On previous shows, we've discussed some aspects of the issue of false accusations; Title-IX-supported kangaroo courts on university campuses, false accusations as a tool of abuse, and their use as a weapon in custody cases. They can also be used, as described in a letter to the badgers published this morning, as a tool of social manipulation. All too often, the accuser faces no consequence, while the accused struggles to prove his innocence.
Most MRAs have heard Always Be Recording as a rule of ensuring a guy has evidence against a lie. On the surface it’s great advice, and it’s saved our asses more than once, but it's not always possible to follow it. A variety of issues can contribute to that - local laws, lack of resources, noise interference, and equipment failure can all interfere. That doesn't detract from the value of recording when you can use it. It just means there's more to defending yourself than one method of documentation - and documentation is one key to defeating any lie.
Another is foresight, particularly recognition of red flag behavior that can indicate that it’s unwise to make yourself vulnerable. Accountability issues, oversensitivity, entitled behavior, melodrama, and social climbing all indicate a willingness to throw others under the bus in one’s own self-interest.
Is she always under attack by someone, or in the middle of a conflict? Is her own gossip-mongering one of the reasons?
That’s a red flag.
Does she surround herself with people she can use as social currency? A social mercenary who seems to love whoever can help her move up the ladder will still be just as mercenary when the greatest reward can be obtained by stepping on them.
Just ask Bill Cosby.
Don’t trust anyone who expects you to accept a different standard of communication or respect for your boundaries than for hers. Don’t be alone with a woman whose boundary communication and recognition failure is childlike. It may seem cute until she finds your deal-breaker, and then you’ll find out what a problem child she can be.
Be wary if she reminds you every time you’re in conflict that she’s been physically or sexually abused in the past. Does she use bringing that up to avoid dealing with current issues? Does she bring it up for sympathy or other attention?
That’s a red flag, and you’re not an asshole for recognizing it as such.
Does she talk about having multiple abusive exes, not just disclose that, but converse about them? Does she wear their memory like a badge of long-suffering feminine courage?
That’s not just a red flag. It’s a flashing neon sign that says run, now.
A person may be building toward a false accusation if she goes from normal interaction with you to giving you the cold shoulder, if she goes from usually communicating with you directly to usually communicating through other people without cause, or if she goes from giving you normal benefit of the doubt to taking a consistently uncharitable view of your words or actions.
When you know someone you can’t completely avoid presents a risk, you can minimize contact, and try to limit what contact you cannot avoid to public interaction or text conversations.
If you have significant reason for concern with someone, record or archive interactions. When possible, use text-based communication methods like email and text messages rather than phone calls or in person discussion, because text is easier to legally archive. Don’t just take screenshots if you can help it. Use sites like archive.org, archive.is, and freezepage to provide you with something you can prove you didn’t manufacture. Back texts up on your computer, or use an SMS backup app.
Document your own behavior by keeping receipts and other records that show where you were.
Keep an appointment book noting the points in your daily schedule.
If you are falsely accused, break off all contact with the accuser, even if the accusation isn’t made in person. Attempts to remedy a misunderstanding can be taken as an effort to intimidate. Instead, gather your evidence and insulate yourself against further attack.
Don’t engage in gossip about the situation. It is okay to answer people who ask you about it by telling them that the accusation is untrue. Don’t concede to a middle ground that isn’t real. Someone feeling victimized doesn’t change your behavior from innocent to malevolent, or your intent to malicious. That said, don’t offer any other criticism of your accuser, either, as it will just be seen as an attack, and you’ll be treated as an abuser.
If your accuser involves law enforcement do not try to navigate the system without a lawyer. Don’t talk to police without your lawyer present, and don’t ignore your lawyer’s advice or objections to any questions. Keep in mind that, again, the situation is about your innocence, not your accuser. It’s reasonable to be angry and want to shame the person who lied about you, but acting on that won’t be productive, and could even make you look guilty.
Do organize your documentation related to the alleged incident, and do continue documenting any interaction you have that relates to the accuser, even if it is with someone else. Don’t discuss her or the allegations publicly, and especially don’t discuss either with any mutual acquaintances. Once police are involved, your battle is with the legal system, and any attempt to fight it socially could be used as evidence against you.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t accept the moral support of close loved ones. You don’t have to stop trusting people you know you can trust, and in fact may need to rely on them to help you avoid being vulnerable to further accusations. It can really help to have credible witnesses to your whereabouts and activities if you are dealing with a habitual false accuser.
You’re going to get angry, and you’re going to be afraid. Nobody likes to be lied about, and the prospect of legal repercussions can be chilling. What you can’t be is reckless. Remember in this situation that ultimately, your ability to prove the truth of the matter is your best weapon, and it should be the main focus of your efforts.