Episode #23: Fear of False Accusations – Engage by Uplift

Hi everyone, I'm Kat Lazo of TheeKatsMeoww and welcome to another episode of Engage by Uplift, a video series aimed at having real talk for real chang

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Hi everyone, I’m Kat Lazo of TheeKatsMeoww and welcome to another episode of Engage by Uplift, a video series aimed at having real talk for real change when it comes to sexual assault. For most of this series, we’ve focused on what to do in the event of a sexual assault. But today, we’re not talking about people who fear an assault, but rather people who fear an accusation.

The good news is that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be accused of rape. In fact, even if you’re a man, you’re more likely to get raped than to be falsely accused. But even with this knowledge, you still might not rest easy. After all, it does happen, and being falsely accused of rape is a very big deal. We here at Uplift know that, and we don’t take it lightly, Which is why, in today’s episode, we’re going to dispel some myths about false accusations. How Often Does This Happen REALLY? The best data on false accusations is that they’re between 2-8% of all reported rapes and sexual assaults, which is similar to other crimes. Keep in mind that this is reported assaults, not all of them. Sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in the United States, so that distinction is a big deal.

To put it in perspective, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that there were 284,345 sexual assaults in 2014. Of those, only 95,420 were reported to the police. This means that the actual amount of false accusations in 2014 is somewhere between 1,908 and 7,633. So yeah, it can happen, but it’s happening to less than 8,000 people a year. And over that same stretch of time, nearly 285,000 people were sexually assaulted. But Isn’t It A False Accusation Any Time That There Isn’t A Conviction? There is a difference between false accusation and lack of conviction. A false accusation is someone who pretends to be a victim and fabricates a story and names an innocent person as their attacker. An acquittal can happen because of lack of evidence, wrong type of evidence, technicalities in the court, or community bias. If there isn’t physical evidence of the crime, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the victim is lying. It just means that the evidence wasn’t collected. How Can You Tell If An Accusation Is False? Generally, you can’t at first. And this is partially why courts exist at all.

Any time there is an accusation, the police are supposed to investigate that claim in order to determine what happened, and then they send those results to a prosecutor. The biggest problem with sexual assault and the police right now is that many claims aren’t even investigated. In one study, the police threw out 33% of reports based on their “gut feeling” that the reports were false. And no one ever looked into whether or not there was evidence.

Even worse, there’s a massive backlog of rape kits that have never been tested. So even when there is evidence, there’s no guarantee that anyone’s going to look into it. With these basic barriers to prosecuting, survivors get the message that maybe it’s not worth pursuing legal action. If They’re Rare, Why Do I Hear About False Accusations So Much? People maintain the myth that people — especially women — are always lying and crying rape for many reasons. The first is fear. Sexual predators are often normal seeming men and not what the media has portrayed sexual predators to sound, act like, and look like. And a lot of guys are afraid that if those normal seeming men can be accused, then so can they. And another reason is that as a culture, we’ve told boys and men that it’s their job to take control of a relationship, and to make the first move when it comes to a woman. And at the same time, we’re denying teenagers good, comprehensive sex education. So we’re leaving men hanging by telling them that they’re the ones in charge, but then not telling them how and when to get consent, and how to recognize when boundaries are being crossed.

If you don’t have sex with people who don’t want to have sex with you, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be accused. Can I Protect Myself From Being Accused? Yes, and the best way to protect yourself from an accusation is to practice getting enthusiastic consent. If you’re unsure of what that means, these videos may help you out, and the links will also be in the description box down below. If someone isn’t sure that they want to have sex with you, take it as a no. And if someone is nervous, slow down and talk about it. Ask questions and build trust; don’t manipulate or trick someone into saying yes. No one can be enthusiastic if they’re being tricked.

Don’t have sex with people who are too drunk to drive, or incapacitated in any other way. It’s only hard to practice enthusiastic sex if you think that women are reluctant to have sex, and you need to employ deliberate strategies to “win” access to their bodies. People who hold this belief behave like predators, and their actions can cross the line into an assault. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to play all those games and you treat all your sexual partners with respect, then you know that you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself in a sexual situation. If you practice enthusiastic consent and you’re still being accused of an assault, it will be easier for you to defend yourself and prove that your partner consented. Alright folks, that’s it for this week! Thank you so much for watching. Hopefully you got a lot out of this video. Don’t forget to comment down below anything you found interesting, or to follow us on social media and interact with us there. Let’s just continue the conversation outside of this video! As always, I’m Kat Lazo of TheeKatsMeoww, ’til next time..

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