Fighting the Myths Around False Rape Accusations

By October 3, 2018Uncategorized

I continue to see people post we should be afraid of how men can now be accused of anything and their lives are ruined. How men should be afraid. If you’re spreading this myth: STOP! It’s not our reality.

Let’s explore why.

In short, false reporting is not a pervasive issue with enduring consequences. It’s severely overblown. Read more to find out factually why.

Here are the facts. False accusations ruining men’s lives is an overblown hysteria being manufactured based on mostly anecdotal experience or heavily nuanced scenarios. Let’s look at the research.

Of multiple studies conducted on reported assaults, researchers working with legal officials estimated that false reporting accounted for as low as 2% but up to 12% of annual false reports. These two extremes were more so outliers with most studies falling closer to the 4-7%.

Yes, 4-7% is still a problem. The thing is with these false reports numbers is that they constitute all assaults reported. Not prosecuted assaults resulting in jail time.

The other side of this talking point is the fact that only 6% of reported assailants ever face jail time. This is in all reported cases.

Due to a broken legal system, what we know is that in most cases where a rapist/assailant is convicted and faces jail time, this occurs in trials where there is overwhelming evidence, a profound number of witnesses, and often multiple victims.

It is still exceedingly hard in the US to get a conviction because of false myths around sexual violence, incorrect perceptions, and inadequate systems in place. Additionally, some states still have antiquated laws that only consider sexual violence in the presence of extreme physical harm. If convictions occur, it is generally due to overwhelming evidence in violent cases.

So, the chances that a woman would make a false report and be able to manipulate the system and falsify evidence so much as to get a conviction are almost overwhelmingly rare. Most actual assailants don’t face time for their crime. And those who do many times face light punishments.

Also, false reports are generally caught by the legal system because the process knows how to find inconclusive evidence. There are plenty of examples of this. In these cases, men can sue for damages and often win.

Now let’s look to the claim that a false report ruins a man’s life socially. Well, if that’s the case let’s look at all the celebrities who have admitted to actual crimes and still have jobs. Or even high-profile cases for non-celebrities where men go to trial, and their name is cleared.

In the second example, yes, the process for these men can be emotionally difficult. I work in trauma so I in no way invalidate that being accused of a crime you can prove you didn’t commit is traumatic. But again, the system exists to ensure this doesn’t happen. Rarely do men who are falsely accused face long-term impacts from these accusations. (Also, to note the times that the system frequently doesn’t work in is most often at the detriment of men of color so that must be discussed.)

Many men who do commit crimes, are often accused by multiple individuals, and sometimes admit guilt, get to continue to operate just fine with the same privileges afforded to them as before. Louis CK is performing again and retains his wealth. Matt Lauer is talking about returning to TV. Trump is still president. Clarence Thomas is still on the Supreme Court. Jamies Winston still plays in the NFL. Men get away with sexual violence in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Here’s the other thing in light of this week. People will often point to the Kavanaugh hearing or examples on college campuses as why men should be afraid. Well, Kavanaugh’s interviewing for a job, and Title IX on college campuses are not legal trials. Can college proceedings be improved? Absolutely. All systems can be improved. These still don’t ruin lives.

Now, again, I work with victims and survivors. I study trauma. I know how difficult it can be to endure trauma.

I know an authentic false report is still an emotional toll for those going through these things. But even if he is innocent, what Kavanaugh is going through isn’t hell.

The memory of a rape or assault wasn’t imprinted on his brain. He hasn’t suffered something leaving long-term trauma that changed his chemical makeup and the physiology of how his brain operates.

If he is indeed innocent, this is a week for him that is difficult. But if he is innocent, and likely even if he is not, he will still probably get the job. This week will not cause him to inherit the PTSD that myself and many survivors inherit. PTSD that research has shown to be as insidious, damning, and more prevalent than for almost any other population that is often a daily and lifelong experience.

Survivors face struggles on often a daily level that we did not choose, but we cannot escape. We have to go through this. And the harsh reality in watching this all unfold has been re-victimizing for many of us.

In some small cases, false reporting happens. It does. The impact of this can be damaging. These cases are rare. And more often not they are resolved with little to no long-term blowback against the man. Again, this doesn’t mean it is easy, but it does mean that false reports are not a death sentence as claimed. And accusations are still not treated as automatic guilt.

Please. Stop sharing the memes. Stop feeding the hysteria. Have some respect for the survivors in your life.

Because we survivors are watching, and we see who posts these. I know a lot of survivors may not know the facts or the details to fight back. But as a survivor and researcher, I am telling you these posts are not true. And they are damning.

Now, those sharing these post are right about one thing. As a man, I am afraid. I’m afraid for what these posts are doing to all people in our country, for female, non-binary, transgender and male survivors of assault. I’m worried about how people are buying into this fear and hysteria without research. I’m afraid about the message these posts are spreading to survivors who are still silent.

And I’m afraid this message will do the opposite of what people are claiming. Not that it will teach men to be scared of their actions but instead that the indifference we have shown indicates that men can get away with assault in a broken system.

So. Stop sharing the posts. Stop.

Still have questions? Ask me directly. I’m here, I’m willing to educate, and I’m not going anywhere. Comment or reach out to me.

But I’m not stopping until this myth dies.