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Child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome

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

Roland Summit developed the theory in 1983 to describe how children resolve the experience of their abuse with the effects of the disclosure in real life. Summit posited five stages:[1]

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

CSAAS is impressionistic, rather than demonstrated by empirical research. CSAAS featured heavily in the satanic ritual abuse moral panic of the 1980s and 90s, because it purports to explain both delayed disclosures and withdrawals of false allegation of child sexual abuse. CSAAS is used to justify any statement made by a child as an indication that sexual abuse had occurred—immediate disclosure was an indication of abuse, as are delayed disclosure, withdrawal and sustained denial.[2]


  1. Summit RC (1983). The child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome. Child Abuse Negl 7 (2): 177–93.
  2. De Young, Mary (2004). The day care ritual abuse moral panic, Jefferson, N.C: McFarland.

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