|Photo by Soragrit Wongsa.|
Exhaustingly, sexual assault keeps being a topical thing to discuss. Not only because it keeps happening, but because people keep thinking that it's "not that bad" or "didn't really happen" or "someone else's fault" or that being held responsible for their actions will "ruin a rapist's life" and that's "unfair."
One of the things that keeps coming up is the notion of false accusations. That a woman is making it up to get something - attention or revenge - while ruining the life of an innocent man.
So here's something that's nice to know: what is the actual research on false accusations of rape and sexual assault? Hey, look! Someone (Sandra Newman) looked into it and wrote an article about the actual patterns of false rape accusations.
SUMMARY: there is no pattern or predictability to who will be a victim of rape. Victims are a very sad grab-bag of race, class, gender, age, sex, and everything else. There are, however, clear and predictable patterns to who will put forward a false rape accusation, the reasons why, and the outcomes of that accusation.
First, who: most often false rape accusations come from teenagers trying to get out of trouble with their parents (who admit the truth later), next up are people with histories of criminal fraud, erratic behaviour, and a penchant for lying.
Second, why: it could be personal gain (the charges are dropped once the purpose has been served, like a prisoner claiming he was raped to get moved to a different cell); severe psychosis that leads a person to believe that they have actually been raped (these stories often change drastically between, and within, tellings); revenge (not a scorned lover, but revenge for other purposes); or to get out of trouble (like infidelity or a teenager caught having sex).
Third, the outcomes: rarely do false accusations even make it to court before the accuser admits the truth or (in the case of psychosis or other extravagant fabrications) is revealed to be lying.
Note: it is not uncommon in the revenge or personal gain scenarios for a woman to be coerced by a man into making a false rape accusation. Also, rarely, if ever, do any of these cases involve the "drunken and regrettable hookup" or other such "grey areas" people like to talk about.
Read the whole article, though! It's got a lot more background information that is VERY INTERESTING AND USEFUL TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO AROUND SAYING THINGS ABOUT FALSE ACCUSATIONS!
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