Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Understanding Motivations Behind Filing False Rape Allegations

Khryss | Published 2017-02-25 01:18
Rape is one of the most controversial topics today. This previously taboo subject has received a lot of support lately especially on encouraging victims to give justice to themselves and bring this in court. But what if the allegations are false? What if the “victim” isn’t actually the one being offended here? This possibility has caught the attention of a group of researchers, leading them to understand further why people file a false allegation of rape. This is very significant since the false accusation can cause big problems to all parties involved, damaging one’s well-being in general. The study utilized 57 cases of false allegations of rape with all women over the age of 14 as false complainants. So, why would an individual consciously and intentionally file a false allegation? In the proposed list, complainants file a false allegation out of material gain, emotional gain, or that they “just don’t know”. Results showed that the primary motivation for this is the emotional gain (attention, revenge, sympathy, alibi, relabeling, and regret) with 60% of the respondents answering this way. Under this, almost one in four complainants reasoned out that they did such to just cover up their behavior (i.e. alibi in adultery, lateness, consensual sex, and skipping school or work placement). 18% of complainants also used the false allegation to gain sympathy or attract attention. Five of them used it as revenge or to retaliate against a rejecting male; three complainants did it for the regret of a consensual sex and two for the regret and shame of engaging in group sex activities. Additionally, two of them chose to just relabel such previously consensual sexual encounter as rape. However, only one complainant did it for material gain. It also appeared that not all complainants knew why they had filed a false allegation with 21% claiming that they did not know. These reasons presented aren’t actually necessarily inclusive and sometimes overlap with each other. While the results of this study are valid, it is still insufficient to explain all of the possible intentions as to why individuals do such stressful actions. But this can be a start to understanding and preventing future false allegations by giving a probable list of explanations that can later on be widened.
Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!