Let’s say you’ve decided to write about your personal experience, especially your abusive childhood.
The first problem you face is how open can you be? Will your writing hurt others? In my book When a Man You Love Was Abused, I mentioned my first perpetrator was a female relative. I didn’t name her because her children and grandchildren would probably read my book. Even though she was dead, I didn’t feel I had the right to expose her.
If you have to name living persons, what will you do? You do have the right to tell your story, and you can name names. The way to do it is to include disclaimers: “This is how I remember it” or “As I understood.” That way you are giving your opinion and not presenting information as absolute facts. That keeps you free from lawsuits.
Too many people advise writers to change names, but I try to avoid that method as much as possible. The more forthright you can be, the stronger your story.
Second, you need to ask yourself: How accurate are my memories? As much as possible, find ways to verify what you believe happened. In my case, my three older sisters verified parts of my story.
I insert that question because of what has been called the false-memory syndrome. It’s been verified that some therapists unconsciously ask about abuse and some clients are so open to suggestion, they feel they were sexually assaulted.
(Still more coming on personal experiences.)