Can Kids Remember Childhood Sexual Abuse?

"I think she could lead a normal life," added Berrill. "She still might have to be in therapy later on if she's respondent to the abuse in the sense that she's more timid or more fearful toward men or strangers."

And for those victims of sexual assault who do appear to be well-adjusted in the years directly following the traumatic experience -- much like the Nevada mother insists her daughter is -- some psychologists say it is still possible to have a "delayed" reaction to the incident.

"Some people who are traumatized -- which depends on what happened -- can block it out and disassociate it and don't connect and don't remember the trauma," said Dr. Bob Geffner, the president of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University. "They might live a 'normal' life for who knows how long because they blocked out the trauma and then sometime later it could be triggered." Experiences including sexual relationships and scenarios involving trust and honesty, Geffner said, could all be things that may trigger a victim's memory about prior traumatic experiences.

Again, depending on the child, there are many cases where people who were assaulted at very young ages never address the assault in their adult lives, leading researchers to believe that their traumatic amnesia or repression of the memories was never disrupted by trigger events.

"There is not enough research to show that everyone [who is sexually assaulted at a young age] is affected," said Geffner. "Some people overcome and are resilient."

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