Why (We) Believe Victims Don’t Lie (with Special Guest Iris Vander Pluym)

(Please note: the amazing, snarktastically awesome Iris Vander Pluym [read her blog here!] contributed to this little blog post of mine. Her part will be in the color of royal purple [because that is the color of royalty and, apparently, sarcasm, so…].)

Also content warning for discussion of rape culture and victim-blaming. Same content warnings, as well as trigger warnings for direct discussion of rape, apply to all links here, as well.)

Very recently, I put up a post declaring my support for Amber Heard. You can read the post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and you should. One of the things I said was this:

I am on record as saying that I will always believe and stand with the victim until evidence comes out that they’re lying, because them actually lying is so incredibly rare that there’s no reason to entertain it; in our culture of victim-blaming, I do not believe that most people would think lying like this would be worth it.

In response I got a… fascinating comment, permanently languishing in moderation:

What make you think lying is rare among human beings in such situations as this?

Why didn’t you link to the police report?

Let’s start with that last one… Iris?

As the disingenuous commenter (who is apparently under the illusion that he’s clever) undoubtedly knows, Nathan didn’t “link to the police report” because there was no initial police report. And there was no initial police report, because Amber Heard declined to file one.

Now why on earth would she do that? Gosh, if only there were something like, I don’t know… maybe research? About the prevalence of non-reporting of domestic violence? Or perhaps the reasons victims give for declining to file police reports. It’s too bad there just isn’t anything like that. OH WAIT.

Based on the two most comprehensive analyses relied on by the U.S. Department of Justice in their recommendations for police, prosecutors and judges, rates of non-reporting for adult female victims of domestic violence range from about 37% to over 70%. But there is absolutely no dispute that it is vastly underreported. Well, among the people who know what they’re talking about anyway (which obviously doesn’t include our embarrassingly naïve commenter here, who is apparently banned from Google).

And guess what the No. 1 reason victims give for declining to report to law enforcement? Go ahead, guess! It’s a belief that violent abuse is a private and personal matter. And rounding out the top 4 reasons are fear of reprisal, to protect the offender, and the belief that police would do nothing. On the other hand, false allegations by women victims of domestic (and sexual) violence are indeed rare. Even according to those infamous SJW’s at the FBI false allegations are likely to be the exception, not the rule.

In one study, about a third of victims reported “no assault” in cases where police actually found otherwise.

Comparing hundreds of police domestic violence incident reports with victim statements at four sites in three different states, researchers found that a proportion of victims deny abuse documented by police. Researchers found 29 percent of victims reported “no assault,” contradicting police findings. Ironically, their alleged assailants were more likely to admit to the assaults, with only 19 percent reporting “no assault.”

You know what else is ironic? I AGREE WITH THE COMMENTER! OMG! In reality, lying isn’t rare in “situations such as this” at all! IT HAPPENS ALL THE FUCKING TIME! It turns out that victims do it to protect their privacy—and their abusers

Somehow I doubt that’s what my interlocutor had in mind, tho. That would be more like “bitchez always be lyin’ ‘n shit amirite.”

Amber Heard’s legal team had this to say:

Amber did not provide a statement to the LAPD in an attempt to protect her privacy and Johnny’s career…In reality, Amber acted no differently than many victims of domestic violence, who think first of the harm that might come to the abuser, rather than the abuse they have already suffered.

All of that is entirely consistent with the overwhelming research and knowledge we have about domestic abuse. And if all of that were not reason enough to believe her (it is), domestic violence is depressingly common. A 2014 study found 1 in 5 men reported violence toward their intimate partners. That’s higher a prevalence than diabetes.

But there will be a police report now! And that is because despite her desire to keep all of this private, Team Depp’s response was an immediate, vicious, public smear campaign. It’s actually a really good strategy on his part, too, because there are so many willfully ignorant little weasels—like this commenter, for instance—who are inexplicably determined to believe that victims commonly make false accusations when they… don’t.

Thank you, Iris! I think this picture right here, which I posted on my previous post on the topic of Amber Heard and her abuser, linked to above, summarizes it perfectly:

Image of a post from Tumblr. Text from image is below…

Image of a post from Tumblr. Text from image is below…

Society: Why don’t people speak up about domestic violence? Why do they suffer in silence instead of seeking help?

Amber Heard: Provides photographic evidence, verbal accounts, and a police complaint to prove that Johnny Depp abused her. Files for divorce and a restraining order to prevent further domestic violence.

Society: “innocent until proven guilty”, “don’t jump to conclusions”, “we don’t know the full story”, “don’t believe everything you see on the media”, “he doesn’t seem like that type of guy”, “she’s a gold digger”, “she just wants his money”

We live in a society that doubts victims, that automatically damns them as liars, that supports their abusers, that victim-blames, and more. A woman telling the truth about being raped and/or abused has her reputation tarred, feathered, and dragged through the mud. She is raked over the coals again and again by a justice system and a society determined to prove that she’s lying. Her house will be burned to the ground. The police might ultimately force her to say that she was lying just because they don’t want to deal with it. Rape kits, already traumatizing enough to go through, rarely get tested, and, in fact, are often thrown out. And then if the rapist does go to court, the judge will simply slap him on the wrist, while his Dad and his friends write victim-blamey letters, and he considers going on a tour to give talks about “the dangers of alcoholism and promiscuity”.

Why in the hell would anyone want to lie about it, when actually telling the truth is already damaging enough?

So yeah… no… I don’t believe Amber Heard is lying. And I will stand by her until it’s proven that she’s lying. Simple as that.

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