Family Science Research on Sexual Assault Finds False Reports to be Rare
Dana Weiser, Ph.D.,
Affiliated Faculty Member, Women’s & Gender Studies
Assistant Professor, Human Development & Family Studies
Texas Tech University
808-834-4912, or email
A review of research on sexual assault finds that 2-8% of sexual assault allegations are proven to be false, which is a similar rate to false reports of other serious crimes.
The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), the premier professional association for understanding families through interdisciplinary research, theory, and practice, has opened one of their journal articles to the public for a limited period of time. “Confronting Myths About Sexual Assault: A Feminist Analysis of the False Report Literature” by NCFR member Dana A. Weiser, Ph.D., was published in Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science (FR). The article is currently available to read and download at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fare.12235
The article details the definition of false reports and provides a review of the false report research. For instance, when a case is found to be a false report, individuals are highly unlikely to be wrongly accused. Typically, in false reports, an actual person is not named. Instead, individuals will report an unidentified stranger attacked them. This reporting stands in contrast to most substantiated sexual assaults in which survivors know the perpetrator. The research also concludes that men are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than to be falsely accused of a sexual assault.
Dr. Matthew Gregory, Texas Tech Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Administrator for Students, stated “this research is timely and important because it emphasizes the need to listen before making a judgment and the necessity of conducting a thorough investigation to corroborate a claim.” Dr. Gregory, who is also a former law enforcement officer, states “this article has significant implications for practice.”
NCFR released this article in a special issue of FR titled “Feminist Framings of Sexual Violence on College Campuses.” The issue was co-edited by NCFR members Elizabeth A. Sharp, Ph.D., Shannon E. Weaver, Ph.D., and Anisa M. Zvonkovic, Ph.D.
Dr. Weiser is an affiliated faculty member of women’s & gender studies, and assistant professor of human development & family studies at Texas Tech University. Her program of research focuses on how family experiences shape young adults' later relationship experiences and sexual behaviors, including sexual risk taking. Much of her work studies how the experience of parental infidelity is associated with young adults' own likelihood of engaging in infidelity.
The National Council on Family Relations is the premier professional association for the multidisciplinary understanding of families. NCFR has a membership of nearly 3,000 family researchers, practitioners and educators. For more information on the National Council on Family Relations or its scholarly publications, visit the NCFR website at ncfr.org.