False Memories and Contested Sexual Abuse

False memory isn’t a subject you hear much about. If you haven’t heard about it, consider yourself lucky. Its impact on the individuals involved and their families can be catastrophic. Equally, the cost to the justice system is damaging.

Psychiatrist, Paul R McHugh, describes false memory as “a condition in which a person’s identity and interpersonal relationships are centred around a memory of traumatic experience which is objectively false but in which the person strongly believes.”

(British False Memory Society website)

In this episode, Kevin Felstead shares the complexities of working with false memory cases within the UK legal system. He clarifies the difference between false memory and real cases of sexual abuse. In talking about the implications of false memory, Kevin introduces listeners to the work of the British False Memory Society.

Kevin is Director of Communications at the British False Memory Society.

Further information

British False Memory Society – UK website

How False Memories Corrupt Our Identities, Politics, and Justice System – Julia Shaw, TEDxBergen

Follow Cath at Drawn to a Story

Episode information

Music by Grant McLachlan



International Domestic Violence Resource Guide 2021


Refuge – National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Victim Support – Help for domestic abuse

Citizens Advice – Help for domestic violence and abuse

NHS – Getting help for domestic violence and abuse

Al Anon – Family group support alcohol addiction, drug addiction and addictive behaviours

Samaritans – FREE Help – Tel: 116 123, E: jo@samaritans.org

NHS Depression Support Groups

NHS Mental Health Services

The British Psychology Society – Find a Psychologist


1800 Respect – National sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service

Lifeline – How to get help for domestic and family violence

White Ribbon Australia – List of helplines for domestic abuse

Beyond Blue – Mental health support

Headspace – National Youth Mental Health Foundation with support services

The Black Dog Institute – Medical health resources, services and research

SANE Australia – Counselling support, Tel: 1800 187 263 (10am – 10pm)

Alcohol and Drug Foundation – Help and Support Services


National Domestic Violence Helpline – Domestic violence support

National Institute of Mental Health – A range of helplines

American Psychologist Association – Psychologist Finder

OR contact medical/legal/law enforcement in your country.

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