National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence Against Women 2009


Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.




Table 10: Beliefs about whether women falsify claims of domestic and sexual violence –

1995 and 2009 (percentages)

Women going through custody battles often          agree         disagree        unsure

make up or exaggerate claims of domestic                 49                   28                 23

violence in order to improve their case

Existing research finds that most allegations of domestic violence in the context of family law proceedings are made in good faith and

with support and evidence for their claims. Two studies have examined rates of substantiated allegations of domestic violence in the

context of family law proceedings, and they find that allegations are substantiated in 63 to 74 percent of cases (Shaffer and Bala 2003;

Johnston et al. 2005). The remainder are unsubstantiated – where either there is insufficient information to support substantiation or

where there is a determination that the allegation is false.

A Canadian study of family law cases in which written decisions were produced over a three-year period identified 42 recorded cases of

spousal abuse alleged against men. Seventy-four percent of these were substantiated. Only two cases of spousal abuse alleged against

women were identified, one of which was substantiated (Shaffer and Bala 2003). However, as the authors note, in the cases where the

courts found the allegations to be exaggerated or unfounded, in some instances the courts gave no reasons for this conclusion, and in at

least some cases, judges failed to recognise the existence or seriousness of actual abuse (Shaffer and Bala 2003).

A US study drew on documentary records describing 120 divorced families referred for child custody evaluations and custody

counselling, collected over 1989 to 2002 from family courts within San Francisco Bay Area counties. Multiple allegations of child

abuse, neglect, and family violence were raised in the majority of cases. Allegations were assessed on the basis of detailed interviews

with family members, information from professionals, and analysis of written documentation. This study found that 63 percent of

allegations of abuse by one adult of another (including domestic violence and substance misuse) were substantiated (Johnston

et al. 2005). Allegations were more likely to be substantiated against men than against women (67 versus 55 percent). In other

words, counter to some popular perceptions, men rather than women were more likely to make allegations of domestic violence

(and substance abuse) in family law proceedings which were not substantiated. However, this study cannot determine rates of false

allegations, as it could not distinguish among `unsubstantiated' allegations between those which were false and those which could

not be determined due to lack of evidence (Johnston et al. 2005).

There is no doubt that false allegations of rape and domestic violence sometimes are made. At the same time, there is nothing

to suggest that these are common or that women make them more often than men (Davis 2004). In addition, false allegations of

violence and abuse are far less common than false denials of their perpetration (Jaffe et al. 2008). The popularity of notions of

women's routine use of false allegations reflects the ongoing influence of longstanding gender stereotypes of women as prone to

lying and motivated by malice. These stereotypes have been given new life in recent debates over family law (Flood 2009). Their

persistence continues to threaten women's (and men's) abilities to protect themselves and their children from violence and abuse.


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Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.