This has been my experience, and from talking to many other survivors over the years, I know it’s fairly common.
“A PTSD sufferer can have trauma memories that are alarmingly vivid and, at the same time, infuriatingly vague. Or, in some cases, there is total amnesia. This paradox has been at the heart of the controversies that have surrounded PTSD and trauma survivors. How reliable can a survivor’s story be if the memory of the event is hazy? The facts of a trauma can dominate a life, yet the specific trauma memories can be excluded from consciousness. How so? In the past two decades, trauma scientists have sought to resolve this paradox by unraveling the essence of how human memory works.”
I understand that asking these questions is going to feel like the survivor is being stigmatized, and to some degree, we are. But, the legal system also depends on facts, evidence, and unfortunately, non-hazy memories. So seeking justice is often a frustrating journey for survivors. We know we were abused and carry that trauma with us, but proving it in a courtroom may be beyond our reach in some cases. That’s not to say it isn’t worth the effort, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Eventually, I hope that as we come to understand the information in this article, and learn more about how the brain processes and stores traumatic memories, we can find a better path to justice, and a lot more understanding and compassion for survivors who don’t have a coherent story and timeline to their abuse. In the mean time, we’ll keep sharing these kinds of articles in the hope that more and more people will see and understand.