COSA Casualties of Sexual Allegations Newsletter October 1996: Volume 3 No 9
Contents of this page:
Editorial: Special Issue on Education
Visit by Bessel van der Kolk On the 12 September I attended a one-day seminar given by Professor van der Kolk, an American psychiatrist brought out to NZ by DSAC. Prof. van der Kolk is an ardent supporter of the recovered memory movement.
Mental Health Training Service "Certificate in Sexual Abuse Counselling Theory – Approaches to practice" course, Greenlane Hospital.
Educating Doctors The NZ Family Physician offers a journal review service for General Practitioners, commenting briefly on a number of key articles, which GPs can then send off for if they are interested. I recently accessed 2 papers about sexual abuse, which had been favourably reviewed.
Teaching by Rape Crisis workers in schools What is particularly alarming about the case study outlined in this issue is that one of the complainants, whose allegations were not sustained by the court, is now in the position of educating school children in her region about sexual abuse issues.
Public education Following the screening of the BBC documentary "False Memories" early this month, COSA received 53 calls from distressed families. TVNZ however has received a complaint about the screening of the documentary from Dr John Read, Co-ordinator of the Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology, Auckland University.
Men, Women & Sex Conference Family Planning Queensland. My paper at this conference (‘The Politics of Sexual Abuse’) was received very well, attracted newspaper coverage and resulted in my being interviewed for the ABC TV network.
Editorial – Special Issue on Education
One of COSA’s main aims is to foster and promote sound and reliable knowledge concerning sexual abuse, and to speak out against the spread of misinformation based on beliefs which are not supported by current scientific understanding. This month’s issue focuses on some issues involving education and the dissemination of information. It also includes a detailed case history of a family recently embroiled in historical sexual abuse allegations.
Teaching to professionals
Visit by Bessel van der Kolk
On the 12 September I attended a one-day seminar given by Professor Bessel van der Kolk, an American psychiatrist brought out to NZ by DSAC. Prof. van der Kolk is an ardent supporter of the recovered memory movement and recently persuaded a US judge that memory repression and recovery is accepted as a valid theory by American professionals. He spoke to a full house of 240, mostly psychotherapists and psychologists, and presumably had a similar audience the following day in Wellington.
Much valid scientific material was presented, although often in a very superficial manner. A great deal of what van der Kolk had to say about treating victims of traumatic events (including wars, motor vehicle accidents and assaults) was sensible and practical. He acknowledged that memories may be fragmentary and not completely accurate. However he also made a number of very alarming claims and his interpretation of the meaning of research findings was often based on unverified assumptions and even huge leaps of faith.
He claimed that the concept of repression or amnesia for childhood trauma (especially sexual abuse) "is no longer in question: it is scientifically accepted". He also said that trauma memories are stored in the brain differently from other memories, and unlike normal memory, are not subject to processes of distortion and decay but remain as pristine memories until "recovered". He said that the issue of false memories is his "least favourite subject" and implied that these virtually never happen. He also implied that it is not possible to implant a false memory for an event.
He claimed that child sexual abuse causes a number of physical and psychological conditions, including asthma, headaches, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, borderline and multiple personality disorders. The message was to consider the possibility of sexual abuse whenever treating patients with these and a number of other conditions. Van der Kolk’s decision as to whether his patients have been sexually abused as children includes his interpretation of patients’ own drawings and what they describe when looking at the Rorschach inkspot. Whilst he believes that patients cannot get better and "have a life" until they have uncovered and worked through their traumas, he warned not to push people into recovering memories before they are ready, and said he has members of his therapy groups who had never disclosed their traumas, although he knew that they must be victims of incest.
He also promoted the technique EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) which he claims can be used to process the trauma. This is effectively a hypnotic technique, which in fact might be very effective in desensitising patients to intrusive memories, but if used to "recover" the memories, is potentially very dangerous.
Van der Kolk described how increased excitement and arousal (up to a point) can increase the memoriability of an event. He explained that his audience were more likely to remember this seminar if he modulated his voice, was animated in his presentation, and included humour, than if he stood still and spoke in a monotonous tone. Then he said people would be particularly likely to remember the event if a member of the FMS Foundation came to the meeting, threw a bomb at him and killed him in front of the audience. This was his only reference to the FMS Foundation, and whilst he was not making an overt allegation, there was the implicit insinuation that the FMS Foundation was the sort of organisation that would engage in such an extremely violent criminal act. In fact, of course, this is just about as far from the truth as it is possible to get. Members of the FMS Foundation Professional Advisory Board are eminent clinicians and academics committed to the dissemination of accurate scientific information and the well-being of patients. They are certainly not in the business of inflicting murder and mayhem! This is an example of a covert suggestion which people might incorporate into their belief system (eg that FMSF people are violent psychopaths) which is very similar to the type of suggestion a clinician might make to clients (eg that their symptoms indicate that despite their memories of a happy childhood, they were victims of incest).
Van der Kolk made it clear that he was talking about clinical practice not science. He said he was "preaching to the converted" and asked who should be believed – 500 patients giving trauma histories or a researcher in a back room?
The most concerning aspect however was that there was no opportunity for the audience to be exposed to any challenge of what he had to say. He gave 4 lectures, all of which went on right until the breaks with no time for questions or comments. I am alarmed that a large number of therapists would have left that meeting believing that the theory of repression is scientifically proven, with no discussion as to the potential problems of patients recovering false memories.
Mental Health Training Service
"Certificate in Sexual Abuse Counselling Theory – Approaches to practice" course, Greenlane Hospital
On a more positive note, this semester’s class is about to start and I have reason to believe that this course has been considerably reviewed and improved, largely as a result of concerns expressed by COSA members. I have yet to see the course material, but we are hopeful that their teaching will be more scientifically based.
The NZ Family Physician offers a journal review service for General Practitioners, commenting briefly on a number of key articles, which GPs can then send off for if they are interested. I recently accessed 2 papers about sexual abuse, which had been favourably reviewed (‘Adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse: do I have them in my practice?’, Mammen & Olsen, Australian Family Physician, Apr 1996, 25 (4) 518-520 and ‘Assisting sexually abused adults: a practical guide to interviewing patients’, Leach & Bethune, Canadian Family Physician Jan 1996, 42, 82-86). Both these papers exaggerate the frequency of sexual abuse (eg "one in three girls"); instruct GPs to always be on the lookout for sexual abuse; to encourage disclosure and assist to their patients in understanding their current problems as being the result of their childhood victimisation. One paper lists a number of sexual abuse "sequelae" including asthma, irritable bowel syndrome; pelvic pain; bladder problems; anxiety; depression; eating disorders and on and on (scientific studies have never established a causal relationship between CSA and any of these conditions). One paper explains how memories may "return after a latent period, sometimes of many years" and the importance of making sure the patient feels believed is stressed. No warning is given that this approach might inadvertently assist in the creation or the endorsement of a false belief by a patient that she was a victim of childhood sexual abuse.
Teaching in schools
Teaching by Rape Crisis workers
What is particularly alarming about the case study outlined later in this issue is that one of the complainants, whose allegations were not sustained by the court, is now in the position of educating school children in her region about sexual abuse issues. With no formal counselling credentials, her only qualification appears to be her allegations that both she and her children are past victims of sexual abuse. As a senior member of her local Rape Crisis, she is currently going into her local schools, teaching students about sexual abuse and inviting them to contact her should they have had sexual experiences they wish to disclose. It is highly unlikely that the principals of these schools are aware of her background and her qualifications, or lack of them, to instruct in this field.
Health is the only compulsory subject in the High School curriculum. It is also of low status amongst teachers. Principals and teachers alike are pleased and relieved when outside agencies offer their services to instruct in this field. Many of the topics covered under this broad subject are dealt with sensibly and practically. For example, health includes subjects such as safety skills on the road; good nutrition and life-style choices such as alcohol and tobacco use. However, using outside instructors opens the way for students to be exposed to misinformation and indoctrination of the belief system of the agency or individual who is giving the course. I suspect that many parents would be horrified to discover what their children are being taught in some of these sessions.
Secondary School Health Educators
I did not wish to imply that all Health Educators in schools are completely untrained. Some training is available, but this is not necessarily reassuring. I have recently been given a training manual entitled "Sexual Abuse and the Role of Health Education" which was given out to Secondary School Health Educators at a Professional Development Day held at the Auckland College of Education in 1993. This document reinforces the message that the most important thing to do is believe the child whenever an allegation of sexual abuse is made. It contains a list of "Indictors of Sexual Abuse" of young people aged 13 and up which includes: not being allowed to go out on dates; have chronic ailments such as stomach aches and headaches; be fearful of undressing for gym; have unexplained sums of money; be anorexic or use drugs and alcohol to excess.
Health educators are advised to set up support groups for girls who claim to have been sexually abused. The students should be taught about sexual harassment and then told there is another issue "which is usually kept secret and which about Ã‚Â¼ of the class will have experienced". The aims of the group, times and place should be discussed then "just sit back and see if… you get up to 2 of the girls you have talked to". Groups should be run during class time so that the girls do not miss any leisure time.
‘Hey Sisters – your sexuality’ booklet
This booklet, published by the YWCA with the assistance of the Public Health Commission, is a sex education resource given to girls in secondary schools. Whilst much of the information it contains is accurate and practical, some of the material is very concerning. It uses a very broad definition of the term "sexual abuse" ("any unwanted sexual contact") and the only book listed as good to read on the topic is "The Courage to Heal". I personally also had concerns that rather than just not discriminating against lesbian or bisexual orientations, these options are actively promoted There is no recognition that only a very small minority of the population identify as homosexual (about 1 to 2% of women).
False allegations by school children
It is becoming increasingly common for school-aged children to make sexual allegations which are demonstrated to be false by police. For example, last month in Tauranga alone, police dealt with 3 false sexual allegations by young girls (Taranaki Daily News, 26 Aug 1996):
- An 8 year old alleged that she had been approached in an alleyway by a man holding a doll and he had tried to get her into his car. She described her attacker in detail and the police treated it as a genuine crime until it became blatantly obvious that their time was being wasted.
- A 12 year old claimed a man had grabbed her through a bedroom window; that she had struggled and escaped to a neighbour’s place, but there was no evidence to corroborate her story.
- A 13 year old claimed she had been raped and the case was investigated until it was apparent that her story did not hold up.
This month the Court of Appeal also reversed a jury’s guilty verdict of a 16 year old girl who claimed rape, because the evidence did not support the allegation (Dominion, 3 Sep 96). Similar cases of young girls making fraudulent claims have been reported in earlier COSA newsletters. COSA only gets to hear of such occurrences if members send us their local newspaper clippings, so it is probable that there are many we do not know of. If this sort of problem is occurring through-out NZ, a significant amount of police time will be being wasted, as well as the other problems such accusations might cause.
We can only hypothesise, but it is certainly likely that "sexual abuse prevention" programmes in schools are giving children both the knowledge and the encouragement to report, and hence contribute to the rising number of false allegations of this nature. These programmes and their potential pitfalls will be covered in a future issue of COSA.
Following the screening of the BBC documentary "False Memories" early this month, COSA received 53 calls from distressed families. Many of these people are extremely thankful that our organisation exists and to know they are not alone with this terrible problem We are grateful to TVNZ for publicising our contact details following the programme.
TVNZ however has received a complaint about the screening of the documentary from Dr John Read, Co-ordinator of the Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology, Auckland University. Dr Read accused TVNZ of being irresponsible in showing this programme on television. He claimed that screening such a documentary implied that the problem of false memories is "something much more common than the tiny minority of cases they actually represent" and since 32% of girls under 16 are sexually abused, viewing such a programme could make it difficult for them to have faith that anyone will believe they are telling the truth, and that they might now "keep their memories hidden.., perhaps for the rest of their lives, for fear that no-one will believe them".
Dr Read also attacked TVNZ for giving COSA’s details at the end of the programme. He made a number of personal attacks about me, including some erroneous and defamatory information. He asked of the programmer "Did you consider the possibility that paedophiles may take heart from the programme, ring this number, at the recommendation of TVNZ, and receive support for their claim that they have been falsely accused?". He ended with a request for a full apology from TVNZ including a statement that the incidence of false allegations in NZ is not widespread.
The main issue this action raises is again that of suppression of information, a practice which is sadly prevalent in our learning institutions. The free and open dissemination of information, especially in such a controversial area as sexual abuse of children, is of vital importance. I believe that TVNZ and other media should be free to supply the public with such information without censorship. As a scientist, I am committed to the principles of freedom of speech and academic debate rather than the suppressing of information that does not conform to one’s world view.
As Co-ordinator of the Clinical Psychology programme, Dr Read is responsible for the training of clinical psychologists. It is of grave concern if he is teaching his students that false allegations rarely if ever happen; that they should believe their clients stories without question; and that they should not read or watch material which challenges his viewpoint. This is indoctrination, not education.
Victor and Yvonne – Case history
Names and details of case histories are changed to avoid identification of those involved. Please contact the Editor if you would like to have your case presented.
Victor and Yvonne, a couple in their 60s, brought up their family in New Zealand but moved overseas in 1980. They have 9 adult children, 5 girls and 4 boys, aged between 23 and 42 years old.
In late 1980 their 5th daughter, Katherine, moved overseas with her husband Clive and their children. For some time they lived with Victor and Yvonne and when they got a place of their own, they remained in regular contact. In 1988 they again all shared a house for 2 years, and then the families lived next door to each other until September 1992. Victor was very close with his grandchildren and there were never any allegations of abuse throughout that period. In February 1992 Katherine separated from Clive and in September that year she returned to New Zealand, a solo mother with 5 children and pregnant with her 6th.
Following her return, Katherine made allegations through the New Zealand Police that her ex-husband Clive had sexually abused their children. She took her children to a local psychology centre for assessment and counselling. In December 1992 the Director of the Centre, Freda, wrote a report about 5 of the children (the youngest, Jane, was only 5 weeks old), whom she said had disclosed to their mother sexual abuse by their father. 3 year old Larry claimed his father had tied him up in the shed and put his penis in his mouth. He also claimed that his father had tied up his 6 year old sister Nola and done something involving the use of Vaseline on her bottom. Nola claimed this had not happened to her but she had seen it happen to Larry. She claimed 4 incidents of abuse to herself including her father putting his penis into her mouth and into her vagina. She demonstrated these activities with anatomically correct dolls. 5 year old Tanya claimed she had been made to suck her father’s penis and other indecencies "heaps of times". 11 year old Simon was interviewed by Freda twice, but he said he had never been sexually abused by his father or anyone else, and had no knowledge of the alleged abuse happening to his younger brother and sisters. Freda did not interview 2 year old Ken, but watched him at play. Freda described all the children as showing signs of stress, which she believed were indicators of sexual abuse. She gave the opinion that all the events described by the children were true. The police were contacted overseas, the case investigated, but the police decided that the charges were unfounded.
Between December 1992 and March 1993 Victor and Yvonne visited New Zealand and stayed with Katherine in her home. Katherine had had a close relationship with her parents and until March 1993, she had been writing to her parents with letters ending with endearments such as "Love you both very, very much. God bless always", and "Take care – love you both HEAPS". About this time Katherine started to attend counselling for herself, and visited the local Rape Crisis Centre.
In 1993, Katherine formed a de facto relationship with Douglas, and was soon pregnant to him. Douglas was the former husband of her younger sister, Elizabeth, with whom he had had 2 children. Victor and Yvonne were involved in selling Katherine’s house overseas (which was the property next to their own). Katherine used the proceeds to buy a house with Douglas. Victor did not approve either of the new property, or of Yvonne’s choice of new partner, and voiced his disapproval. This was the beginning of a "falling out" between Katherine and her father.
Victor and Yvonne’s 4th child Gwen is 3 years older than Katherine. Gwen has a very troubled history. She had married Harry and had 4 children. In 1981 Harry, Gwen and family visited Victor and Yvonne at their home overseas and later lived with them for a year. Between September an1983 and August 1984 the two families were neighbours, and from September 1986 until October 1987 Gwen again moved in with her family to live with her parents. Gwen, Harry and children moved back to New Zealand, and in late 1988 while on holiday in New Zealand, Victor and Yvonne stayed with them for 2 weeks. At no time had Gwen ever made any allegations against her father that he had ever sexually or physically abused either her or her children.
In 1988 Gwen was diagnosed as suffering from delusional beliefs. She began to develop progressively more bizarre behaviour, and in 1989 was admitted to hospital for psychiatric care. Harry tried to cope with looking after a mentally disturbed wife as well as four young children and maintain a full-time job, but in late 1989 Gwen and Harry separated. Since that time they have had ongoing court proceedings regarding the custody of their 4 children. In 1990 they attempted to share the care of their children week and week about in Harry’s home. Harry would move in with relatives when Gwen had the children, and she would live at the psychiatric ward of the local hospital during her weeks off. Harry was awarded interim custody by the court in January 1991.
Gwen’s mental illness continued and she required further periods of hospitalisation for unpredictable and bizarre patterns of behaviour. In 1992 Gwen robbed a bank in protest against a decision by DSW to terminate her benefit. She was convicted and spent some time in prison. During this year Gwen filed for custody of the children, claiming that Harry was neglecting them and alleging he spent all day drinking in the pub. No substantiation was found of her allegations and her application for custody was dismissed.
In 1993, at Gwen’s instigation, Children and Young Person’s Service (CYPS, previously known as DSW) applied to give custody of the children to the Director-General of Social Welfare. In the middle of 1993 Victor and Yvonne were contacted by the Department of Social Welfare to travel to NZ and attend a family group conference regarding the custody of the children. They declined the invitation as they did not want to become embroiled in the dispute between Gwen and Harry. One of their sons also rang CYPS and told the social workers that he did not believe that Gwen was fit to have custody of her children. It appears that Gwen wrongly assumed that it had been her father who had said this. Gwen rang her father in anger after the conference and since then has been very ill-disposed towards him. Prior to that she had kept in friendly contact with her parents. Harry was given custody of the children, with Gwen to have supervised access.
In late 1994 Gwen wrote to her sister Katherine that she had had a lot of counselling and that their father Victor "is an abuser, I know this". In January 1995 Gwen visited Katherine and told her that their father used to rape her. Gwen also rang her mother overseas and told her about the allegations.
In February 1995 Victor and Yvonne came to New Zealand for a holiday and stayed with one of their unmarried sons, Andrew. In March, 2 of Katherine’s daughters, Nola aged 9 and Mary aged 8, stayed with their grandparents and their uncle for several days. During that that month, Victor was told that both Katherine and Gwen were claiming that he had sexually abused them as children. Victor adamantly denied these allegations. He went to the local police station to report that his daughters were making these allegations and that he wanted the matter investigated.
In April 1995, Gwen made a statement to the police about her father’s alleged abuse during her childhood. She said that she had suffered violent sexual and physical abuse from about the age of 3 until she was 14 years old. She said that a lot of her memories had been suppressed at the time because the abuse was so horrific, but she had been seeing a counsellor who had helped he bring out and talk about her memories. She said that when she was sexually abused she would "try to escape what was happening to me and I used to escape into a black spot in my mind". She claimed incidents included his forcing her hand into a mincer and cutting off the top of her thumb; burning her hand on the stove element; making her eat her own vomit; and regular beatings with belts, sticks and the jug cord, sometimes injuring her so badly that she could not walk at all for a couple of days. She said that her mother knew about the attacks and told her not to tell anyone or the family would get into trouble. Gwen also described regular sexual assaults including having objects inserted in her vagina and anus and violent rape when she was 7 years old.
In May, Katherine also made a statement to the police claiming that Victor had indecently assaulted her and sodomised her between the years of 1964 and 1974 (from ages 4 to 14 years). The assaults were said to take place in her bed at night, in a room where 2 of her sisters and a bother also slept. She also described considerable physical violence on a regular basis. Katherine had never disclosed any sexual abuse by her father until she had been told by Gwen what was supposed to have happened to her.
Katherine furthermore claimed that some of her own children were now claiming that Victor had abused them as well. The children were said to be displaying "indicators of abuse". Ken aged 4, was said to be describing a game involving Victor’s penis and also claimed he had seen his 2 year old sister Jane "ride" on Victor’s penis. 8 year old Mary was talking about sexual abuse but had not "openly disclosed an actual incident" but it was again Nola, now aged 9, who was giving specific details of being abused. Nola underwent a videotape evidential interview. When asked about how she felt about he grandfather, she said "He’s nice". However under direct questioning she claims that he "put his hands on my pants" but then says this was her father. Later she says that her grandfather "pulled my pants down and he touched me. Mum says its called sexual abuse". This incident was supposed to have happened when she was 6, in December 1992.
In May 1995 Victor was charged with 10 charges of rape, sodomy and indecent assault against 2 daughters and a grand-daughter. His passport was seized and he was released on bail. This meant that he and Yvonne could not return home and had to remain in New Zealand, having to report to the local police station regularly and living with their son Andrew,. Yvonne, Andrew and other brothers and sisters of Katherine and Gwen all stated that they knew these things could never have happened, and that they had not been party to or the victims of the sort of regular attacks that were claimed. A woman who had lived with the family in the 1960s when she had become pregnant as a teenager, said that she had never witnessed any of this sort of abuse and that Victor had been a very cheerful loving dad to his children. Other family friends similarly wrote that these allegations were completely out of character with the man they knew and respected.
Gwen was also continuing her battle with Harry over custody of their children. In September 1995 her 12 year old son Ivan told CYPS social workers that his father was neglecting him, providing inadequate meals and physically beating him. He said he was sleeping with an air gun (given to him by Gwen) under his pillow "for protection". Ivan also spoke of incidents in which his mother had been raped by family members. Gwen filed for custody of Ivan and the case was heard in February 1996. She was then living in a house-truck at a beach-side caravan park with her boyfriend. Social Welfare had conducted thorough investigations into conditions in the father’s home and again found the allegations to be without any substance. The judge commented that Gwen "was immovably fixed in her belief that the father had ill-treated and neglected the children and that he continued to do so". Despite the fact that a psychiatrist and 2 psychologists recommended that Gwen be given custody of Ivan, the judge rightly noted that these professionals had appeared to overlook her continuing mental illness, her unpredictable behaviours and her living conditions, which all indicated that she would not be able to adequately look after him. The judge was of the opinion that Gwen had "formed an alliance, in league with [Ivan], in her continuing efforts to support her conviction that the father was and is an unfit parent. … The difficulty is that her idea about what is best for [Ivan] is irretrievably infected by her world of false reality, and what I am satisfied is (at best) an unreliable recollection of past events and a view of the father’s parenting abilities which is unsupported by the results of painstaking independent inquiry". The judge emphasised that there was no possibility of Gwen gaining custody of any of the children, and that he wanted serious restrictions on her access to them. Harry retained custody of the remaining three children, and with his agreement, Ivan was made a Ward of the State and recommendation was made for him to be placed in a "neutral and secure environment".
The following month, at the end of March 1996, Victor was acquitted by a District Court judge without having to stand trial. The judge referred to the Family Court judgement involving Gwen which had taken place in February. He expressed concerns that Gwen’s history made him gravely concerned about her "reliability as a witness and the inability demonstrated to the Court to distinguish between real and unreal", and noted that "there is no independent corroboration of any of the allegations". The judge also noted that the date Nola claimed her grandfather had abused her (December 1992) correlated closely with the time when she had first made her claims of sexual abuse by her father to the psychologist, and furthermore there were grave inconsistencies in the children’s testimony at that time. For example, while making other complaints against her father, Nola denied activities that her brother said he had seen her participating in. Subsequent investigations had not supported the allegations and the father had not been charged with these alleged offences. The judge also commented on the fact that Katherine was corresponding lovingly with her parents until shortly before she made the allegations, which is clearly not consistent with someone who has suffered such horrendous ongoing abuse.
Victor and Yvonne have now returned to their home overseas. Whilst relieved that the court proceedings are over, it has not been a time of celebration for them. A
holiday visiting family in New Zealand had turned into an eleven month nightmare for them. Although Victor has retained his freedom, the shattered family bonds are very painful to them both. Both Barbara and Gwen, together with their families, had spent considerable time living with or along side their parents, and Victor and Yvonne grieve the loss of children and grandchildren with whom they used to have close loving relationships. Once the acute stress was passed, Yvonne became depressed and ill for some time, but they are now both getting on with their lives and maintain good friendships with the children who have stood by them.
Katherine is now a senior member of her local Rape Crisis. As discussed in the Editorial, she is involved in instructing school children about sexual abuse issues and encouraging them to disclose abuse to her. Because the courts ordered name suppression for both defendants and complainants in this case, it is difficult for the authorities involved to be informed about this state of affairs.
Newsletters received by COSA
Canadian FMS Support Groups Newsletter Special Edition Sep 1996 3 (8)
This newsletter calls for action from its members to help fight the rescinding of a bill which will make it even more difficult for those defending sexual allegations to have access to complainants’ therapy records. Since a number of adult women making allegations in Canada have only "recovered" the memories during therapy, it becomes increasingly difficult for the innocent to defend themselves.
Men, Women & Sex Conference
Family Planning, Queensland 13 – 15 Sep 1996 Brisbane Australia
My paper at this conference (‘The Politics of Sexual Abuse’) was received very well, attracted newspaper coverage and resulted in my being interviewed for the ABC TV network. Judging from some of the course participants I met, both Sydney and Brisbane Family Planning Associations seem to have either avoided the excesses of political correctness most such organisations have been subjected to, or are out the other side. There was a light-hearted and healthy approach to sexuality and a marked reduction in the angry bitter "anti-male" element which has so deeply troubled me over the past decade. Let’s hope that New Zealand is following close behind!
International Congress on Stress and Health
5 – 8 Oct 1996, Sydney, Australia
Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith will be presenting the findings of the NZ family survey of recovered memory cases at this conference.