I have been following with great passion the Ford sexual assault case this past week and really, it has broken my heart on so many levels.
I could address the million and one things in that case which support why and what I think but I am not going to do that here. Everyone is entitled to choose what they believe, that is your right as long as you do not put it in a nasty and cruel way and aim direct hate at someone for it. The thing is though, one point really, really peeved me off to the max and was repeated continuously by not only people on social media, but prominent people in government.
Ford’s memory recall.
Accusing her of lying because she could not place details of the assault after 36 years. I most commonly saw the remark ‘you would never forget that.’
I am here to tell you that you are wrong.
I am someone who has attracted victims and survivors of abuse my whole life. I have my own stories and I am somewhat of an advocate among my readers. I write about the effects of abuse in my whole entire series and my inbox and groups are a safe place for my female readers to talk it out and support one another. I encourage women to not live in shame and silence and they trust me enough to tell me their stories. 70% of these women have never reported or told anyone of these things until they met me.
Even just Rose has abuse aspects.
Because it is something I know about, am passionate about and the amount of people drawn to me who trust me enough to divulge their secrets only widens my experience too. I have lived through so many things that never show on my outward persona. I have a passion to make a difference and stop future generations of our daughters from suffering the same way we have.
I understand from the other side when I see things like this go public.
I am not here to debate the statistics on false claims against real, but i can assure you that it’s so minuscule a percentage that you only harm genuine victims by repeating that. You are doing a huge disservice to the many victims of assault out there who are in fear of speaking out. Stop doing that.
Okay, back to the point. Here’s the memory thing – buckle up , it might get rough.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal involving the occurrence or threat of physical harm. It is one of the most severe and well-known of the different types of psychological trauma, mostly due to its prevalence in war veterans. It can manifest itself as early as after the first year of life. The stress of PTSD can have severe effects on the hippocampus, causing problems with transferring short-term to long-term memory. There is no one way that patients’ memories are affected by PTSD, as shown by a variety of studies. Typically symptoms include avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event or mention thereof, irritability, trouble sleeping, emotional numbness and exaggerated reactions to surprises. One of the most common and powerful symptoms, is the recurrence of random intense memories from the event (intrusive thoughts). This can manifest itself in different ways such as flashbacks of the event and unwanted thoughts about the trauma (e.g. “why did this happen to me?”). PTSD patients who have gone through different traumatic experiences will have small variances in their symptoms, mostly insignificant. For example, PTSD patients who were rape victims will have aversion to words such as touch and dirty while patients who were in a fire or war experience will respond similarly to words like burn or fight.
PTSD is what most women of assault suffer. There are many levels of it and one of it’s most defining factors is this.
“Memory disturbances are predominant in the presentation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are part of the diagnostic criteria.1 The re-experiencing symptom criteria of PTSD include intrusive memories of the traumatic event, and the avoidance symptom criteria include the inability to recall important aspects of the trauma”
That’s from a an actual PTSD review document from the US National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health.
I am not going to delve into the biology or the mechanics of it, but trust me when I say the above findings are documented and any therapist or psychologist worth their weight will testify it to being factual.
It is hugely common for a women to be able to recall smell, sight, feel of her attacker, yet not what she even wore that day or what day of the week it was.
I have testimony of dozens of women inside my brain, some in emails, some in messenger where they too cannot recall the details needed to ‘prove’ they were attacked.
Does this mean they imagined it ?
No this means the human brain did what it does when met with a real trauma. It put all its energy into the traumatic event, made it stand out enough to affect you for a lifetime and didn’t ponder on the little details.
The part of your brain which recalls physical memory (physical acts) is not the same part which recalls mundane memories – details, observation of where you are , when it is.
So in trauma the part being stimulated is the part recording a physical act of trauma. While the other details can and often will blur to vagueness, where we can only guess what day it was, what age we were.
There are studies showing the memory part of your brain can actually shrink after a traumatic event and is common in PTSD suffers. A physical change to your brains ability to remember.
Not all women lose memories around an act, yet a lot do. Not all women are prone to PTSD either.
This does not mean her account is false. In fact she lines up with a lot of PTSD sufferers worldwide and it only further validates that this woman, repeatedly seeing therapists through out her life, could not forget what happened – is a sufferer of PTSD.
Caused by a sexual assault.
If she truly wanted to hang the man, make her account more solid. She could have researched the bones out of her story and pinpointed certain details about parties etc. Used dates and places and a guest list of people.
Usually in false accusation claims these are all details that are very present and over explained. Usually inflated over the top accounts of details actually. With very little vagueness.
If you look through the media for recorded account of charges being reversed from false claims you will find a pattern – the victim was believed because of an enormous amount of memory recall, fine details and explicit detailing of the entire event, and surrounding facts. These are called ‘evidence’ and you need a lot of them to put an innocent man in jail. That’s why it doesn’t happen very often,
Who wouldn’t believe that , right?
Ford had nothing except her traumatic memory and blurry details of the surroundings – a pattern of a real victim who only wanted to be truthful about her recall.
Ford thought the truth would be enough.
A naivety that justice would prevail because she was being honest.
So next time you hear a woman or man give testimony to an act and they cannot recall the mundane details, the non physical aspect of the trauma, take a moment to think of the fact that this is true of many legitimate victims worldwide and this person is suffering.
Take a moment to apply the logic of liars – liars usually over detail. They usually add exaggerations and will leave no detail missed out. They will be either so convincing you have no doubts, OR so overly confident in their fantasy that you will pick holes in the testament from the sheer unbelievable facts they have woven in.
It’s documented in fact, in many, many psychology reports. Not to say someone with perfect memory recall is a liar, do not confuse the two.
I have never met someone with a vague testimony to a memory due to PTSD, ever found out to be lying.
Just because it is not YOUR experience, does not mean it is not someone’s experience.
Humans are terrible for not being able to think outside of their own experiences.
A really eye opening article on PTSD and its effects on memory.
If you want the statistic on false reports I couldn’t sum it up better than this guy –
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts today xx