Child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome

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Child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS) is a syndrome developed by Roland C. Summit in 1983 to describe how he believed sexually abused children responded to ongoing sexual abuse.

Roland Summit described how children try to resolve the experience of sexual abuse in relation to the effects of disclosure in real life. Summit posited five stages:[1]

  1. Secrecy
  2. Helplessness
  3. Entrapment and accommodation
  4. Delayed disclosure
  5. Retraction

According to Mary de Young, CSAAS featured heavily in the satanic ritual abuse moral panic of the 1980s and 90s, because in her view, it purports to explain both delayed disclosures and withdrawals of false allegation of child sexual abuse. De Young believes that CSAAS is used to justify any statement made by a child as an indication that sexual abuse had occurred, because immediate disclosure could be an indication of abuse, but also delayed disclosure, withdrawal and sustained denial.[2]

However, Margaret Shiu concluded in 2009: "There is empirical evidence to support both the scientific validity of CSAAS and the tendency for sexually abused children to recant their allegations of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse)."[3] "It is therefore time for courts to stop doubting the scientific validity of CSAAS."[4]