When a false accusation is made the accused is innocent, the accuser is making a false accusation. When false accusations are made lives are destroyed – the lives of the falsely accused and the lives of their families.
False allegations of rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse can be made for a variety of reasons. Regret, revenge, parental custody, seeking financial compensation, seeking legal aid in family separation and blackmail are some commonly seen motivations.
Allegations of rape and sexual assault are almost the only area of English law where a prosecution can take place in the absence of any physical evidence. The testimony of an accuser may be all that is required to secure conviction. Victims of false accusation feel powerless and often feel that they are assumed guilty by the police, the CPS, friends, family and the general public.
A complainant of rape or sexual assault by law has indefinite anonymity (unless they disclose their identity themselves) – even if the accusation is found to be false. The accused however has no right to anonymity – even if the accusation is found to be false. Victims of a false accusation feel incredibly vulnerable and when details of the case are disclosed to the public it isn’t uncommon for victims of false accusation to receive secondary and further false accusations. Victims of false accusation often find themselves on the receiving end of abuse, threats and public humiliation.
Sense of injustice
A complainant of rape or sexual assault may receive financial compensation – they will usually not be required to repay the compensation if the accusation is found to be false. They may however be charged with wasting police time or perverting the course of justice. In reality the punishments for false accusers are often mild and more usually involve suspended prison sentences and fines. In contrast a victim of false accusation is not entitled to compensation and may only be able to reclaim expenses such as travel costs (this does not include legal fees). Victims of false accusation often feel angry due to feelings of injustice and unfairness of process.
When a person is accused of rape or sexual assault they are likely to be immediately arrested and can be held in a police cell for several hours. They will undergo invasive procedures to collect DNA evidence. Victims of false accusation often feel violated themselves and feel that they are treated as a guilty sexual offender – guilty until proven innocent.
Increasingly it is being reported that women are being encouraged to make false allegations of domestic abuse and file for non-molestation orders against their partners in order to receive legal aid or gain access to social housing.
Some men can wait for years from being arrested to receiving a final outcome, whether it be an NFA (No Further Action) or a court verdict. Victims of false accusation find their entire lives on hold. During this time they may lose their job, their family and friends and their homes. It is not uncommon for men in this position to find themselves homeless.
Victims of false accusation often feel hopeless, powerless and suicidal. They can continue to experience high levels of anxiety and depression years after their ordeal is concluded in law.