There is a dangerous tendency in society to assume that when a girl reports her boyfriend, friend, father, brother has abused, raped or hit her to assume she’s lying. She has an agenda and she is out to do harm to the man she is accusing. There is no denying that these false accusations do happen and yes it’s tragic for everyone when it does, but we must remember that false accusations are much rarer than the men who like to point them out would have you believe. To go in with the assumption that an accusation is false leads young women every day into being too frightened to push ahead and, thus, rapists are free and women are taking their lives following the depression that comes from the initial abuse and the subsequent lack of trust that follows it.
Both false accusations (rare) and the lack of belief in accusations (common) are a massive disservice to everything I believe in.
False accusations slap every woman in the face who has truly been abused and not trusted. They add weight to the arguments put forward that women lie, women make things up, women aren’t to be trusted. However rare these cases are, every time one happens it will be seized and held onto as evidence against all innocent women who have been treated cruelly.
The lack of belief in accusations is what leads women to be crushed. Women’s bodies are assumed rightfully violated because there will be justification behind men taking what they want from a woman regardless of her opinion on it. Questions such as “What were you wearing?” and “Had you had sex with him before?” and “Were you attracted to him?” put the blame squarely on the victim and not the abuser.
With the weight of this reality behind me, I am facing the dawn of my two year old daughter learning to lie, and my two year old step son both being wrongly and rightfully accused.
Miss Rose has learned that getting Z into trouble is fun because he gets told off and she gets to gloat. Her agenda is simple, either make Z do something naughty and tell on him, or just make something up. She doesn’t do often, but enough that we have noticed it and are taking it seriously.
This morning I have witnessed both genuine crimes and made up crimes.
From the kitchen we witnessed Miss Rose whisper “chase me Z” then as he chased after her she ran to us screaming and crying because he was chasing her. Then, later, as they were squabbling over a toy, Z smacked her round the face. In the first instance he was innocent, in the second he was guilty. Had I not witnessed her initial instruction I would assume he was indeed doing something wrong, but I am starting to doubt it and starting to question whether or not her accusations are genuine and that troubles me deeply. I am troubled about giving him discipline for things he’s been wrongly accused of, and I am troubled by questioning her accusations which may make her doubt her safety in coming to me when things happen.
I need to trust her, and I need her to respect what that trust means.
At two years old there is no way of explaining to her the sanctity of trust in accusations, the dangers of victim blaming, and the damage done to women everywhere when false accusations are found to have happened. There is also no way she can comprehend why what she’s doing has such potential long term damage, she is thinking short term, it’s a simple “it’s funny when Z’s in trouble and I’m not” and, in her defence, he is starting to reach the same stage and get her into trouble when he gets a chance.
Currently our approach is to assume the accuser, of either gender, is telling the truth unless witnessed otherwise. But we do question and she will usually tell the truth.
“Z hit me”
“What happened before Z hit you?”
“I pushed Z”
“Z hit me”
“What happened before Z hit you?”
“I play with toy”
Fine. We can get to the truth, either one or both is made to apologise, and we can ask Z.
“Z, did you hit Rose?”
“Yeah, on head”
This level of honesty and the knowledge they can both come to us when something bad happens, and tell us the truth about their own wrong doings, is something I am desperate to cling to. I also am hopeful that the lying about the other one’s misdoings can be weeded out fast. Very fast.
I want my daughter to grow up in a society where if she tells me, her dad, the police about something terrible being done to her then the question doesn’t need to be “Did you ask for it?” or “Are you lying?” and can be “Are you okay, how can I help?” The only way that can happen is if we teach our children the dangers of false accusations from the beginning, make them respect the value in the truth and honesty, and teach them they can come to us regardless of whether they’re guilty or innocent of anything.
My faith in her to be honest will breed her faith in me to trust her, and that is something I will work for every single day and she is never to young to start learning it.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!