Self-Defense & Violence Prevention Blog

news and commentary about security, self-defense, and topics like violent crime prevention and bullying

The Prevalence of False Accusations

In my recent article, The Danger of False Accusations, I call false accusations of sexual victimization one of the greatest hindrances to the active opposition to sexual victimization. In the article, I contend that men tend to rightfully fear false accusations, and thus hesitate to support (one-sided) anti-rape and anti-sexual-assault programs.

Many people – mostly women – questioned the commonness or danger of false accusations, and thus questioned the rightfulness of men’s fear. However, numerous statistics exist on the matter:

According to a nine-year study conducted by former Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin, in over 40 percent of the cases reviewed, the complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred (“Archives of Sexual Behavior,” Vol. 23, No. 1, 1994). Kanin also studied rape allegations in two large Midwestern universities and found that 50 percent of the allegations were recanted by the accuser.

Read entire article by Glenn Sacks.

According to Linda Fairstein, who heads the NYC District Attorney’s Sex Crime Unit, about half of all reported rape claims are false.

According to a 1996 Department of Justice Report, of approximately 10,000 sexual assault cases analyzed with DNA evidence, 2,000 excluded the primary suspect.

Wendy McElroy is the editor of and author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century. And, Wendy Mcelroy says that, “False accusations are not rare. They are common.

Glenn Sacks describes the damage false accusations can cause by saying:

…rape is a horrible crime. But false accusations of rape are every bit as horrible. They are a form of psychological rape that can emotionally, socially, and economically destroy a person even if there is no conviction, especially for those of less fame and fortune than Bryant. The stigma attaches to the falsely accused for life. Few believe them and few care. Prosecutors systematically refuse to prosecute the perpetrators. And victims’ advocates like Murphy refuse to see falsely accused men as victims, and instead work to minimize and conceal the problem.

Most often false accusers aim their accusations at men. While the media and activist organizations tend to pressure men to sympathize with the threat women face of being sexually victimized, these same women seem to care little about the justified fear men have of false accusations. Even without a conviction, a false accusation can ruin a person’s life, financially, emotionally, and socially.

Unless anti-rape and anti-sexual-assault activists and organizations respect the prevalence of false accusations and the damage they cause men, these activists will fail. Men tend to fear false accusations as women tend to fear sexual victimization. I want to stop both sexual victimization and false accusations. I want to stop, prosecute, and jail both false accusers and sexual victimizers. To do that successfully, we all must work together to find ways to simultaneously prevent both false accusations and sexual victimizations.

Since one side fears false accusations and the other fears sexual victimizations, any organization that takes a one-sided approach and comes out fervently against only one of these problems meets with opposition from the other side. In contrast, an organization which simultaneously fights to prevent both false accusations and sexual victimization can get cooperative support from both sides.

What do you think?

By | December 31st, 2006 | SHOW COMMENT(1)


I am the creator of this website, which I use to post about self-defense and violence prevention. I have two children who I love so much. I want them to be proud of me, and I hope what I do here contributes to that. Please let me know what you think about my posts by leaving a comment below. I throw my opinions around pretty openly here, but I am totally open to opposing viewpoints and a productive discussion. So please post a comment. And follow me on Twitter: @scottmhughes

One Response

  1. Will says

    Although I can respect the existence of false accusations, I do not believe a narrowing focus on this issue will tremendously impact violence in the world, which is something that you seem passionate about. I do believe that if we look at masculinity in our culture today and really open up dialogue with other men about it and it’s connection to violence, that we (all those in the fight to end violence) will start to create that change. The fact is that women are being beaten, raped, and killed everyday, and it’s men who are doing the violence. So my sympathies go out to those men who have been falsely accused, but the issue of false accusations cannot take precedence or be made out to be just as important as the issue of sexualized violence. It is simply not on the same level. It is merely a part of the puzzle that needs to be talked about and understood. On that note I applaud your dedication to this aspect of sexualized violence. I hope you succeed in bringing more understanding to this aspect (while specific it is), and then maybe move on to the fight to change the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors (of men) that is allowing violence to continue.

    Thank you.


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