Around the country, there are cases involving police officers accused of attempting to bully victims into admitting they made up their rapes — a not uncommon practice that has fueled “false rape” statistics.

“False rape” is brought up often by men’s rights activists, who generally fear that women — motivated by revenge, or perhaps just regretting sleeping with a man — could use a jury’s sympathy to falsely convict men of rape. But this thinking isn’t limited to MRAs; Heisman winner Jameis Winston’s alleged victim was accused by some in the Florida State community of trying to destroy his career.

But the reality of “false rape” accusations is clear: A woman lying to law enforcement about her assault is both statistically infrequent and difficult to prove. The FBI has called attempts to organize it under one statistic meaningless. There is no formal record of false rape accusations — they do happen, just not often.

False rape statistics

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On college campuses — where one in five women are assaulted — only one in eight report it. That’s because college-aged victims often don’t “see the incidents are harmful or important enough” or “[want] family or other people to know.” They feel restricted by “lack of proof,” “fear of reprisal by the assailant, fear of being treated with hostility by the police, and anticipation that the police would not believe the incident was serious enough and/or would not want to be bothered with the incident,” according to a 2000 National Institute of Justice study.

Even for victims who do end up reporting their assault through police, there’s no guarantee the assailant will be convicted. Rape kits are backlogged by the thousands across the U.S., and as a recent White House report explains, “even when arrests are made, prosecutors are often reluctant to take on rape and sexual assault cases.”

In the military — where one in three women are assaulted by their fellow service members — the fear of reporting is intensified by chain of command, according to a Department of Defense survey. The DoD found that 62% of women who reported their assaults suffered retaliation for it. According to findings presented in the documentary Invisible War, 33% of servicewomen didn’t report their assaults because “the person to report to was a friend of the rapist,” while 25% didn’t report because “the person to report to was the rapist.”

According to RAINN, only about 3% of rapists are ever sentenced to prison. In the military, according to Invisible War, only 2% are convicted.

Reporting rape

Rape culture and the friendzone

I am going to start this post by including a trigger warning; this post involves many references to rape itself, rape culture and victim shaming. I will be talking about some statistics about rape in Ireland and USA. I will be outlining some of the problems of rape culture too. Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive guide by any means. For instance, I deal mainly with victims of rape who are female and I don’t really go in to what is and isn’t consent, but you can find a great post about that here.

With products such as the above ribbed anti-rape condom or hairy-legs stockings for women to wear at night, the message is that women should protect themselves — or in the case of the leggings, make women less sexually attractive to men — rather than “men, be careful to respect the personal and sexual boundaries of a woman.”

The Globe and Mail’s Emma Woolley covered the sad state of anti-rape wear, writing, “ultimately we have to face that this is the state of things: Some women have bought so completely into the inevitability of sexual assault that they are turning to anti-rape devices for security.”

men, be careful to respect the personal and sexual boundaries of a woman.

From an excellent explainer of rape culture on Shakesville:

Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.