Consider the following situations that often predicate lying about rape…
- After a night of alcohol-fueled consensual sex a regretful young woman discovers she’s pregnant
- Another gets dumped by a boyfriend and decides to get even
- A willing participant in an extramarital affair contracts chlamydia
- During a heated divorce a woman accuses her estranged husband of rape to prevent him from getting custody of their children
- A troubled woman makes a false accusation to get medical attention, medication, or counseling she wouldn’t have had access to otherwise
- A women reports a rape that never happened as a cry for help akin to attempted suicide
These scenarios and others occur with surprising regularity, but naysayers point to statistics which purportedly show that false sexual assault allegations are rare – between 2 and 10% according to studies like this one:
However even statisticians, prosecutors and law enforcement officials would probably admit (perhaps only off the record) that the number of cases that involve lying about rape may be much higher.
For argument’s sake let’s err on the high side.
Would anyone call 10% a “low” number?
They shouldn’t, and in a society in which women are typically seen as more believable and trustworthy than men it’s especially dangerous.
What Constitutes Consent?
Though legitimate victims, rape counselors, and outspoken proponents of women’s rights would scoff at the notion, sometimes what constitutes “consent” and lying about rape can be hazy.
Of course, we can all agree that “NO MEANS NO.”
That said, it’s important to make a distinction between cases of actual rape in which the female victim clearly didn’t give consent, and those in which she did, or at least may have.
While there’s no such thing as a “gray area” in instances of the former, with the latter there may be, especially when drugs and/or alcohol were used by both parties.
But when a woman consents to sex before and while under the influence of either, does it give her a legitimate rape claim later based on the fact that she probably wouldn’t have consented if she’d been sober at the time?
No, it certainly doesn’t.
Equality, But Only When it’s Convenient
Augusta University’s website makes the following claims under the heading RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ALCOHOL USE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT PERPETRATION –
One might assume that when men are drinking heavily at bars and parties on college campuses and elsewhere, that women are too – and willingly.
When men set out to get women drunk with the intent of having sex with them later through force or trickery it’s unsavory to say the least, but if both parties are consenting adults imbibing alcohol freely, in an establishment where most people are known to be looking to “hook up”, couldn’t the women have chosen not to drink or remove themselves from that environment altogether?
Of course being under the influence is never an excuse for a man forcing himself on a woman, but claiming that rapists frequently get women drunk in order to have sex with them implies that women have absolutely no defense against this age old tactic.
Sadly, it’s yet another example of society treating women like children.
Augusta University’s website also states that –
“Alcohol consumption by perpetrators and victims tend to co-occur – studies show that in anywhere from 81% to 97% of alcohol-related sexual assaults, both the victim and perpetrator had consumed alcohol.”
In addition, it claims that “alcohol is the most commonly used date-rape drug.”
But there’s another distinction begging to be made.
The term “date-rape drug” conjures images of women being tricked or forced into consuming something against their will. But unlike with drugs, with alcohol that’s nearly impossible.
Nonetheless, the data shouldn’t be construed as proof that victims of actual assault are to blame.
In fact the website states that “it is NEVER the victim’s fault.”
But on the flipside, in cases of false accusation it should ALWAYS be the “victim’s” fault, and they should be held responsible for lying about rape.
Innocent Lives Ruined
Rape is a felony punishable by years in prison, but even when innocent men are cleared before legal proceedings begin or are exonerated after being convicted, false accusations have catastrophic consequences that rarely go away.
Here we’re talking about –
- The social stigma attached to rape (it’s akin to being a pedophile)
- Increased incidences of isolation, depression and suicide
- Unwillingness to trust
- Feelings of misogyny
- Reduced job opportunities
Yet some sources claim that it’s “no harm, no foul” if charges aren’t filed and men don’t actually spend time behind bars.
But this just doesn’t pass muster.
According to National Registry of Exonerations data collected since 1989, in the United States there were only 52 cases in which men convicted of sexual assault were later exonerated.
In comparison, during the same period nearly 800 previously convicted murderers were exonerated of their crimes.
Unless we subscribe to the adage that “justice always prevails,” we can safely assume that those wrongly accused of any crime aren’t freed 100% of the time.
Isn’t it possible – even probable – that the number is much lower, and that all over the country hundreds of innocent men accused of rape are languishing in prisons surrounded by real criminals?
Tougher Laws – Fewer False Accusations
According to Neal Davis Law Firm, mistakenly accusing someone of a sex crime isn’t illegal.
However, if the accuser believes that no crime was committed but reports it as such anyway, he or she may face civil and criminal charges.
In addition, intentionally giving police inaccurate details about an actual sex crime is the same as falsifying information.
Sadly, in most states those who make public accusations of rape but don’t actually report them to the authorities rarely face criminal charges – even if they’re false.
In other words, it’s okay to viciously slander someone (a man) to his friends, family and employer as long as the police aren’t involved.
According to the website of Houston criminal defense attorney Matthew D. Sharp, false accusations of sexual assault are on the rise.
His staff asked college students across the country what they thought the legal consequences should be for falsely accusing someone of a hate crime or sexual assault.
For many victims of rape, the physical damage pales in comparison to the emotional trauma.
Depending on the circumstances, lying about rape can be a crime, but in such cases accusers rarely get more than a slap on the wrist.
Strengthening existing laws to hold phony “victims” accountable would be a great first step in stemming the tide of this increasingly common phenomenon.