If you have just been wrongfully accused of sexual abuse read ‘I have been falsely accused, what happens next?’ and phone our HELPLINE
Calls to the helpline will be answered by a firm of solicitors. These solicitors specialize in bespoke defence legal services to professionals and those in public positions of responsibility who are vulnerable to wrongful allegations of sexual abuse. Please be aware that they can only advise people from England and Wales, because they don’t have expertise in the legal systems of other countries. Although FACT is sympathetic to those who have been falsely accused of offences other than sexual abuse, we do not have the expertise to help in those situations.
If you prefer not to use the helpline you could email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SUFFERING OF THE WRONGFULLY ACCUSED
FACT abhors abuse of children and adults whether sexual, physical or emotional. However not all allegations of abuse are true, false allegations may be made for a variety of reasons and are not necessarily made maliciously. Wrongful allegations have a devastating effect on the falsely accused and their families. The accused can lose their reputations, their careers, their health and even their freedom. When an allegation of child abuse is made there is always a victim, either the complainant or the accused.
‘I have never visited the GP so many times in my life. I went into a state of shock for some weeks after my arrest… I suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harming, fear, immense anger against the police and my accuser and anger at the lack of support from anyone in authority … I suffer stress-related physical pain and shaking. Nightmares. I was very close to suicide on at least three occasions.’
From The Impact of Being Wrongly Accused of Abuse in Occupations of Trust: Victims’ Voices
‘ . . . you’ve suddenly been labelled like a leper … and the moment that you’ve been labelled as this, nobody will come near you. And being falsely accused of child abuse was very much the same, where you can never get back to where you were before. There’s always going to be that element of doubt with everybody. Even if you were later cleared, you still can’t get rid of that trauma and the way that your life has been changed by it. It’s devastating’ (A member of FACT)
Watch the film entitled ‘We Believe You’ which is a powerful documentary about the experiences of various people who have been wrongfully accused.
WHAT WE DO
We are here to offer support to people who presently or have previously worked in positions of trust and who are victims of wrongful allegations of abuse. There are many ways in which we provide this support, you can find out more about what we do here.
The following is an extract from a research paper from Oxford University Centre for Criminology (The Impact of Being Falsely Accused of Abuse in Occupations of Trust , p.54 in section on Coping Mechanisms) and is evidence of the quality of the support provided by FACT.
Given the fear and risk of being judged by others who might not understand their predicament, it is unsurprising that the majority (22 of 30) of participants cited FACT as a source of support specifically because FACT members can relate to others facing the same struggles. At FACT they can ‘speak directly to someone who had been through it’ (Rebecca).
Marcus, who was not allowed to discuss the allegations with anyone he worked with, explained that ‘It was scary but reassuring to meet people who were prepared to listen, and genuinely understood what I was going through… Few of my family or friends knew what was happening.’ Instead of seeking professional support at his workplace, the focus of his abuse allegation, he ‘engaged with FACT, [which] has in many ways helped me to rebuild the understanding that I was the victim of a terrible crime’.
It’s not just the victim of a false allegation that suffers, relatives and friends are in the firing line too.
“my wife …. was really touched with how kind everyone was and how welcome everyone made her feel. It was the first time she hasn’t felt alone in this awful situation.” (Comment made by a member whose wife attended our conference)
KEY REPORTS AND DOCUMENTS
Here you can access important material concerning the background to wrongful allegations and how to cope with them.
The Oxford University Study, ‘The Impact of Being Wrongly Accused Accused of Abuse in Occupations of Trust; Victims Voices’
‘Robbed of Everything’: The Voices of Former Prisoners Maintaining Innocence though Convicted of Sexual Offences, and of their Relatives. Burnett (DPhil Social Psychology, Oxford) and Speechley (PhD Criminal Justice, Manchester)
Coping strategies used by FACT members suffering a false allegation of child abuse (2018)
Presumed Guilty: A FACT Briefing document
The Henriques Report on Operation Midland
BACKGROUND TO WRONGFUL ALLEGATIONS
Here are some articles that provide further information concerning the phenomenon of wrongful allegations.
Why it is too easy for innocent people to be wrongly accused of sexual abuse (originally published by the Justice Gap, written by Dr Ros Burnett)
How do wrongful allegations happen?
How common are wrongful allegations?
Miscarriages of Justice Registry compiled by Exeter University Law School
The phenomenon of false memories.
RELATED ORGANISATIONS AND SOURCES OF INFORMATION
You can find a list of related organisations here.
You do not need to suffer alone, call our HELPLINE (see sidebar) or email us at email@example.com