JvbdCrulk

    https://essaywritera.com/ – legitimate essay writing services essays writing services affordable essay writing service essay services reviews

    March 23, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. FbshEncox

    https://thesisacloud.com/ – thesis editing thesis support thesis binding service writing a thesis paragraph

    March 24, 2021 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. GrvCrulk

    https://kloviagrli.com/ – viagra song https://vigedon.com/ – what happens when you take viagra for the first time https://llecialisjaw.com/ – cialis free trial coupon https://jwcialislrt.com/ – how long does 5mg cialis last https://jecialisbn.com/ – cialis in canada

    March 24, 2021 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesis only phd umi thesis what is thesis writing thesis proposal writing

    March 25, 2021 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. LmoppEncox

    http://essaywriteris.com/ – cheap essays online essay writers for hire cheap essay writers i cant write my essay

    March 25, 2021 at 22:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. FbshEncox

    https://thesisacloud.com/ – write a good thesis thesis writing service reviews writing the thesis writing a doctoral thesis

    March 27, 2021 at 06:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. JvqqEncox

    https://dissertationahelp.com/ – writing a dissertation proposal how to write a dissertation phd dissertation writing services dissertation writing coach

    March 27, 2021 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. BrfgMile

    https://ljcialishe.com/ – cialis over the counter https://cialisvja.com/ – generic cialis prices https://viagraonlinejc.com/ – drugs like viagra https://viagratx.com/ – buy cheapest viagra https://buycialisxz.com/ – cost of cialis in canada

    March 27, 2021 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – best thesis editing services thesis help free how to write a phd thesis thesis online

    March 30, 2021 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. FbshEncox

    [url=https://thesisacloud.com/]п»їthesis[/url] thesis help thesis template phd thesis writing help

    April 1, 2021 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Trustworthy Escorts Bangalore

    I was wondering u did not mention the most sought after terminology used in all the blog commenting articles and that being dofollow. So, are these a mix of dofollow and nofollow attribute blogs or one should overlook this factor while commenting?


    April 2, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Air Hostess Escorts Bangalore

    Thanks again for sharing a wonderful list. I was wondering u did not mention the most sought after terminology used in all the blog commenting articles.


    April 5, 2021 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesiswritingtob.com thesis statistics thesiswritingtob.com master thesis writing service

    April 7, 2021 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. FbshEncox

    https://thesisacloud.com/ – thesisacloud.com thesis phd thesisacloud.com thesis statistics

    April 9, 2021 at 04:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. alprostadil storage

    ed medications injectable https://alprostadildrugs.com/ muse alprostadil suppository

    April 13, 2021 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. zithromax.com

    zithromax 500 mg tablet https://zithromaxes.com/ cytromax

    April 15, 2021 at 06:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Arlette

    um does that make sense like usually when I'm writing there's always that wall it's like okay but that's like not exactly the best way to say something so like try again and then I'll write it down right but then late at night that wall like


    April 15, 2021 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. alprostadil cream reviews

    what is alprostadil used for https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil suppository injection demonstration

    April 16, 2021 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. tadalafil 40 mg from india

    tadalafil online https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil max dose

    April 18, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.