The need to address the long-term effects of child abuse and interpersonal violence by NIH (National Institutes of Health) is critical for the wellbeing of a large percentage of Americans. About 10 years ago, just such a request was made in the April 22, 2005 issue of the journal Science by Jennifer Freyd who is the editor of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. She called for the creation of a new National Institute on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence – but her call for this Institute was ignored.
The Science article cites the body of research to date which shows:
- Child sexual abuse is associated with serious mental and physical problems, substance abuse, victimization and criminality in adulthood;
- Under-reporting (including memory failure) leads to underestimation of the extent of abuse, which currently is reported by 20% of women and 5-10% of men worldwide;
- Although official reports of childhood sexual abuse has declined somewhat in the U.S. during the last 15 years, close to 90% of sexual abuse cases are never reported to authorities;
- Most child sexual abuse is committed by family members and individuals close to the child, which increases the likelihood of delayed disclosure and possible memory failure while increasing the potential for unsupportive reactions by caregivers and a lack of intervention;
- A number of factors undermine the credibility of abuse reports, despite evidence that when adults recall abuse, the truth of their memories is not correlated with when they regained awareness of a past incident; and
- Cognitive and neurological mechanisms that may underlie the forgetting of abuse have been scientifically identified.
In NIH’s new strategic plan (2011-2015)