Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse
Three interviews were broadcast on ‘The Men’s Hour’ Access Radio 810 AM by Robert Mann
The first was published in the December 1997 MENZ Issues, which is on its own page:
Recovered Memory Therapy – A Father’s Story– broadcast 13th October 1997.
The second and third interviews are below:
The Sex Abuse Industry An Overview – broadcast 10th November 1997.
False Allegations Of Sexual Abuse: A Mother’s View – broadcast 9th February 1998.
The Sex Abuse Industry – An Overview
Broadcast on ‘The Men’s Hour’ 10th November 1997.
Bob: I’d like to welcome Gordon Waugh back to our programme. Last month, Gordon gave us an insight into his experience of being falsely accused of sexual abuse, and how ACC has dealt with these cases in recent years.
Gordon: Good evening Robert and good evening listeners.
Bob: Tonight Gordon, we’d like to hear your views on the Sex Abuse Industry.
Gordon: As I told you last month, Robert, our organisation Casualties Of Sexual Allegations – COSA – has a full-time job trying to repair the damage done to individuals and families by Sex Abuse Counsellors. At their end of the spectrum, they use belief-systems, but we work from a scientific base. For example, the arguments about recovered memories, multiple personality disorder, satanic ritual abuse, the so-called Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome, and the like, are essentially ones between science and belief.
The public has a right to expect that anyone dealing with the complex and emotionally-charged topic of sexual abuse has been trained with scientific, ethical and testable material. There is no place for belief-systems in this matter.
To set the scene tonight, when I talk about "counsellors", I’m not talking about just a handful of people. ACC alone has about 1,000 "approved counsellors", but there are hundreds of others as well.
The Sex Abuse Industry has had a huge and totally negative effect on our community. It has destroyed countless individuals, and shattered thousands of families, for no good reason. And it has cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars.
What the Industry does is very much an issue of public health and safety, yet there is no compulsory training, no national examination, no registration requirement, and no regulation. Anyone can hang out a shingle and practice as a counsellor or a psychotherapist, regardless of their training or experience. And they accept no accountability for the results of their work. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Bob: You have described a very serious problem. What do you think is the driving force behind the Sex Abuse Industry?
Gordon: My personal view is that several feminist organisations are involved, and the Industry is being supported by ACC, using taxpayers funds. The main offender is a group of mainly women doctors called Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care (DSAC).
DSAC set itself up as a self-appointed expert body on sexual abuse. You would expect doctors to be very conservative and stay with mainstream medical practice, but DSAC has long since departed from that. In recent years, they have imported quite a few so-called experts here to run workshops and seminars on sexual abuse. Their visiting overseas speakers have all been avid proponents of the belief-system theories I mentioned, in one form or another.
Because DSAC members are doctors, they have a strong influence on the weaker and less educated feminist groups, such as Rape Crisis, the Auckland Help foundation, Women’s Refuge, and others. DSAC also influences politicians, the judiciary, ACC, and the police. In my opinion DSAC has badly misused its position for political purposes.
It’s common knowledge that many of the world’s most prestigious medical, psychiatric and psychological bodies, as well as the Courts, have firmly denounced all these theories as being unreliable and unscientific. That has rather left DSAC out on a limb, so now they’ve imported yet another bag of tricks in order to get men convicted of sexual abuse crimes.
Most people will know of the horror stories told by judges, coroners and the police about the shocking damage done to young girls, say 4 to 8 year olds, if they are raped. Some have needed surgery, and some have died from their injuries.
DSAC members now give evidence under Oath in sexual abuse trials that very young girls can be raped without any obvious signs. They also give evidence that hymenal tissue can repair itself without scarring. If that’s true, the Vestal Virgins will have an inexhaustible supply of new recruits!
DSAC members colour and bias their evidence, by saying that while an examination of a girl produced normal findings, those findings do not preclude the possibility that abuse occurred. They deliberately give only half the story. It is equally true that normal findings can indicate no abuse. A competent, unbiassed doctor would say that normal findings neither confirm nor deny that abuse occurred.
Bob: And because they are doctors, that must carry a lot of weight with juries?
Gordon: Exactly. The crime is that men can be convicted on that sort of evidence.
Let me give you another example, such as Rape Crisis.
One of the many exaggerations they make is that only one in ten rapes gets reported to the police, and of those, one in ten gets to court, and only one in ten are convicted. Applying those ratios to factual data tells us that NZ men commit about 150,000 rapes a year. In one report, they expanded their claims beyond rape, to include the broad category of sexual abuse. Their figures translate to about a million sexual abuse crimes every year. Good grief ! Our total population is only 3.7 million!
Bob: They certainly seem to make some extraordinary claims. Shouldn’t they be able to give proof of their figures and their theories?
Gordon: Of course they should, but they can’t. Look at it through the eyes of an accused person who has to defend himself against allegations which might be 10, 20 or even 50 years old. If those allegations arose because of the theories and methods used by counsellors, they ought to be able to clearly demonstrate the validity and accuracy of their methods.
Because we are dealing with public health and safety, and with allegations of serious crime, some sort of standard has to be applied.
Bob: That seems fair enough. What sort of standards do you mean?
Gordon: Firstly, there’s a standard for evidence. Let me put it this way. People go to counsellors because they are disturbed, and they often have distorted perceptions of reality. Historical truth and narrative truth are very different things, but because part of the belief-system is that women and children don’t lie about abuse, counsellors accept whatever the client says as being the gospel truth.
Because serious crimes are being alleged, it’s not enough to uncritically accept a narrative given by a disturbed client. There has to be a standard for the quality of that sort of evidence. That can only be derived from valid, external corroboration, to the level of "beyond reasonable doubt".
Secondly, there are standards for testing theories. A good example is the way the US Supreme Court set out its four basic tests to measure the legal standards of scientific evidence. They are similar to the ones used by other disciplines. To be admissible as evidence, a scientific theory must be:
- Capable of meeting peer review, and,
- If it involves a methodology or process, it must have a known Error Rate.
If a theory withstands that scrutiny, it can be considered reliable. The real problem is that the theories and methods used by sex abuse counsellors completely fail those tests, because they are beliefs, not science. The problem is that people believe things, without necessarily having evidence to support their views. The entire Sex Abuse Industry in built on belief, emotion and feminist ideology, and some of the wackiest theories ever to hit the Western World.
Bob: Gordon:, can you give us an insight into some of the beliefs and theories which counsellors use?
Gordon: There’s heaps of them, Robert. Like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociation, the so-called Battered Woman’s Syndrome, Past-Life Regression, Re-Birthing, and the idea that the hippocampus in abused people is smaller than in normal populations. It’s amazing ! These people believe almost everything is caused by sexual abuse.
The one most people know about is "repressed memories". Counsellors claim that children can completely banish from their conscious memory all knowledge of having been sexually abused, and with appropriate therapy years or decades later – which only counsellors can give, of course – they can recall it in pristine condition.
Belief in this sort of nonsense has been spread by self-help books, and it’s firmly entrenched in the training of counsellors. An example is a book called The Courage to Heal, by Bass and Davis. These authors acknowledge they have no academic, psychological or clinical background.
They claim that forgotten sexual abuse lies at the root of almost all adult problems, and the abuse must be remembered and re-lived for therapy to be effective. An inability to remember having been abused is taken as proof of abuse, which is being denied through a process called "repression". There’s no room in this theory for having nothing to remember.
Bob: That idea sounds like it has a few shortcomings.
Gordon: Yes. It has quite a few problems. Does it mean that a child "represses" the knowledge during the event, or immediately after ? Does repression occur after one event, or a series of events ? If it happens after each event, then it means a child could be raped today, totally repress that knowledge, and be raped again tomorrow, as if it was the first time. If it happens after a batch of events, how many events are required, and what is it that triggers the repression process?
Of course, counsellors claim that memory works like a video camera, which stores every detail. The idea is that repression causes the video tape to be archived, and it can be replayed years later in therapy, as though it’s a current event. But we know that memory only encodes a few of the details of any experience. It is a re-constructive process, which can be modified by recent information, and can be re-interpreted – a child’s memory seen through the eyes of an adult. We also know that memory retention depends heavily on rehearsal of the memorised information.
They claim that sexually abused people have "flash backs", which implies that the video-tape memory is suddenly turned on and off, indicating some sort of leakage mechanism.
The question is how it leaks out into the everyday personality to produce the "symptoms" or "indicators" of sexual abuse, which the counsellors commonly use to detect abuse.
What the theory of repression really says is that abused children have an ability to encode every aspect of an experience, and later develop total recall. If that was true, none of us would ever have an excuse for not being able to totally recall the mathematics, physics or Esperanto we learned at school ! Just go to a counsellor!
Even though the counsellors claim to have the support of a huge body of academic research, none of them has ever been able to give satisfactory answers to any of those sorts of questions. To the best of my knowledge, every study in the world literature that comes even remotely close to the essential standards of science, has failed to show any evidence that people can repress memories.
Bob: You mentioned "indicators" of abuse – what are they?
Gordon: Counsellors have developed an extensive list of behaviours which, they say, either proves that abuse occurred, or was likely to have occurred. It’s a basic type of profile-matching exercise. The list is so long and broad that it can be applied to almost the entire population of the planet.
Bob: Can you give us some examples?
Gordon: The list is pretty extensive, but a few examples are :
- promiscuity, celibacy, impotence, frigidity, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, prostitution;
- sleeping too much, sleeping too little;
- nightmares, anxiety, relationship difficulties, depression, guilt, shame, sadness, grief;
- numbness, hypervigilence, frozen emotions, low self-esteem, self hate, and so on.
Bob: So if you have any of those "indicators", you must have been abused?
Gordon: That’s the way it works.
Bob: What about Multiple Personality Disorder and Satanic Ritual Abuse?
Gordon: These are derivatives of the repression theory. One of their favourite ideas is called Multiple Personality Disorder, or MPD. We have our own home-grown expert on this topic. She teaches this rubbish on psychotherapy courses at the Auckland Institute of Technology. According to this peculiar fantasy, sexually abused people can split themselves into separate personalities. In psycho-jargon, they’re called "Alters".
As far as I know, medical records up to about the mid-1980’s, identified only about 200 or so cases of "split personalities", usually with two personalities, and very occasionally, three. Nowadays, there are hundreds of thousands of such claims. One so-called researcher estimated that about 5% of the American population has MPD. That’s about 13 million cases. The record claim for the highest number of personalities in one client is over 4,000.
MPD has even been used as a defence in criminal trials here and overseas, for theft and embezzlement, where the defendant claimed that one of her other personalities stole the money! But that defence failed. At the end of the day, MPD is no more than a social construct created by counsellors. It’s an absolute sham.
Another favourite is Satanic Ritual Abuse. It’s been taught on a number of training courses in New Zealand, and is often diagnosed by counsellors. A Registered Psychologist taught students on counselling courses at the Manukau Technical Institute, and at the Mental Health Training Service, that children are ritually impregnated by members of satanic cults, and that the babies born this way are murdered and cannibalised by cult members. She told students that the perpetrators of these dreadful crimes are usually respected members of the community, such as businessmen, church members, members of clubs, and so on.
A 1995 study, done for the National Centre on Child Abuse & Neglect in the United States, investigated about 12,000 allegations of Ritual Cult Abuse. No evidence was found to substantiate any of those claims. A similar study was done in the UK, which drew the same conclusions. In other words, claims of Satanic Ritual Abuse are in the same class as horse feathers.
It doesn’t take much effort to compare all those ideas to the standard tests used by the scientific and legal communities. None of the theories used by counsellors come within a bull’s roar of meeting those. In my opinion, counsellors who continue to apply that nonsense are no better than quacks and charlatans.
Much of the problem stems from how ACC handles the issue. Jenny Shipley, the Minister for ACC, told me in a letter a week or so ago that sexual abuse claims are treated in the same way as motor vehicle accidents. She wrote : "Just as ACC does not require a case of dangerous driving to be proven in court before accepting a claim arising from a motor vehicle accident, it does not require a court prosecution to provide assistance to an individual who has been sexually abused".
She misses the point. Vehicle accidents result in physical injuries which are readily observed, measured and treated. They may, or may not, be a result of criminal action by someone else.
With historical claims of sexual abuse, all the evidence is mental. There is no physical evidence, but every such claim is an allegation of criminal offence. These claims are based on assumed mental shock and the assumed psychological effects of sexual abuse. Mrs Shipley says that ACC only accepts claims for sexual abuse once it receives satisfactory information confirming the claimant has suffered sexual abuse.
Physical injuries can be assessed in real terms. But ACC pretends to be able to measure or assess degrees of mental shock. Unless there was a conviction or an admission of guilt, they have to rely on hearsay from the client and the counsellor. By any measure, that is hardly sufficient information confirm:ing the claimant did suffer sexual abuse.
Counsellors are trained to uncritically accept the narratives given by their clients, but in the absence of valid, external corroboration, no counsellor can ever know whether a client was in fact sxually abused. Therefore ACC cannot know whether abuse occurred, nor can it realistically assess the degree of mental shock. At best, that’s no better than guesswork.
Bob: It seems that their training is one of the main problems. Have you done anything about correcting the faults you spoke about?
Gordon: The real problem is that the training courses were set up by the counsellors themselves. They perpetuate their own belief-systems, and up until very recently, there’s been no public or professional scrutiny of what they teach. They teach rubbish, so the end product is rubbish. Because it’s all driven by feminist ideology, the students dare not question the material being taught, or they’ll fail the course as being "unsuitable" to be a counsellor.
A lot of this training is done with taxpayers money, in publicly-funded institutions, such as Polytechnics. The quality and content of the training is supposedly controlled by the NZ Qualifications Authority, and ultimately, that’s a responsibility of the Minister of Education. But NZQA doesn’t have people who are skilled enough to know whether the material being taught is valid. That’s where COSA comes in.
The Mental Health Training Service, based here at Greenlane Hospital, used to run a Sex Abuse Counselling Course. When we found out what they were teaching, quite a few people made complaints to the Minister of Health and to the Manager of the Unit. They had graduated about 200 or so people from their course. Those people had been trained on the most appalling rubbish about sexual abuse. MHTS has now been shut down.
I lodged a formal complaint with the Qualifications Authority about the training course material used on the MHTS course, and also the material used at the Manukau Tech Institute, the Auckland Institute of Technology, and other training venues. Copies of the complaint were given to the Ministers of Health and Education. NZQA is undertaking an investigation right now. It really is a very serious matter when counsellors are taught this sort of claptrap.
There’s a much greater awareness of these matters amongst professionals, the public and the politicians. So the training, examination, regulation and accountability of the counselling occupations is coming under much closer scrutiny. Things will change, and for the better.
Bob: Thanks for sharing your views, Gordon. Before we close, do you have a message for these counsellors?
Gordon: Thanks for the opportunity, Robert. I certainly do have a message for them, and its pretty blunt.
DSAC and Sex Abuse Counsellors need to wake up to the reality that they have brought an otherwise useful social service, and their personal reputations, into profound disrepute by indulging in hypocrisy and fantasy.
They need to find the courage, the honesty and the integrity to put aside their belief-systems, and begin to use the standards demanded by science, ethics and justice. They need to move quickly to regulate their training, and qualification. If they believe themselves to be professionals, they should voluntarily accept accountability for their work. If they don’t, it will be done for them, and they won’t like that.
ACC has to get real. It has to demand real evidence of abuse from the counsellors and claimants, and stop pussy-footing around with hearsay and guesswork. It has to stop pretending it knows how to measure degrees of mental shock. And it has to tell the alleged perpetrator of his involvement, and give him an opportunity to challenge the claim.
In my opinion, DSAC has forsaken medical and scientific ethics for its own political purposes. The Medical Council and the NZ Medical Association should stop it in its tracks, and demand DSAC’s return to mainstream medical practice. And defence lawyers have to challenge evidence given by DSAC in court.
And finally, the public has a right to expect that anyone dealing with the complex and emotionally-charged topic of sexual abuse will be accountable for using only those methods which can be shown to scientific, ethical, safe and effective. There is no place for shonky belief-systems in this matter.
False Allegations Of Sexual Abuse: A Mother’s View
Broadcast on ‘The Men’s Hour’ 9th February 1998
Bob: "Last year on the Men’s Hour we heard Gordon Waugh talk about his experience of False Memory Syndrome. Tonight, his wife Colleen is going to tell us how it feels from a mother’s perspective."
Colleen: "Thank you for this opportunity to speak on your programme, Robert. I realise that this is a men’s programme, but what I have to say goes hand in hand with the problems and issues that concern men today. I acknowledge that sexual abuse happens and happens far too often. But false allegations of sexual abuse also happen. Both these actions harm the accuser, the accused, their families and friends. They are despicable crimes and everything must be done to halt them.
There are always two sides to every story and I want to give you some idea of what it is like to be a woman. I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, who has chosen to stand beside her husband who was falsely accused of sexual abuse by two of our adult daughters. Since I found myself in this situation, I have spoken with many wives, mothers, and grandmothers who have had their husbands, partners or sons accused of sexually abusing a member of their family. Apart from names and places, most of their stories are almost identical. I have seen their devastation, their anger, their utter astonishment that their adult children had suddenly turned what once seemed a normal, everyday family into something out of a horror magazine."
Bob: "Since you were thrown in the deep end of this dreadful pool, you have heard many almost identical stories. Where do you think they come from?"
Colleen: "From the people who create monsters out of nothing, and turn family members against each other, and who have strong and radical feminist motives. I was recently re-reading a 10-year old article in an Australian magazine … Family – AD2000 – by Mary Helen Woods. She puts the issue very clearly when she wrote:
‘The family unit is undoubtedly the most natural and resilient form of social organisation imaginable. Because of this, the family unit threatens the radical agenda of fringe groups seeking a new society in which traditional, social and emotional ties are dismissed as dangerous anachronisms. The harbingers of this so-called progressive world have assumed a level of influence out of all proportion to both their numbers and to the substance of their argument.’
Even though that quotation is ten years old, it is a perfect description of many of today’s extremist feminist counsellors.
The adult daughters who make these allegations sought help and advice from counsellors to resolve difficulties in their lives, for example marriage break downs, career failures, or social inabilities and personal misadventures. In the hands of these so-called professionals, their problems explode into unbelievable stories of childhood sexual abuse. Where did they find this happening? In the family of course. Where else would you find an easier target? But in reality, all this has absolutely nothing to do with sexual abuse. It has to do with a belief system and a political agenda which the radical feminists want to impose on the community. They have a desire for power, control and manipulation. They want to gain monetary and political advantage for their cause.
There is nothing quite so powerful, and at the same time subjugating, as a Belief System. You only have to look back in history to understand. They want to change the world by destroying the family unit, the cornerstone of all societies. False allegations of sexual abuse fit in nicely for this purpose. I am horrified that the influence of these people has been allowed to cut right through our community, so much so, that when the words "Sexual Abuse" are used, suddenly even the law changes. There is no longer an alleged crime, instead we immediately have a victim and an perpetrator.
A centuries-old principle of British justice is a presumption of innocence. Innocent until proven guilty. This has been reflected in the 1966 International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, Article 14, Item 2. In murder and other criminal trials, the accused is deemed innocent until proven guilty. If our husbands are alleged to have committed all these dreadful sexual crimes against our daughters, then they are entitled, as are all other alleged criminals, to be innocent until proven guilty. Not so if you are accused of sexual abuse. The community has come dangerously close to accepting mere accusation as proof of guilt, and has let the standards of justice be degraded, and allowed innocent men to go to prison."
Bob: "What are some of the common threads in these allegations?"
Colleen: "The past six years have been an intense learning period. I have learned about things I never imagined I would need to know. My vision of growing old surrounded by my children and grandchildren was shattered when I came face to face with the realisation that truth, honesty, and integrity had been given different meanings.
When this happened to us, I was furious. Six years down the track I am not as angry as I was, because I now better
understand that what we are really up against, has nothing whatsoever to do with sexual abuse.
We often hear trite phrases like …….. "where there is smoke there must be fire"…… "women and children don’t lie about abuse" …."you are in denial"……"why would anyone make up these tales if they were not true"….. What they are really saying, without any evidence whatsoever is …"of course this man is guilty…"
A question I’ve often been asked is "How do you know your husband didn’t do these things?" Those who ask that question expect me to give concrete proof, positive and credible evidence of facts and figures. Nothing less will satisfy them. Yet nobody has demanded the same type of corroborated, concrete evidence from my daughters or from their counsellor.
Counsellors draw conclusions as to whether a client was sexually abused. If they actually have authority to do that, then they carry a very heavy burden of proof and accountability. They prefer to believe that if a client says she was abused, it must be true, even without corroboration. That is a clear presumption of guilt. And they want men to prove their innocence, but it is impossible to prove a negative.
If the allegations are false, the counsellor has given both the accused and the accuser an undeserved life-time sentence. It is absolutely important for counsellors to get it right. Without thorough investigation and corroborating evidence, they cannot distinguish between genuine or false allegations. Every time they get it wrong, and that is far too often, they steal resources from the genuine cases. Until they are held accountable, the damage will continue.
There is no walking away from this once the allegations have been made. Even the President of the United States has found this out. Neither the accused nor the accuser will ever be the same as they were before these allegations were made. Another frequent question is "How could you abandon your children in their time of need? " My answer is that mothers don’t normally abandon their children. But once our children come under the influence of counsellors, they choose to abandon their parents and their entire past.
From another point of view, when an adult daughter makes these allegations, there comes a time when we, the parents, have to ask ourselves why we should tolerate this sort of nonsense from our own children. A parent’s tolerance is not a bottomless well of sympathy and understanding. The fact is that daughters who say these things are attacking the integrity of their parents. That goes well beyond the limits of what we as parents, or as human beings, should be expected to endure."
Bob: What do you see as the main effects on the daughters who make these allegations?
Colleen: They make their choices based upon advice given by counsellors. They re-write their past to suit their new beliefs, and to create a new future for themselves. They are led to believe that their Family of Origin – as the counsellors call it – were monsters, so they opt for a Family of Choice, usually comprised of other women who have also been through the counselling process.
I will have no part in that. I refuse to re-write my past to conform with their new beliefs. Re-writing my past could not in any way assist my daughters to become better-adjusted people, or solve their perceived problems. My daughters, and all those other women in similar circumstances, have made their choices. Whether they understand it or not, by exercising their right to choose, they also have to accept the price that goes with that choice. It is called responsibility.
When our daughters choose to walk away, they leave behind all the records of the truth of what their past was really all about. They close the book on their youth, their growing up years, their joys and sorrows, their school and achievement records and their extended families. Because they have created a false past, they carry an enormous burden into the future. That is a corrosive burden.
What will these daughters tell their own children when they are asked who their ancestors were, or the names of their uncles, aunts and cousins? Will they describe us as the ones they really knew, or as the artificial monsters they manufactured with their counsellors? How will they explain to their children why they don’t have grandparents like most families? How will they explain why they don’t have parents or brothers or sisters? Will they be able to tell them all the family jokes — Or the old family thing of "Remember when……….?"
How will they respond when asked by one of their own children what they looked like when they were young? Most mothers would be able to pull out a photograph to show their kids, but these ones can’t. Are these daughters telling us that their true family history began on the day they walked into that counsellor’s office? These are aspects of their new lives which they won’t realise until it is too late. It is so sad, and quite unnecessary."
Bob: "Is there some comfort or hope you can give to all those wives, mothers and grandmothers, and indeed the accusing children?"
Colleen: "This is not an easy path to tread. We are mothers, these are our children. We know them much better than any counsellor ever will. Although we were not charged with a crime like our husbands/partners are, we are nonetheless penalised because we dare to stand fast to the truth. There is no simple answer as to how we should cope with this dilemma. Each one will have her own way to deal with the problems. But there are some practical things we can do. For example, we have found that many people want to keep the allegations a secret. Talking openly, and showing and sharing our love and trust with our spouse or partner, reflects our knowledge of their innocence and relieves considerable internal stress. Telling supportive family and friends can also help to ease the burden. Perhaps the most important thing to hold on to is our knowledge of our own history, and the knowledge that the terrible things we and our husbands were accused of, simply did not happen.
It is quite possible that once an accusing daughter gets out of the clutches of the counselling predators, she might begin to realise the enormity of the terrible mistake she made."