Don’t Tell Me What I Remember

Like many survivors of male violence, I am continually told that my memories are false.

This is too convenient. Of course, it is saying shut up with a smiling face. For it always claimed that it for my own good.

Now, I know if was going to have false memories, there is no way I would or could imagine the horrors I have lived through.

I do not have that much imagination.

I do come from a background where prostitution is rarely talked about. Most women of my background ignore the sex trade completely, it is assumed to be nothing to do with their lives.

I like many women who have survive male violence have fragmented memory. This is a result of the trauma I have.

But, do remember certain events very clearly. And more important I do have many body memories of the pain I put through.

I do not choose to have this pain in my body, I fight it every day.

I have enough pride to act as if I don’t feel pain in my body. I do not want it effect how I lead my life now.

But the body does remember and will eventally force the mind to remember.

One reason I know I remember the truth, is that most of me does not want to know that I could so degraded and tortured.

I would rather be totally ignorant of male violence and hatred. I would rather not know very much about prostitution. I don’t want to know about hard-core porn. And I just want childhood sexual abuse to be outside of me.

I would really like to be ignorant that women and children are raped, tortured and murdered by men.

But I cannot ignore my past as comes back clearer and clearer into my life.

I will see who I was. I could not turn away even if I wanted to.

I know that I had to blank out the horror of the callous hatred men put into me to live . I could not know my reality.

Now, I am safe, I can remember. Now, I have the strength to believe who I was.

I can honoured the strength of will it took to build barriers around myself so I could survive. These barriers made me detached from the pain and the knowledge that the men that used saw me as a piece of dirt.

Now, I can all I was a f-k object for their sick fantasies.

Now, I am proud that I had the strength of will to not allow their hate inside me too much.

I will remember the reality.

I believe to build a better future, it is important to see the past with a clear eye.

Also, as I clear away some of the past, I have more space for happiness in the present.

13 responses to “Don’t Tell Me What I Remember

  1. Well done (such a passe phrase I know) for telling those who are desperately seeking to silence your work. It takes a lot of courage to tell those disbelievers that what happened to you was not fantasy neither are you a liar. False memory syndrome does not exist but so many want it to exist because this would absolve men as a group of their accountability and responsibility.


  2. Beautifully said, Rebecca. You are so inspiring. If you have the courage to stand up and tell your truths then so do I. I am there standing by your side and we will hold strong to our truths and our beliefs.

    ‘They said: you are a savage and dangerous woman. I said: I tell the truth and the truth is savage and dangerous.’
    -Nawal El Saadawi


  3. I’ve been trying to put something together about ‘false memory syndrome’, and how convenient it is that it is used anytime someone wants to basically call someone a liar. How it is used by people who do not want you to be heard. But I can’t seem to get it right at the moment – I’ll keep trying 🙂 x


  4. The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. — Judith Herman, M.D.

    “False Memory Syndrome” is a theory ’invented’ by psychology: circa 1992. Moreover, even though false memory advocates have failed to adequately define or document the existence of a specific syndrome, it continues to be bandied about with abandonment. Let us think about it – sexual abuse historically was ignored and then suddenly when it became ‘acceptable’ to talk of such experiences it swiftly becomes pathologized as a psychological syndrome. Hardly rocket science.


  5. Louise Armstrong has a lot to say about false memory syndrome which as Sparkle says was created by those individuals primarily men (of course) who continue to deny the reality of men’s violence against women. One book by Louise Armstrong is entitled ‘What Happened When Women Said Incest.’ Also Patrizia Romito’s book ‘A Deafening Silence’ has a section on the pseudo false memory syndrome. Hope this helps Debs and Rebecca thank you for challenging this new male-defined myth.


  6. Thanks everyone. I think Sparkle is right that False Memory was invented to stop women who dare to speak out about male violence by saying they must have a mental illness.
    I found reading Judith Herman and Melissa Farley very helpful is helping me to recognise that having huge gaps in memory was because of the horrific events I was forced to live with. I did have to force the reality of the violence and hate from my consciousness.
    Jennifer, I have read Louise Armstrong, it is really good, especially coz she uses humour to show how ridiculous False Memory Syndrome really is.
    A book that I found really helpful was “My Father’s House: A Memoir of Incest and Healing” by Sylvia Fraser. This is a Canadian book, it was published by Virago, but I not sure if it is still in print. She had very fragmented memories of her abuse. So she write in a forensic detective style to uncover what she can.
    I feel I will never remember a large part of my life. I am trying to come to terms with that. But I know the things I can remember are true.
    Allecto, thanks so much for really moving comment. I am absolutely standing by your side.
    The quote from Nawel El Saadawi sums up exactly why I can’t be silenced. It is that –
    “the truth is savage and dangerous”.


  7. Thanks Allecto for giving us Nawal El Saadawi’s very powerful quote. It is worth repeating again – ‘the truth is savage and dangerous.’ So we must ask ourselves how is ‘truth savage and dangerous.’ Is it dangerous for women to speak the truth? Or is it dangerous because speaking the truth exposes the lengths society and violent men go to in order to hide the truth.


  8. This is a great post, Rebecca. Those who refuse to believe in what has been done to you are cowards without integrity or conscience. They profit from the abuse of women, which is why they make outrageous statements denying your life and your pain.

    None of us doubt you, and we love you



  9. I know I’ve told you before that you are amazing and how I think anyone who doesn’t believe you is just too scared to face the horrible reality and/or just wants to shut you up about the truth.

    But what I never mentioned is even though I was never prostituted I too had/have significant gaps in my memory from childhood that are slowly being filled in. (I came from an abusive home.) We get so good at repressing, but you’re right, our bodies never forget.

    You’re a strong and wonderful person.


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