Sexual Assault

False Allegations

In  my professional travels, one topic that frequently arises is that of false allegations of sexual assault. There is a widespread, but incorrect belief that this is common, and that women in particular, will frequently lie about sexual assault as a response to, say, “regretted” sex or infidelity.

My colleagues wrote a fantastic piece on the research around false allegations (PDF), which I would encourage people to read and share with their multidisciplinary teams. And the always compelling blog Yes Means Yes today publicized the forthcoming publication of a new research article by David Lisak, et al. (who co-authored the aforementioned article) that reports on the results of a recent study on this topic, with compelling outcomes. The blog entry is a nice overview of Dr. Lisak’s work in this area, and it’s well-linked, if you’re so inclined to delve deeper.

One reply on “False Allegations”

It doesn’t matter if it is common or not. It does happen and it is wrong.

Human beings who falsely accuse other human beings of sexual violence should be punished. Period.

Human beings who commit acts of sexual violence against other human beings should be punished. Period.

We, as a society, need to do a better job of helping actual victims of sexual violence. From encouraging them to seek out medical help after a sexual assault so they can have a post rape examination and take the prophylactic drugs available to prevent STD infection to encouraging them to confront their attacker to help lock that attacker away for a very long time, our society could do a much better job of providing a better support system to those victims of rape (who unfortunately do under report the crimes against them).

And one thing that can be done to help actual victims of rape is to punish those who would falsely accuse someone else of sexual violence.

Unfortunately, there are too many people who seek to shine a light on false rape accusations who come off looking like women haters, and some of them actually do hate women. We should not allow those people to discourage us as a society from seeking to punish those who would make a false accusation of sexual violence (perhaps the most serious false accusation that could be made against someone). And any person who makes a false accusation of rape serves to not only harm the accused for life, but that person also harms every legitimate rape victim out there in her attempts to seek justice.

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