Our nation’s domestic violence laws seem to operate on the belief that even minor cases of partner conflict should be brought to the attention of law enforcement personnel, claiming that reporting such incidents will prevent escalation of the conflict. (Note that overly-intrusive actions of law enforcement may have the opposite effect, contributing to a worsening of partner conflict.)

This belief gives rise to a number of policies and practices that promote false accusations:

  1. Broad definitions of domestic “violence” – Civil definitions of domestic violence include ill-defined and non-violent actions such as causing “annoyance,” making your partner “afraid,” and engaging in “harassment.”
  2. No need for evidence – Domestic violence service providers, law enforcement personnel, and prosecutors are all instructed to “always believe the victim,” even though the accuser has no evidence or proof of violence.
  3. Victim advocates – Domestic violence programs hire “victim advocates” who coach persons with minor problems how to present and embellish their complaints to enhance their chances of getting a restraining order.
  4. Incentives to make false allegations – Persons who are identified as “victims” are entitled to a broad range of services and legal benefits:
    • Sole use and possession of the residence
    • Child custody
    • Reimbursement for counseling, medical care, and even attorney’s fees
    • Priority in receiving Title VIII low-cost housing and eligibility for other welfare services
  5. Biased training – Domestic violence laws fund the training of judges, prosecutors, and others. Such training programs openly encourage judges to “err on the side of caution,” rather than assure due process protections are met. Judicial seminars often promote misleading statistics that stereotype men as abusers and women as victims.
  6. No-drop prosecution – When false accusers see the effects of their claim, they sometimes recant (disavow) their previous accusation. But prosecutors often reject accusers’ disavowal and pursue the case.
  7. Prosecutor reluctance – Prosecutors are known to be resistant to charge perjurers with a criminal offense. So persons know they can make false accusations without fear of consequence.

SAVE Special Report:

Incentives to Make False Allegations of Domestic Violence.

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