When Crime Happens Repeatedly: Investigating Adult Memory for Repeated Stressful Events using a Domestic Violence Analogue 

Dilevski, N. (University of Sydney), Paterson, H. M. (University of Sydney), van Golde, C. (University of Sydney) 

Domestic violence is a prominent social issue in Australia that has far-reaching consequences, ranging from the negative physical and psychological outcomes faced by victims to the significant economic costs placed on society as a result of such violence. Victims of domestic violence typically experience ongoing and multiple incidents of abuse by a current or former partner. Critically, a victim’s testimony of the abuse is often a key piece of evidence during legal proceedings and can significantly influence criminal justice outcomes. Consequently, a victim’s memory of abuse plays an important role in gathering accurate and complete information about the events. This talk presents a laboratory study that examined adult memory for repeated stressful events. In the study, participants experienced either a single-event or four highly similar events over a four-week period. For each event, participants imagined a hypothetical relationship scenario that consisted of either a domestic violence encounter or a closely matched neutral relationship encounter. After being exposed to the event(s), participants returned a week later to complete a memory test of the event(s). The findings revealed that memory for repeated stressful events is poorer than a single stressful event. Findings will be discussed in light of theoretical and practical implications. 


Twitter: @natalidilevski 

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Memory Research Symposium