WOULD you tell your identical twin brother about years of sexual abuse at the hands of your mother if, mercifully, he had suffered amnesia?

This was the crushing dilemma faced by Marcus Lewis, 54, when his brother Alex lost his childhood memories following a teenage biking accident.

The brothers, who were sexually abused by their mother in rural Sussex, have now laid bare the years of torment they had to endure in order to encourage other families to talk about their pasts.

Their story is the premise of Netflix's latest documentary, Tell Me Who I Am.

The Argus:

The boys, whose dad died in a car accident when they were three days old, grew up in Rudgwick, near Horsham, in a beautiful Elizabethan home with their mother Jill Dudley, stepfather Jack and younger half siblings Oliver and Amanda.

They were sent to the nearby private prep school Pennthorpe, but when it was discovered that they were severely dyslexic – or "stupid", as Jack preferred to say – they were placed in a comprehensive in Cranleigh, Surrey, where they were bullied.

Alex, who is happily married and lives in Chichester, previously told The Argus: “Our mother was a very sexual person. She came from a strict, conservative background and her upbringing was extremely conventional.

"Then, later in life, she became highly sexualised and took it too far. She didn’t have any boundaries. This was her main problem in life.

"Whether it was turning up uninvited to our parties and saying inappropriate things to our friends or wearing outrageous clothes, she just didn’t think it was wrong.”

Jill would leave her young sons – one at a time, never together – overnight with male friends who sexually abused them. Marcus said: “Without a doubt our mother knew exactly what she was doing.

"She was in no way naive – she was far too devious and clever.”

In a bizarre twist of fate, Alex lost his memory in a motorbike accident when he was 18, leaving Marcus with the impossible decision of whether to tell his brother the truth or hide their past.

The Argus:

Alex told The Argus: “When I woke up from my coma and saw my twin, the recognition was instant. “It was only moments later that I realised I didn’t know anything else.” Marcus said he didn’t consciously make the decision to hide the abuse from Alex when he was in hospital.

He said: “I was 18 at the time. It was thrust upon me, and I was so busy the first couple of months teaching Alex to walk again and caring for him. His mental age was quite young at first.

“It wasn’t until three or four months in that Alex started asking some more difficult questions.

The Argus:

“It was a protective thing. If you had the opportunity to give that to your sibling, you would. It’s a no- brainer.”

Marcus dismissed his brother’s questioning, admitting: “I was in this dilemma. If I told him the truth I would then give him this trauma.”

With no memory of the abuse, Alex continued to make a good recovery, and to build a close bond with his mother. He said: “I was being lead. Marcus was my memories.

"I grew to love and accept them very quickly. I spent 13 years in that state of mind that everything was fine.” It was only when their mother died in 1995 that Alex first became suspicious of his past. Alex said: “I was grieving. Every- body was upset.

"But Marcus didn’t seem particularly upset. That bothered me a lot.” In packing up their mother’s house the brothers came across evidence that their childhood was not the idyllic picture that Alex was lead to believe.

The Argus:

The twins found a concealed door in a wardrobe, where they found photographs, letters, documents, bric-a-brac, a collection of sex toys and – disturbingly – a naked picture of the twins.

The reality slowly started to emerge after Alex visited a healer in a failed attempt to recover his memory. She told him she suspected he’d been abused.

The horrifying truth was finally revealed by his brother who then did not talk about it for another ten years. It was younger brother Oliver who helped fill in the gaps.

The twins were then approached by Hodder and Stoughton, who had heard about their story and wanted to write a book.

Alex knew about 30% of his past when he embarked on the book project two years ago, and signed up in a bid to unearth the rest. He said: “Marcus tried to stop me from doing it – I can see now out of love. “He wanted to protect me, but I needed to know.

“The quest is now over. I can finally leave the past behind and move on. I feel lighter.” The book writing process involved reading through 2,000 of their mother’s old letters. As far as the twins were concerned, their mother did not have much money to her name, dressing in charity shop clothes and running a vintage stall in London’s Portobello market.

The twins remember there never being enough food at home and having to go to neighbour’s houses to eat. The whole family were shocked to discover they were left millions in their mother’s will.

The Argus:

Along with traumatic memories, there were other disturbing discoveries. The brothers found out that their father, who died when they were three weeks old, had crashed his car driving one of the twins home from hospital after being told he might not be the boys’ father.

The twins struggle to understand what drove their mother to behave the way she did, apparently oblivious to the psychological harm she was inflicting on them.

Worse still, after their father’s death, Jill abandoned her twins in a children’s home for a year until she was shamed by relatives into taking them back.

Alex said: “She didn’t abandon us because she was distraught over losing our father.

“She was out, having boyfriends and all sorts. She wasn’t sitting at home moping. If she were alive today, I would have liked to see her brought to account, like the Stuart Halls of this world. By outing my mother, her name will always be tainted, but we had to be honest.

People need to talk about abuse, release it and stop being victims.” Asked if the twins could ever forgive their mother, Alex said: “I think you can have some sort of understanding on an intellectual level, but forgive? No I don’t think I can ever do that.”

The Argus:

Both of the twins are now happily married with children. Alex, his wife and their two sons, live in Chichester and Marcus shares a three-bedroom townhouse in north London with his wife and their two children.

Marcus said: “By telling our story, we want to show you have a choice.

You can stay a victim and go down, or step up and move on with your life. Without a doubt we survived because we had each other.

“Our bond was so close and our love for each other unconditional. It was as if we had our own protective bubble.”

Alex finished: “We are both married, we both have children. You can move forward. These harrowing things can happen to you, but we’ve all got the opportunity to put that aside and live our lives.”