Posts Tagged ‘Can a child abuser truly not remember?’

On Monday, I asked the question Is it Possible for an Abuser to “Forget” the Abuse? but only introduced the topic. Yesterday, I wrote about the Evidence of My Mother/Abuser’s Subconscious Memory of Abuse. Today, I am going to take my best stab at the topic.

I truly do believe that, in my mother’s case, she does not carry a memory of the abuse she inflicted in her conscious memory. As I shared in my blog entry yesterday, I have no question that she carries memories of all that she has done in her subconscious memory. I shared two big examples, but I have little examples as well. I have enough validation based upon her reactions and things that she has said and done that must come from her subconscious memories seeping out.

I don’t know if her ability to repress the memories comes from her schizophrenia or from her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she has dissociative identity disorder (DID), suffered from ritual abuse, and has “programmed” alter parts that drove her to deliver her own children over to a cult. Honestly, that theory makes the most sense to me. I do not recall ever seeing my mother at any of the cult sessions, even though I remember her pulling me out of bed and driving me there. I have memories of her picking me up and seeming surprised that I was covered with dirt or whatever.

I suspect that she suffered from similar abuses in her childhood that she and others inflicted upon me. I also suspect that the abuse broke her whereas I was strong enough to fragment myself to survive the abuse without losing myself. Is she responsible? Absolutely. Does she remember at a conscious level? I doubt it. This makes my choice to remove her from my life more complicated because I don’t want to cause her to have a psychotic episode by telling her why I don’t want her in my life. However, because she does not “remember,” she seems to be truly baffled (at a conscious level) at my decision. So, my answer to the question is yes, it is possible for an abuser truly not to remember the abuse (at least at a conscious level).

This situation certainly does not apply to all abusers, however. I have no doubt that S & L (my most sadistic abusers) remember every minute of it and relished it when they did. S was a psychopath who could pass a lie detector test. She could look anyone straight in the eye and deny that the abuse ever happened. She was truly evil, whereas I think my mother was broken.

This is probably why my therapist advises against getting into my abusers’ heads. He says that their motivation, whether it is brokenness or pure evil, is not going to help me heal but has the capacity to make healing more challenging. I have been able to heal while still speculating on the workings of my abusers’ minds. My childhood was destroyed – It only stands to reason that I would want to understand why.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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In my blog entry yesterday, I kicked off the topic of whether it is possible for a child abuser to “forget” or repress memories of abusing a child. My mother is a person who does not appear to have any conscious memories of having been an abuser or of delivering her own children to a group of ritual abusers. However, I have no question that she carries memories of the abuse at least at a subconscious level.

I wrote about one incident here. I (through an alter part) confronted my mother when I was in graduate school about the sexual abuse. I yelled at her, “You already f@#$ed me as a child. You are not going to f@#$ me as an adult!!!!” Her response was to hang up on me, get out a gun, and strongly contemplate killing herself. That does not sound like a woman with no memory of what she did. If she truly had no memory on any level of what she did, her reaction would have been very different.

Here is another example: During the summer after I graduated high school (after my mother’s sanity snapped from my father’s sudden death), my mother broke down crying at the breakfast table and told me that my 15-year-old sister had been raped a few months ago. Here was the story she told me: My sister and her best friend were at a male friend’s house. He tickled both of them and chased them into the bedroom. He tied them both up to the bed. He raped one while the other was forced to watch. Then, he did the same to the other one. She begged me not to tell my sister and told me that she was getting my sister help.

Several years later, I asked my sister about this incident, and she swore up and down that it never happened. My sister pointed out that both she and her friend were the size of adults and that the friend was a black belt in Judo. A man would have a difficult time restraining both of them without a weapon.

My world was turned on its ear. My mother had provided me with a very detailed accounting and was crying when she told me (something she rarely did). Then, when I recovered a flashback, it all made sense. I wrote about the incident in detail here. Here is a summary of what I recovered in the flashback:

I was three years old the first time my mother performed oral sex on my baby sister in front of me. She took us to the basement and tied us to chairs with my father’s ties. First, she performed oral sex on me while my sister watched. Then, she forced me to watch her do the same to my sister.

Sound familiar?

My therapist strongly suspects that my mother has schizophrenia based on the symptoms I have shared with him. I am also pretty certain that she suffers at the very least from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from child abuse that she has shared with me that she recovered through flashbacks. I don’t know what information she retains in her daily memory about the horrors she inflicted, but I know the truth is in her head based on these incidents as well as others I won’t go into here.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Remembering Sexual Abuse Incidents but Not the Rapes, readers posted the following comments:

Is is possible for an abuser to forget the abuse that he or she did, or to forget the abuse that he or she enabled? I know the victim can forget – can the abuser(s)? ~ Lilo

So can an abuser have ‘forgotten’ or is he/she manipulating people in believing that (s)he is completely innocent (and we, the victims consequently crazy) and is (s)he just lying/denying all the way? ~ Chloe

This is a topic that continues to haunt me as well because I am in the same boat. I truly do not believe that my mother/abuser carries a conscious memory of the abuse that she inflicted upon my sister and me, but I know that she carries memories of it in her subconscious mind. I will get into that in tomorrow’s blog entry.

Before proceeding with this topic, let me add my therapist’s warning – He told me that I need to stay out of my abuser’s head. He said that, regardless of what was going on in her head, her actions hurt me. So, whether or not my mother/abuser consciously remembers the abuses that she inflicted does not change the damage done to me. Her mindset has no bearing on the wounds inflicted or my right to heal.

While I understand where my therapist is coming from, I think it is completely human and understandable to want to know the answer to this question. This woman turned my childhood into a living hell. Could she possibly be walking around in her day-to-day life with no memory of the damage she did for decades? If she does remember, she is a d@#$ good liar. If she doesn’t remember, then why in the h@#$ did she put me through it in the first place? What was the point? Either way, it makes no sense.

The other reason I think we child abuse survivors feel a need to know is because we question our own sanity when we recover very detailed memories of abuse that are denied. When we know that we were harmed in a very specific way with very specific details, it makes us feel “crazy” when our abusers can look us straight in the eye and flatly deny that it happened. That sets us up for an “either you are crazy or I am” dynamic, and our abusers are perfectly happy to let us believe that we are the crazy ones. I guess that is why my therapist cautions me against “going there” at all.

Today is just an introduction to the topic. Tomorrow, I will share my “evidence” that my mother/abuser has memories of committing the abuse (at least at a subconscious level). Then, I will share some of my theories in answer to this question on Wednesday.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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