One of my readers, Lacee, has questioned my memories of incest and rape. I have chosen to answer her in an entire post because many people have outdated and misinformation about Dissociative Amnesia (Repressed Memories).
In brief, Dissociative Amnesia is a valid mental disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. There are hundreds of studies proving the existence of repressed memories for trauma and abuse, and it has been found that total repression happens in up to ten percent of all victims of child sexual abuse. There are also corroborated cases of repression, including, but not limited to, abuser confessions. Repression for trauma has been proven beyond any doubt and most all reputable mental health experts accept repression as a natural and understandable way to deal with the horrors of trauma and abuse.
There are no known cases of the so-called “False Memory Syndrome.” There have been people who have been mistaken about their memories and people who lie about abuse, but this does not mean that any one case of Dissociative Amnesia is also false. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation was founded by a man who feels that pedophilia is a “part of God’s will” and by a man whose daughter, a well-respected professor of psychology, accused him of sexually abusing her as a child.
I remembered what happened to me as a child over thirty years after the fact, so in answer to Lacee, no, there are no medical records. People who are sexually abusing children don’t usually take the child they are abusing to a doctor. But I do have an abundance of medical records from when I became an adult and was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms, severe Depression, thoughts of suicide, terrible insomnia, eating disorders, rage, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, abnormal fears of death, an abnormal hatred of women, nightmares, and over seventy different physical problems that $30,000 and the best medical doctors in So. Calif could not treat or cure. The only way that I healed from all that hell was by finally allowing myself to remember the incest, the death threats, and rapes. People do not heal from false memories, and they certainly don’t have all of those symptoms if NOTHING happened to them.
Yes Lacee, I do have some corroboration from family members but most of the cases of repressed memories of sexual abuse, having been recalled when the person is an adult, involve events that took place decades earlier. There are usually no records to corroborate the abuse, and most children who are being sexually abused -even when there is vaginal penetration- do not show physical signs of abuse.
One of the common factors in cases of repression for incest, is a family that shielded the incest and a family that retains a strong denial system. This means that when an adult survivor finds the strength to remember and speak about what happened to them, they are often up against family members who remain in denial and do not want the ugly topic of incest brought up, and who prefer the secrets to remain hidden. The family members often defend the perpetrator out of love and a dysfunctional bond with him or her.
Lacee mentioned in one of her comments that maybe Elizabeth Smart has blocked out her ordeal. If Elizabeth Smart was truly raped and traumatized, she might have blocked out some of her experience but she does not fit the profile of someone who experiences total repression for trauma, nor has she indicated that she has blocked out anything.
For further information, readers can check out some of my links at the right of the main page under “Educational and Informative Links” and my FAQ page. People might also read “My Story” at the links section to the right of the main page.