Yea, it’s a childish retort but it’s also the extent of the “punishment” you’d receive if you falsely alleged domestic violence or falsely report an incident of child abuse.
Whenever a debate about domestic violence arises, the “false allegation” argument is the second to be raised. (The first one, always, is “What about men?”)
Whenever these “counter points” to abuse are raised they’re rarely done so in a respectful, genuinely curious manner – for the most part I’ve watched them “served” (like in a game of tennis) with the expectation of a return volley. It’s not the questions that cast my doubt about the skeptic’s intention but the condescending “now I’ve put you on the spot” grin that accompanies the questions.
Those who ask these questions because they sincerely want to know accept the research-backed answers they’re given but those who ask “What about men? What about false allegations?” to engage in a debate show that they’re already “married to their own hypothesis”; in other words, they’re not seeking answers inasmuch as an audience.
When presented with the facts about men and DV and/or the actual rate of false abuse allegations, skeptics will laugh incredulously about what they’re being told, seemingly blind to the fact that the subject is truly no laughing matter. Here is what the skeptics find so hilarious:
- The majority of domestic violence victims are women. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/IPV_factsheet-a.pdf
- False allegations made by women and/or children account for only 2 – 8% of all abuse reports. http://www.florida-family-lawyers.com/site-index/site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.florida-family-lawyers.com/trishwilson/falsealleg.html
Despite these facts, skeptics will remain stubborn in their convictions that DV is an equal opportunity “two-way street” and that women are more likely to “make it all up” then be beaten up as they report. (The clincher for me is where the skeptics draw their conclusions from: NOT from credible, empirical research and scientific, longitudinal analysis but from un-nameable sources of knowledge that contain neither – they “just know”.)
Is this worth getting all upset about? Well, quite frankly, YES – because people’s lives are actually on the line here!
If you called 911 because your elderly mother just collapsed and appears to be having a heart attack, how would you feel if the operator responded by saying “More men have heart attacks then women so let’s not jump to conclusions here” or how about if the operator questioned your credibility?:
“Are you a doctor? No? How about any medical training? No? Then how can you call this a heart attack? Just because she thinks it is? I’m NOT going to dispatch an ambulance just because you and your mom THINK she’s having a ‘heart attack’. That’s an extreme assumption – let’s get that confirmed by a medical professional first because you’re really not an authority on heart attacks and you’re so emotionally charged about this situation that you may not be thinking clearly.”
Ridiculous responses, right? But DV victim-survivors are treated this way by skeptics all the time because of the myths that continue to be supported: DV is a two-way street and women falsely allege abuse.
False allegations of abuse are lodged against women and children all the time in the context of DV; women are accused of “being vindictive” or as “trying to get a leg up” in a custody dispute while children’s claims of abuse are explained away by science fictions and fallacies such as Parental Alienation Syndrome http://cincinnatipas.com/richardgardner-pas.html or False Memory Syndrome http://www.fmsfonline.org/.
Curiously something that’s frequently “overlooked” is who the person is raising the false allegations, and even more perplexing is when abuse is finally revealed or confirmed because the person who “cried wolf” to begin with gets “a free pass”.
If you called the police to falsely report a crime or the fire department to falsely report a fire, assuredly, there would be consequences. But falsely report child abuse or domestic violence? Nope, not a thing. And what kind of a person would falsely report child abuse or domestic violence?
The answer can be found in the book “Domestic Violence, Abuse, And Child Custody” under the chapter “Batterer Manipulation and Retaliation Compounded by Denial and Complicity in the Family Courts” by Joan Zorza:
“Not uncommonly, abusers set up their partners to look vulnerable and then report them to child protection agencies…”
”Abusers also increase the harm by making outrageous accusations as to what their victims supposedly did to them (whether false accusations of infidelity, or claiming that the women attacked them in particularly improbable ways).”
Actually, abusers lodging false allegations of domestic violence and child abuse are such a standard part of their MO and such a common tactic that several other books document this batterer behavior as well. (“The Batterer As Parent” by Lundy Bancroft & Jay Silverman; “Child Custody & Domestic Violence” by Peter Jaffe, Nancy Lemon & Samantha Poisson.)
Child abuse and domestic violence are as serious as a heart attack and as deadly as a house fire; reports are supposed to be made in good faith to save lives – just like calling 911. Responding to false alarms have cost lives which is why it’s so crucial to sort fact from fiction, to hold the guilty accountable and to protect the innocent from further harm.