“Dear Ignacio, a few years ago I got #flashbacks of me as a kid being sexually abused. One of the flashbacks was of me as a child performing a sex act on another kid. The memory is so foggy I’m not sure when or why this was happening. But, I know it was inappropriate and #incestual. I am truly horrified that I hurt someone else the way I had been hurt. I am not an #abuser and I try to stress #consent all the time. I talked to the person that was involved, and they said they have no memory of this happening. But I do. What can I do to be accountable?”
Thank you for sharing your story and this very important question. You are holding so much, and I hope you are being kind to yourself and not forgetting to breathe.
Flashbacks can bring up the very feelings happening at the time of the event, as if one is reliving the moment. Reconstructing memories of #childhood based on fragments is an exhausting process that may never lead to satisfying results. Whether we remember all the details or have no recollection of what we experienced, processing through the feelings can be confusing and overwhelming.
Flashbacks and memories may show up in the form of visual and auditory clues, or entirely remain emotional. These clues may come up as a reaction to triggers. All of these clues together with one’s “gut” feelings are valid forms of knowing. While you may not remember everything, what you remember and how you feel about it is valid and real.
To help you further process through these feelings, both what happened to you and what you may have done to others, I suggest getting yourself some support in the form of reaching out to a trusted friend or family member, calling a sexual abuse or CSA hotline, seeking therapy, finding a support group, and reading on the subject to learn more.
I commend you for reaching out to the other child. Coming to terms with your own abuse is difficult enough, and acknowledging any potential harm done to another is a brave step. This transparency by itself is part of the #accountability work.
Even though the person in question currently has no recollection of the event, this may change at any time. What you can do is to let the person know that you are there to talk and go through an accountability process if that time ever comes.
Accountability doesn't just involve the person who's been harmed, but also you need accountability to yourself and to your #community. I encourage you to continue to seek answers and work to construct a safety container for yourself throughout this process.
Understanding your #boundaries, tuning into your own relationship with #consent, working on your #communication skills, and remaining open and honest about your feelings and needs are some steps forward.
Here are a few suggested resources that could help you in this journey, one moment at a time:
1 - HealingHonestly.com by Alisa Zipursky for discussions of unclear memories of childhood sexual abuse
2 - Consensuality: Navigating Feminism, Gender, and Boundaries Towards Loving Relationships for affirming yourself, consent, and boundaries
3 - Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin for many stories on how childhood sexual abuse can cause boundary injury and how to address them
4 - Pod Mapping by Mia Mingus of BATJC for intentional work around building a support network to address violence with community accountability
5 - Victim Offender Dialogue Program by Ahimsa Collective for a Restorative Justice Approach around sexual violence
6 - Love With Accountability by Aishah Shahidah Simmons for further reading on root causes of childhood sexual abuse and survivor stories