I was raped – and I’m sick of hearing about ‘false allegations’

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING for rape, sexual assault, victim-blaming.

I was raped. I don’t talk about it online much – or offline for that matter, because it was ten years ago in a hazy past I prefer to forget as much as I possibly can. I was eighteen – a young girl at the time, as I hadn’t discovered my transsexuality yet. I was raped by someone I knew, and nobody but my then-fiancé and my closest male friend believed me. Every other friend I had at the time rallied behind my rapist. Why? Partly because he was ‘a good guy’. Partly because I’d been drinking at the time. Partly because I had a reputation for promiscuity. And partly because ‘women cry rape all the time and it destroys lives’.

Well let me tell you something. I’d much rather be accused of rape with no basis for that accusation, than go through that again. I’d far rather be accused of any crime, and have my name ruined for that, than not only be raped, but then have my name dragged through the mud as a ‘false accuser’ because I had the temerity to speak out after the unspeakable happened to me. To say that false allegations of rape ‘destroy lives’ is a slap in the face to the women (and men) who have truly had their lives destroyed by rape.

What the people who bang on about “how important it is to stand against false accusations” don’t seem to realise is, there is no benefit to making a rape allegation when you haven’t been raped. Hell, there is no benefit to making a rape allegation when you have been raped. You will be disbelieved, if you go to the police you will be subjected to invasive and traumatic ‘rape kit’ examination, you will have every aspect of your behaviour, lifestyle and sexuality analysed by people who know nothing about you. You will be lambasted by society for daring to question a man’s right to put his penis inside you.

I was young and naïve, and I stupidly thought I would be believed when I spoke my truth. Had I known my name would be dragged through the mud, that I would lose almost everyone I was close to, I would not have told a single soul. I even, at one point, had an unidentified person shooting ball-bearings at the windows of the house I then shared with my fiancé. I have good reason to believe it was my rapist and a mutual ex-friend, trying to scare me into keeping quiet. I certainly didn’t go to the police, considering the reception I got from my friends and all the casual acquaintances who came to know of it.

When you talk about ‘false rape allegations’ like they are the most important part of the debates surrounding rape, sexual assault and consent, you are effectively reframing the debate to centre it around men (as the rape of women by men outstrips all other types of rape by an astronomical amount). You are telling raped people that they don’t matter. You are telling people that it is worse to be accused of rape than it is to experience rape.

When you overemphasise false rape allegations like they are the most important part of the debates surrounding rape, you are being a rape apologist. This ‘what about the men’ culture surrounding rape has to stop. What you are doing is reminding rape victims that everyone believes that women cry rape all the time, so there is no point in speaking their truths because they’re not going to be believed.

Even if the most important people in their lives believe them, they are going to lose people as well. Even if the police believe them, there probably won’t be enough proof to get it into court. And you are reminding them that because of this rape culture that privileges false allegations over actual experiences of rape, they have less than a 6% chance of achieving a conviction in court – that the whole thing relies on them being believed, and that most of society won’t believe them.

Because someone being acquitted of rape does not mean they are not guilty of rape. The victim deciding not to press charges, or recanting her (or his) story, does not mean that the accuser is not guilty of rape. The rape not being provable in court doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. A victim not pressing charges doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Sometimes, rape can absolutely be proven not to have happened. But lack of proof doesn’t mean lack of rape. It more often than not means a damn lucky rapist.

Yes, false rape allegations happen. Nobody is denying that. But they happen at a far, far lower rate than, say, accusations of rapes that actually happened that never get reported, tried or convicted. And to frame the debate as if the most important aspect is that some men get falsely accused, is misogynistic and a perpetuation of rape culture.

This is a repost from my old blog.