Anyone who spends as much time as I do online, and who is an outspoken survivor, inevitably gets bombarded with lots of requests to share information to their readers. Like most of you, I get a lot of those, and if it’s something that I think survivors might benefit from, I’m more than happy to.
What I won’t do, is sign your petition, voice my support, contact the media or a congressperson on behalf of someone I don’t even know. Here’s a good example of why I don’t so that, a Facebook post that went viral, purporting to name a wanted child molester, who in fact is not wanted and has absolutely no legal issues to speak of.
See, here’s the thing. Baseless accusations ruin people’s lives, and they hurt legitimate abuse survivors. If we want a world where abuse victims are to be believed, we need to be extra outspoken against anyone, anywhere, who makes false accusations. We need to be more skeptical when faced with social network posts claiming to raise awareness of a specific case when there is no evidence beyond an anonymous Twitter or Facebook account.
In this case, not only does this individual have a pretty good civil case against the person who started spreading the post, he has one against every single person who thought they were “doing their part” and shared it. Every one of those people has lost credibility. How many false rumors about potential molesters, or false claims of abuse being used as a child custody tool, before we are simply not believed any more? How soon before we reach a point where every claim of abuse is met with skepticism, because there are just so many false ones.
If we expect society to believe victims, then we have to weed out those who would take advantage of that by making false accusations, not continue to spread “support” when we don’t know anything about the case we are publicizing. False accusations are damaging to the people being accused, and to the survivor community in general. Think before you repost.