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Nicole Bedera @NBedera
, 15 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
As we move into the #Kavanaugh investigation, I want to have a chat about false allegations. From my experience, this is the #1 topic that is misunderstood by the general public and I want to address some of that confusion.
It's worth knowing that academics don't take "false allegations" too seriously. The reason for that is that they're really rare. False allegations of sexual assault are no more common that any other crime--and some studies have found that they're rarer. journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.117…
And as a former victim advocate, I can say that false allegations are easier to root out than most people think. Details don't match up or stories are too perfect. The allegations fall apart easily and the accusers often come clean.
The other option is that the stories lack details altogether. A lot of people who think a false allegation will work also believe that everyone takes rape victims at their word, so they don't put a lot of thought into the story. So again, they fall apart and the truth comes out.
Still, most people (and men especially) think they know a lot of stories of false allegations ruining lives, right? Well, not really. In my research, the most commonly cited "false allegation" was the one against Kobe Bryant. And he confessed in a police report. It wasn't false.
It's the same thing with the people we know more personally. We trusted them when they told us that they were falsely accused, but the hard truth is that most of them committed an act of sexual assault and draw on the language of false allegations to avoid social stigma.
To end, I want to note that I'm not just saying this as some feminist academic who can sit in my ivory tower and pass judgment because a false allegation could never tarnish me. I have, in fact, been falsely accused of sexual assault. And that's exactly why I hard line this.
One of the rapists of a sexual assault victim I interviewed for research got wind that she had participated in a study about sexual violence. As far as I can tell, he got worried that he would be exposed, so he filed an anonymous report with my university.
He accused me of having "inappropriate relationships" with my research subjects, which is a very serious charge. He filed it not to IRB, but instead to the campus office that investigates sexual misconduct.
For a minute, this was really scary. But it also wasn't. I hadn't done anything wrong and I wasn't afraid of an investigation. Assuming I could do so without violating the privacy of my research participants, I was happy to comply in whatever way was necessary.
All in all, the process of weeding out the false allegation was easy---almost alarmingly easy. Even though the investigation spanned across two colleges, it was all over within a month or so and it only took about three hours of my time.
The biggest detriment was that I paused the study for a couple of months while everything got sorted out. It was a little inconvenient, but that's it.
If anything, as someone who advocates for survivors, I wish I had been scrutinized more intensely for the sake of all of the legitimate reports of sexual assault.
The takeaway? False allegations aren't the threat we think they are. Most allegations of sexual assault are legitimate and the few false allegations that exist can usually be spotted quickly, easily, and relatively pain-free.
Want more information on this? I can't recommend this book strongly enough: npr.org/2018/02/06/583…
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