A false allegation of domestic violence can be a gut-wrenching experience. Without cause or warning, you feel you have been branded as the perpetrator of a heinous deed. Word of the accusation may leak out and your friends, co-workers, and family may begin to suspect the worst.
If you have children, you may be barred from seeing or even talking to your children. You worry that the relationship with your children is being harmed.
If you work in law enforcement, the military, or have a security clearance, you may find your career is sidelined until the case is settled. While you are out of your home, you may be startled to learn your partner is selling your personal items – and the judge doesn’t seem to care.
You may worry about the legal costs, other expenses, and possible loss of income while you take time off from work to defend yourself.
You find yourself plunged into an unfamiliar legal system that presumes the false accuser to be the “victim.” You find yourself under a microscope in which everything you say or do is held up to scrutiny. You wonder whatever happened to “due process” and “innocent until proven guilty.”
Many find dealing with the psychological trauma of the accusation the most difficult part. Understanding the five stages of the grief process can help put it in perspective:
- Denial – “This accusation can’t be happening to me.”
- Anger and rage – “When this is over, I’m going to make that bastard/bitch regret he/she ever did this.”
- Bargaining – “I’ll give him/her a call, say I’m sorry, and the whole nightmare will be over.”
- Self-pity – “Nothing I do will make a difference. It’s no use.”
- Acceptance – “I’m not going to let them push my buttons. I can handle whatever they may throw my way.”
Much of the effectiveness of your defense hinges on your ability to think clearly and present yourself as credible in the courtroom. Failing to deal with the emotional trauma can cause you to appear defensive and guilty.
These are ways to deal with the psychological impact of a false allegation:
- Talk to your attorney about your concerns (this discussion is protected by attorney-client privilege, so you can feel safe that the information you share will never be disclosed).
- Seek counseling from a mental health professional (this discussion may be protected by provider-patient privilege, although the exact laws vary by state).
- Discuss your feelings at a support group or with a trusted friend or family member. However, it is advisable to not discuss the specifics of your case, since the information you share is considered “discoverable” (which means the attorney of the false accuser could require you or the other person to reveal what you said.)
- Join an advocacy group of persons working to fix the unfair laws.
Do not become depressed or isolated in your own world. Stick with your exercise routine and do the things you like to do. Stay connected, stay involved. Never give up.
Need Help Now?
Call the Domestic Violence Hotline for Men and Women at 1-888-743-5754.
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