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Confronting Myths About Sexual Assault: A Feminist Analysis of the False Report Literature

Family Relations / Family Relations Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies

Published online on


Inaccurate beliefs that women commonly lie about sexual assault and target innocent men are pervasive in the United States, particularly on college and university campuses. Research consistently demonstrates that false reports of sexual assault account for less than 10% of reported cases and that individuals are unlikely to be wrongly accused of sexual assault. Thus, to pursue justice on campuses and beyond, family scholars must challenge misinformation about false reports in their teaching and scholarship to shift the narrative away from these prevalent and harmful rape myths. Doing so will allow for a more comprehensive and informed dialogue about how to address sexual assault on university campuses. This article offers a feminist analysis of the issue, clearly delineates the definition of a false report, critically reviews the false report literature, and presents suggestions for educational efforts by family professionals.