Domestic violence is a real problem – but not every accusation matches up with the facts. False claims do happen.
According to a national survey, 8% of people in this country (11% of men and 6% of women) say that they’ve faced false accusations of some kind of abuse before. Why does this happen? Here are some of the most common reasons:
Revenge or retaliation
Someone may make false accusations as a way to get back at their partner or spouse for perceived wrongs – such as a suspected (or actual) affair.
Custody or divorce proceedings
In contentious divorce or custody cases, one party may make false accusations to gain an upper hand in court or to limit the other party’s access to their children. They may also do it just to force their spouse to leave the family home.
Cover-ups and deflection
In some cases, people who have engaged in abusive behavior may falsely accuse their partner of abuse in an attempt to shift blame or to preemptively discredit their partner’s claims. The goal is usually to make the victimized partner seem like a liar.
Attention or sympathy
Some people make false accusations to gain attention, sympathy or support from friends, family, or the community. People with certain mental health issues, such as borderline personality disorder, may make false accusations of interpersonal violence as part of their behavior patterns.
A domestic violence accusation can be utterly devastating to you on many different levels. It can damage your reputation in your community, affect your professional relationships, force you out of your home and put barriers between you and your children – and that’s before you deal with the possibility of a conviction. If you’ve been falsely accused, find out more about your potential defenses.