Credit: The Marshall Project

The Accusation

She and Matt weren’t especially close, but he seemed like the only person she could ask. When Katie was twelve and Matt sixteen, she cornered him. “It’s so weird,” she said to her brother. “I don’t remember any of the things they say he did to us.”
“You don’t remember,” Matt said, “because it didn’t happen.”

Neither Katie nor Matt recall where they were during this conversation or what either said next. Their memories are in snippets, barely formed. But it didn’t feel cathartic, Katie says. She felt helpless. “Matt and I would have an intense conversation, but then I’d have to drop it because what was there to say? I didn’t know what to do since I didn’t know my own mind.” She had been taught to trust authority figures—police, courts, therapists—and above all, her mom. Who was right?

For a few more years, Katie’s lack of memory gnawed at her. She poked around in the recesses of her mind, looking for feelings she thought a trauma victim might experience: revulsion, shame, panic, flashes of painful memories. “There was nothing,” she says. “There was no physical feeling to back it up, to explain it.”

Katie’s father went to prison for raping her and her brothers. It was an unthinkable crime that broke her family apart. So why couldn’t she remember it?
Maurice Chammah in The Marshall Project.