Psychological Assessment of Child Sexual Abuse

A claim of child sexual abuse is very serious, and one of the allegations sometimes alleged in acrimonious custody battles. Although some of the accusations are true, some of such charges may have resulted from misunderstandings, unintentionally planted false memories, or downright fabrications from the alleged victims or their parents.

Due to the magnitude of the potential outcomes the victims and/or the wrongfully accused might face, clinical psychologists involved in forensic assessment of child sexual abuse allegations must exercise extreme cautions. These clinical psychologists have to be well trained and experienced in interviewing and evaluating children, and to be familiar with the research literature on the assessment of true sexual abuse versus false/implanted memories.

Dr. Grace Graham, psychologist, says, “They are to balance their desire to protect the best interest of the children involved; as well as, to not wrongfully implicate others involved so as not to violate the civil rights of those who might have been wrongfully accused.”

For children who might have been abused, the evaluation process, though uncomfortable to endure, could lead to their protection, healing, and possible vindication, if the assailant is known, captured, and held accountable. However, if the allegations are false, a properly conducted assessment might prevent the wrongfully accused from being erroneously deprived of their civil rights (e.g., ranging from being denied their freedom to parent their children to defamation and jail sentences).

About the Author

Dr. Grace Graham is a licensed psychologist who possesses extensive experience in the clinical assessment of abuse victims.