All America has been transfixed this past week with the controversy surrounding an alleged incident of sexual violation lodged against judge and Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. The accusation goes back 36 years to when Kavanaugh was 16 and Ford was 15. Ford says that, during heavy drinking at a party, Kavanaugh shoved her into a bedroom and sexually assaulted her to the point that she “feared for her life.” Ford says she didn’t remember the incident until she and her husband were in couple’s therapy and the memories returned. Kavanaugh denies all of it.
By the time this blog is released, who knows how this story will turn, because it gets stranger by the minute. Political commentators from the left and right are voicing every possible idea about the truthfulness of the allegation, but the main questions are being overlooked. First, is it possible to suppress something so significant for so long? Second, can recovered memories be trusted? I have good reason to opine regarding this matter. Being involved in deliverance and inner healing raises similar questions of recovered memories. Here’s what I’ve learned from hundreds of similar cases spanning four decades of frontline, spiritual warfare ministry.
First, yes, horrible memories can be hidden for years, even decades. But the process usually requires psychological dissociation or deliberate demonic repression. Also, in most cases of recovered memory, the perpetrator is a family member and there was a compelling need to forget the incident. Ford may or may not be a victim of demonic suppression or mental amnesia. A dissociative individual can suppress emotionally painful experiences by creating an alter-ego personality, and that identity compartmentalizes the unfortunate memory in a hidden place of the mind. If the Ford-alleged event occurred, it’s possible she suppressed it for decades.
But to evaluate the second question, as to whether a murky memory is to be trusted, we need to consider the process of “selective memory.” That’s the ability to recall some things correctly while other thoughts and facts are remembered less truthfully. Time has a way of editing events in one’s past. If an event was traumatic, and even demonic, the memory may not be 100% accurate. An individual may remember the name of their first pet, for example, but have hazy recollections of interaction with the animal. Selective memory is more likely when the event was an alcohol-fueled party.
We should also consider this. Kavanaugh is a confessing Christian, and whatever he did or didn’t do is forgiven by Christ. Senators are not being asked to vote on the possibility of a decades-old drunken indiscretion but the present witness of Kavanaugh’s adult, educated, morally consistent life.
When I encounter a traumatic memory of an abused individual, I usually corroborate that information by interrogating the demons that entered through the event. If I had five minutes with Ford, as an exorcist, I could likely get to the truth. This much is certain. One, or both, of these individuals needs deliverance, whatever the truth of Ford’s allegations.