I HAVE HEARD THAT SOME CHILDREN WHO DISCLOSE SEXUAL ABUSE LATER “TAKE IT BACK.” DOES THIS MEAN THEY WERE LYING?
No. In fact, attempting to “take it all back”—also known as recantation—is common among children who disclose sexual abuse. Most children who recant are telling the truth when they originally disclose, but may later have mixed feelings about their abuser and about what has happened as a result of the disclosure. Some children have been sworn to secrecy by the abuser and are trying to protect the secret by taking it back. Some children are dealing with issues of denial and are having a difficult time accepting the sexual abuse. In some families, the child is pressured to recant because the disclosure has disrupted family relationships. A delay in the prosecution of the perpetrator may also lead a child to recant in order to avoid further distressing involvement in the legal process. A very small percentage of children recant because they made a false statement.
Appears in: What to do if your child discloses sexual abuse