Domestic violence is rightly decried as abhorrent behavior and it is universally accepted that perpetrators of spousal and other domestic abuse should be punished to the full extent of the law. But heavy-handed laws, overzealous social workers and even well-meaning friends of alleged victims of abuse can create an environment where it is all too easy to falsely accuse a spouse or other cohabitant and cause serious damage to that person’s life. Even if the accused is later exonerated, often the damage to the persons reputation will be permanently colored in the eyes of their peers.
In many instances, false allegations are made by women who accuse a current or former spouse of abuse against themselves and children. A large number of these accusations come to light, not coincidentally, during custody or divorce proceedings. Some social workers estimate that as many as three in four allegations of abuse purportedly against women or children in the midst of litigation in the Family Court are spurious.
Facebook and Twitter and TikTok, Oh My!
The ease with which an individual is able to accuse someone of something (really anything) can provoke knee-jerk reactions across society that borders on a mob mentality. It’s not hard to imagine that in the wake of recent events, well-meaning citizens can be caught up in the heat of the moment and end up expressing what they’re feeling rather than what they actually know. And because that message can be amplified and accepted wholesale across a huge audience, the potential damage to the accused is serious even if the accused is later cleared of the claim.
Some high profile cases involving entertainment industry professionals haven’t helped. The #MeToo movement originated because of many of the egregious abuses within the Hollywood. It is a noble cause whose goal is to eradicate powerful members of the entertainment industry using sexual abuse as a weapon against the vulnerable and bring those guilty to justice. But, as with any broadly applied concept, the possibility of hijacking exists. Ask Johnny Depp. Youth are especially vulnerable to being influenced due to a never-ending tsunami of scandal that they receive over their social media feeds. They can see the power that simple words can have when multiplied across the megaphone of social media. And when it’s that easy, it is plausible to imagine someone saying to themselves, “What if…”
One of the most difficult habits to practice in our lives is to be alert to threats around us, even if they are unlikely to occur. If you perceive changes in personal relationships for the worse, it is prudent to stay alert to the possibility that someone close to you might not be the person you think they are. This is double true if you live with or are closely associated with that person. It is imperative that you seek legal assistance from a qualified lawyer immediately if you believe that someone could possibly accuse you privately or publicly of abuse or domestic violence.
The fallout from false accusations can be long reaching. Make sure that you secure competent legal counsel to protect you from traumatic consequences.
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