chapter  Chapter 1
What is childhood sexual abuse?
WithLis Garratt, Mavis Kirkham
Pages 7

Before embarking on a book examining the impact of childhood sexual abuse on birth it would be useful to discuss various definitions of it and look at the frequency with which it occurs. It is only relatively recently that CSA has been recognised as a widespread problem affecting many individuals regardless of race, social class or culture. Obviously, it is not a new phenomenon, and in the late 19th century Sigmund Freud published a paper in which he linked ‘hysteria’ with early childhood sexual experiences. This arose out of his clinical practice and observations of his female patients. However, only one year later he reinterpreted his findings, stating that these reported scenarios of seduction were merely sexual fantasies, which had never actually taken place. Tragically, because the work of Freud was so widely respected, the existence of CSA was consequently dismissed for a large part of the 20th century.