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When Alex woke from a coma, his twin brother told him about their perfect childhood. It was a lie.

This post deals with child sexual abuse and might be triggering for some readers.

When Alex Lewis woke up from a six-week coma after a motorcycle accident in 1982, he recognised his identical 18-year-old twin Marcus.

But that’s all he remembered, and all he recognised.

Here’s the trailer for Tell Me Who I Am. Post continues after video.

Video via Netfilx

Alex’s brain injuries were so severe he couldn’t even remember his own name, or how to tie his shoes. Or what a bike was.

“Everything had gone,” he explained in the opening scenes of the new Netflix documentary Tell Me Who I Am. 

Alex didn’t even recognise his own mother.

And so Marcus concocted a new reality for his twin, a protection – a clean slate.

For more than a decade he created fake memories for his twin, happy memories of a privileged, wholesome and wonderful childhood.

The twins and their mother. Image: Netflix.
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He told Alex about family holidays they shared in France, where they licked ice-cream and frolicked in the surf. He let him believe that they had Sunday dinners around the table like the ones Alex spotted on the TV advertisements.

Alex told The Guardian in 2010, "I clung on to everything he said as truth. He became my memory. He told me about school, friends, previous girlfriends and holidays, and showed me family photographs, but it still meant nothing to me".

But everything Marcus told him about their family was a lie.

From the age of six, the twins had been sexually abused by their mother who allowed them to be tortured by a pedophile ring.

Their childhood was far far from the idyllic beautiful one that Marcus created for Alex.

twins-kids
The twins as children. Image: Netflix.

The twin's dad died in a car crash when they were six, and their mum and step-father raised them alongside their younger half-brother and half-sister who were also abused.

There were things that were weird about Alex's new reality but he didn't know any different. For instance, they weren't allowed keys to the main house and they weren't allowed in certain rooms. But Marcus told him not to worry about it - so he didn't.

In 1996, their mother died. The twins were 32 by this stage. Alex cried at the loss of his mum, but Marcus didn't.

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When they went to clean out the house (their step-dad had also died by this point) they found a wardrobe of sex toys and wads of cash in weird spots around the house - in jam jars, stitched into the back of curtains. But Marcus assured him it was fine.

But then they found a photo of themselves as young boys, they were naked with their heads cut off. It was strange, and Alex found himself feeling shocked. There were too many weird and unnerving things in a row.

He asked the question outright: "Were we abused as children?" And so Marcus told him the truth - he simply said "Yes".

twins-as-teenagers
The twins as teenagers with their mother Jill. Image: Netflix.

“I just cried and cried and cried for days. I didn’t know what to do,” Alex said in the film.

"Finding out what had really happened to me was harder than the accident. Nothing was how it seemed; it felt like a fresh trauma, knowing I'd been living a false life. I had to start over a second time.

"When I found out my real life story, all my emotional responses came flooding back, good as well as bad: anger, relief, sadness," he previously told The Guardian.

Alex was never angry at Marcus. But he was definitely angry at his mother and went through an incredibly rough patch trying to rebuild his reality for a second time.

Eventually both twins married and each had two children, and Alex now admits that Marcus probably saved him. He thinks he might not have been about to deal with the memory of the abuse straight after his accident.

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TWINS-OLDER-
The twins as they are today, in the documentary. Image: Netflix.

Marcus told the documentary he was accused by some of "playing God" but through tears he says he'd do it again, and he'd expect Alex to do it for him if the tables were turned. Their reality was so horrific that he feels, it would have been cruel to make Alex relive it.

In 2013, the twins wrote a book of the same name as the Netflix special, in which Marcus deliberately kept the details of his side a bit ambiguous. It wasn't until they filmed the documentary that Alex found out the true extent of their shared history.

For 20 years Marcus has kept the details to himself. The twins have never sat down to discuss it properly. They didn't even speak about it before Alex's accident.

In the documentary, Marcus tells Alex the details of their past for the first time. Image: Netflix.
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Unable to tell him face-to-face, Marcus let Alex watch a four minute video in which he told him how when they were young, their mother Jill would "take us into her bed, make us touch each other... masturbate us".

She would pass the twins around to her friends. That usually meant going to dinner at someone’s house, then leaving one twin or the other with the host.

“Some strange man that I’d never met would take me into his bed and touch me and rape me and violate me,” Marcus told Alex.

When Jill picked him up in the morning, “I was silent, and then it would happen again and again".

The same thing was happening to Alex, and Marcus doesn't think their step-father, who was a mean and violent man, was aware of what was going on.

Alex and Jill
Alex with his mother before she died, and before he knew the truth about her. Image: Netflix.

The abuse ended when they were 14 and Marcus found his voice yelling "stop" when another pedophile tried to touch his genitals. He escaped and made his own way home, and even though his mother looked surprised to see him at breakfast that next day she didn't say anything.

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“That’s how it stopped,” Marcus explained.

The brothers are right now promoting the documentary, while continuing to run their company Fundu Lagoon, a luxury resort hotel off the coast of East Africa.

 

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Let the view do the talking...

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Neither are on social media and they don't want to be, reports Decider.com. They've already had a few movie offers for their story, but they aren't making any rash decisions.

“We’ve achieved closure beyond anything I could have imagined with each other by making this movie,” Alex told the publication. “That’s an incredible gift the film has given us.”

“It’s taken us 15 to 20 times watching the film to feel comfortable with it. We were nervous at first. But we’re starting to be quite proud. We don’t feel we’ve made a movie about sexual abuse—we hope we haven’t anyway. We think we made a movie about love," Alex told Decider.com.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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