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Commentary: False accusations are few and far between

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Jocelyn Arceo, Editor in Chief

Jocelyn Arceo, Editor in Chief

Over the course of the year, I have come across several tweets made by outraged users regarding the seemingly prevalent “narrative,” as some users have defined it, of false rape accusations. Many of the claims began in February after former Baylor University linebacker Shawn Oakman was found falsely accused of rape. 

One tweet, made by Twitter user @chrissyykat, stated, “This HAS to stop!! He didn’t even get an NFL opportunity because SHE lied. I’m so sick of this narrative.” This led me to ask, “what narrative?” 

The only narrative present is the one where victims of sexual assault are made to feel as though false reporting is far more common than it actually is, which only then silences victims out of fear. 

Unfortunately, the tweet gained immense traction with over 32,000 retweets and 74,000 favorites, meaning too many users agree with the narrative that this user believes is more prevalent than it actually is. 

This “narrative” that the user was referencing only happens 2% to 10% of the time. In addition, about 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. 

College campuses in particular have a running record of victim-blaming and silencing those who come forward. 

The 2015 CNN Films documentary, “The Hunting Ground,” focuses on the process college students go through when reporting rape on their campus.

Hope Brinn, a student from Swarthmore College featured in the film, recounted her own experience of reporting her assault when a faculty member said, in regards to her alleged rapist, “You don’t know what he’s going through right now and neither do I. He could be really having a hard time.”

Another student, Annie Clark from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told viewers that when she told an administrator about her rape, the response she got was an analogy that related rape to a football game.

“She looks at me and was like, ‘Rape is like a football game, Annie, and if you look back on the game, what would you do differently in that situation?’” Clark said in the film.

As many as 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report their assault, according to the NSVRC. Victim-blaming causes many survivors of sexual assault to feel as though what happened was their fault, contributing massively to the underreporting of this crime. 

However, victim-blaming is not the only contributing factor; many victims feel as though they will be seen as liars. Ultimately, they would rather not face the humiliation and further psychological consequences of having to relive their trauma only for it to be dismissed.

What so many fail to realize is that although false reporting has happened in the past, and will continue to happen as often as the false reporting of many other crimes, there is a serious issue with inflating false reports. 

The inflation of false reporting has led to an abundance of people across the nation who truly believe that a victim, more often than not, is lying about their sexual assault, especially when an athlete is involved.

With the inflation of these very minimal false reports, many have called for legal action to be taken against those who are found to be lying. 

My response to that is: where are the legal consequences for those who actually do commit sexual assault? 

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, out of every 1,000 rapes committed, 995 perpetrators will walk free.

Instead of taking action against those who are committing the crime, society has decided to pressure survivors into staying silent. Inflating the rate of false reports is just another scare tactic used to make victims rethink whether or not they should report their assault at all. 

Many victims, after hearing the comments made by those around them regarding the so-called “narrative” of false reporting, are terrified to come forward because they feel as though nobody will believe them. 

This is a valid fear, considering how sexual assault cases are treated. Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who accused Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape, had to watch her alleged rapist take a seat in the “highest court in the land.”

All in all, this “narrative” of false reporting does not exist. This call to action to try and obtain litigation in regards to those who are found lying is just another way to enforce the ever-so-prevalent rape culture within our society, thus leading to the reason why so many survivors of sexual assault are reluctant to ever share their story.

Do not fall for this falsely inflated fallacy of false reporting. It is doing more harm than good to those who need so desperately to be heard, listened to and believed. 

This is not to say that false reporting does not happen at all; it does 2% to 10% of the time. 

However, maybe we should all work on doing some initial research before believing the scare tactics deliberately put in place to belittle victims into not reporting. 

Jocelyn Arceo, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at jocelyn.arceo@laverne.edu and on Twitter @jociefromulv.

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