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The myth of false memory syndrome 
15th-Mar-2006 01:06 pm
Phoenix Rising
This is something I'm passionate about. "False memory syndrome" - which, by the way does *not* exist in the diagnostics manual is a tool that many use to keep abuse survivors silent or discredited.

When our memories first resurface, there is so much to take in, so much pain to relive. Our brains do their best to do damage control. Many times, this happens by creating a metaphor-memory: a memory that is historically and visually inaccurate to elicit the same *emotion* we went through in that moment.

The process is similar to movies, in a way. Just like you can see a movie, that in no way physically resembles your own life, you can find a connection, empathize - feel that same feeling. That's how those memories function. They are not *false* memories - they are memories that are 100% honest, and wrapped in a metaphorical wrapper.

People are so ignorant sometimes. They think these memories are a sign that somehow we survivors "made it up" - when the truth is that as the years pass - we get the original, accurate, gruesome memories that went with that feeling. Given time, and therapy, all those "false" memories are proven 100% true and accurate emotionally - and we finally have that key.

People use "false memory syndrome" as a shield. It helps them live in a world that is lacking in sexual predators and create a world of brains gone haywire, which for them is easier to handle.

Most people will never know how many people are sexually abused. Most people don't realize that 1 in 3 people are. Most people don't know that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused by a relative, or that 1 in 4 are sexually abused by anyone.

It's our job to raise that awareness. We don't have to shout and scream (although that is very empowering and feels great when we can!), but if all we do is teach one more person how many people are sexually abused - or hell, abused at all - we've improved the world.

Keep talking, people need to know.
15th-Mar-2006 10:26 am (UTC)
::HUGS::....THANK YOU!!!
15th-Mar-2006 10:48 am (UTC)
::big hugs:: Your post inspired me to put to 'paper' what I've been saying for a long time :)
15th-Mar-2006 10:58 am (UTC)
::HUGS::..and tears, what YOU say is very important to me and
to many, many others! I have 'total' memory recall but I would
never post it, risk hurting anyone, I am 'glad' that this was 'okay'.
::enormous bear HUG::
15th-Mar-2006 10:59 am (UTC)
you'd think that BY NOW, with all the stars and such coming forth, that abuse is a VERY real thing. i mean, if people can hardly remember what they had for dinner 2 weeks ago, do you REALLY expect them to remember every single detail of something as evil and vile (wow, an anagram!) as abuse?
15th-Mar-2006 11:07 am (UTC)
Exactly! I hate that impression that we're supposed to easily remember the horrid details of our abuse.

When I was trying to prosecute my father, the District Attorney didn't ask me what happened - he wanted to know on what day, what time, each event happened.

I looked him in the eye and said, "Can you give me the date, time, and conditions of every time you've stubbed your toe? I've been raped or beaten as many times as I've stubbed my toe - how can I remember them all?"

He got the point, even though it meant I didn't have enough "evidence" to prosecute.
15th-Mar-2006 11:13 am (UTC)
that's essentially what happened to me. the DTP (decline to prosecute) still rings in my ears...

i remember the detective asking me what i wanted to see happen to the guy. i said, "i don't care. if you've gotta lock him up for 20 years, saw of his balls with a rusty hacksaw, or give him a fine, i want to see SOMETHING happen."

it didn't, but nobody can say i didn't TRY.
21st-Mar-2006 09:45 am (UTC)
My mother took me to a psychologist when I was sexually abused by an elderly neighbour at age 11. The psychologist maintained that I had made the abuse up, imagined it, as I had an over-active sexual sphere and an underactive emotional sphere (how strange that my emotions were not healthy, given that my parents were abusing me in other ways!) and that I should put a rock over it. ! . My parents didn't prosecute, unfortunately, as he ran a kiddy tennis club so you can only imagine how many children he hurt. Anway, I just wanted to say that this is a fantastic site, informative and supportive, and kudos to you all.
21st-Mar-2006 09:55 am (UTC)
Wow... I'd like to do some really horrid things to that psychologist!

And thanks for the kudos - as someone who's survived all manner of abuse and found that the world was lacking in the support, resources, and unconditional love we survivors need - I was honored to pick up the reigns on this community when its creator left.

In banding together, in helping each other to recover and heal and feel loved, we break the silence and find the ultimate revenge on our abusers: living a life with happiness and love, and telling the world everything that was supposed to be a secret. ::hugs::
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