Did Jackie Lie? Or Misremember? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 10 2014 @ 7:36am

Back to your regularly scheduled Dish:

Touching on the disjunction between how victims remember their rapes and how they are expected to remember them, survivor Katie Klabusich reminds us that survivors’ accounts often contain discrepancies – and not because they’re making shit up:

Despite having a public platform and a degree of credibility that a private citizen doesn’t enjoy, I’m not a good victim. My story isn’t airtight or unchanging. Even now, when I talk about what happened to me during my four-year abusive relationship, my story has alternate versions. Depending on how much I can handle on any given day, I will leave out details or add them back in. Depending on what aspect of my story can be helpful to another survivor or current news, I will emphasize that part of my attacker’s behavior.

Does this mean I am lying? Certainly not; it means I am a human being with a complicated psyche and lived experience. …

Because I didn’t report, I didn’t have to endure the process of retelling my story the way survivors who come forward in the hopes of prosecuting their attackers must. Most sexual assault survivors tell their story around a dozen times the first day they report — to the responding officer; to the triage clerk at the hospital; to the nurse at the hospital; to the doctor at the hospital; to their best friend who took them to the hospital; to their partner; to the detective. Having to tell your story dozens and dozens of times to dozens and dozens of people leads to discrepancies. Of course it does; how could it not?

She rightly blasts Rolling Stone for making it even harder for survivors to be taken seriously:

When a respected investigative journalism outlet incites a national discussion about what a victim is supposed to do, how and when they’re supposed to report, and whether we should even bother believing them, they are actively choosing to support rape culture and silencing survivors. As our “justice” system only sees fit to punish 3% of prosecuted attackers, most victims will only ever have the court of public opinion (should they seek it out) to vindicate them. Rolling Stone has taken that away as well.

Julia Belluz turns to memory science to point out that even non-traumatic memories can easily be warped, manipulated, or even invented:

In a British study on false memories, adults were led to imagine that they underwent a medical procedure that never took place: it involved a nurse removing a skin sample from their fingers. They then asked the participants about the surgery, as well as other events that were common in childhood (i.e. a tooth extraction). Study participants who imagined the events — as opposed to just reading about them — were more likely to believe they occurred, with about 30 percent reporting that they underwent the impossible surgery in detail such as, “There was a nurse and the place smelled horrible.” Through imagination, the study authors concluded, people can create vivid memories.