False Allegations — the Lasting Effect
A Q&A with the Anonymity Movement
I had a great opportunity to have a quick chat with Ben Rist, the man behind the “Anonymity Movement.” Discussing false allegations can be a mixed bag. On the one hand it is very difficult to go over the events again, on the other hand, knowing you’re talking to someone who really understands what it feels like to go through it can be reassuring. Here’s our chat.
Colin — “Tell us about the Anonymity Movement, what it’s about, and why it matters.”
Ben — “Currently, everybody who accuses someone of sexual assault or domestic violence gets anonymity, however those who are accused currently don’t have any anonymity. The press have reported names of those falsely accused so many times, and these are accusations that can have serious consequences for the accused.”
Colin — “What can you tell us about your personal experiences?”
Ben — “I was falsely accused of ‘sexual assault by penetration’ in May 2017. I was arrested and spent twelve hours in custody, not knowing who, what, where, when... The anxiety jetting through my body was real. When the officer told me, knowing I was innocent, the emotion turned to anger. Four months of my life on hold because of it, until I received my ‘No Further Action
Colin — “Can you describe the lasting effects of the experience?”
Ben — “I have had mental health issues for years, even before the allegation, but it has taken it’s toll and had a major impact on my mental health. My anxiety over Christmas 2017 went through the roof, to a point where I wouldn’t go out. There were new voices affecting my psychosis, and it’s only now that I’m getting help and started to deal properly with the scars left.
Colin — “Was anyone else also a victim of this allegation?”
Ben — “Yes. My family, my friends: especially my friends as I’m around them more. My friends fortunately knew me better than to believe the accusation, but some of my friends are like family and got angry — almost as angry as me. I had one friend leave but that was for almost a month, and not because she believed it. Her boyfriend at the time was my false accuser’s sister’s best friend. She was threatened by his mum that if she talked to me, she couldn’t talk to him. A month later, she broke up with him and admitted to me that her worst mistake was choosing him over me. People don’t seem to realise the effect that ‘believing all allegations without question’ actually causes.”
Colin — “I’m interested by your point about believing all allegations. What do you mean? Surely you can’t think every accuser is lying?”
Ben — “I don’t think every accuser is lying. I do, however, know false allegations happens through personal experience and how they can impact on someone. The lasting effect is real and damaging.”
Colin — “Thank you for the chat, Ben.”
Links to other Blog posts
You might also be interested to read a little more on my blog about the promotion week “Independents Day” where I explain the importance of the 4th of July to me: No Smoke and the 4th of July.
Another blog of interest, which touches on the correct uses of the terms “victim” and “allegation” or “accusation: When is a “Victim” not a “Victim”?