Trauma severity and defensive emotion-regulation reactions as predictors of forgetting childhood trauma.
Recently a heated controversy emerged regarding recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse, but the prevalence and nature of these memories as well as the relationship between a history of child abuse and childhood memory generally have received limited empirical examination. This study (N = 429 nonclinical participants) found that similar proportions of those reporting histories of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse reported that they had periods without memory for their abuse (19.8%, 11.5%, and 14.9%, respectively). These participants, however, appeared to be referring to both a lack of conscious access to their abuse memories as well as the intentional avoidance of the memories for some period. There was a great deal of variance found in the reported quality of general childhood memory, but this was unrelated to reporting a history of child abuse. In addition, it appears to be normative to recover previously forgotten childhood events, and this too was found to be unrelated to history of child abuse.