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Judge and Gavel

Mental Health

False Accusations and Mental Health

 

A false accusation has the potential to be the most traumatic event in a person’s life. The consequences of which can extend to their social life, physical health, identity, finances/employment, and beliefs. Such changes can persist years after the resolution of the accusation. Below are some examples of what an innocent person can go through following a false accusation.  

 

Mental Health

 

Out of all the detriments a false accusation makes, mental health is the one aspect that is likely to be affected the most. Below are some of the conditions a person can experience.

 

-Anxiety  -Depression  -Suicidal thoughts

-Paranoia  -Panic attacks  -Shock

-PTSD  -Stress  -Apathy

-Insomnia  -Anger  -Irritability

-Despair  -Survivor’s guilt  -Hopelessness

 

 Severity in one or more of the conditions can effectively leave the innocent unable to experience life. In some cases, partners close to the victim can exhibit the same conditions. 

 

Social Life

 

An unfortunate spillover from the decline in mental health, relationships, romantic or otherwise, can decline. Victims of false accusations can have difficulty trusting others. Breakups, divorce, and isolation are common. Friendships are also at risk. Even though it can benefit the falsely accused to speak to others about their situation, some don’t. 

 

Stigmatization also plays a significant role in breaking down relationships. No matter the character of the innocent who was falsely accused, someone will believe the label forced upon them. Close friends, colleagues, and family may turn their back on the innocent. Many will believe the accuser and treat the falsely accused as a criminal. Even after vindication (if ever) the label of criminal is likely to never go away in the mind of those who knew the victim. 

 

Surprisingly, those who have been falsely accused often do not bear animosity towards their accusers after time has passed.   

 

Physical Health

 

False accusations can directly or indirectly cause physical harm. Victims can suffer from the following:

 

-Actual pain  -Nausea  -Lasting affects from suicide attempts

-Unhealthy weight loss/gain  -High blood pressure   -Lethargy

-Stress

 

Note that the high stress situation of fighting a false accusation may contribute to the likelihood of severe medical conditions like a heart attack and a stroke. The risk is especially high if the conditions are present in the innocent’s family history. 

 

Identity

 

For better or worse, the personality of those who have been falsely accused can change. Victims can become more introverted, distrustful, reject altruism, be less confident, or otherwise be unable to return to how they were before they were accused. 

 

Finances/Employment

 

Unsurprisingly many do experience financial hardships. Apart from potentially losing their job, the innocent can have difficulty seeking employment after the fact. Imagine how difficult it is explaining your situation in an interview. Moreover, background checks often do not distinguish between pending charges and actual criminal history. Employers often do not care for the difference. Those working in certain occupations can end up blacklisted in their field and unable to find the same job due to the stigma associated with them.

 

Victims face high bills to fight for their freedom. Lawyer fees can add up to the thousands as does bail. Those two are the most common expenses a victim faces, but as part of their defense, they may need to pay for expensive additions like expert testimony or a private investigator. 

 

It is highly unlikely that the falsely accused will receive anything in compensation. Losses tend to be permanent as legal recourse against the police or the one who made the accusation are likely to fail. Insurance policies, to our knowledge, do not cover this risk. In a similar light, victims of false accusation are unable to qualify for unemployment. 

 

Beliefs 

 

Those unfortunate to have gone through the criminal “justice” system tend to have doubts about trusting the system and its actors ever again. This is especially true if the system forced an innocent person to go through traumatic events like the removal of a child during a custody hearing or a prison sentence. Often they will never get an apology from either the police, prosecution, welfare workers, the judge, the accuser, etc, for subjugating them through quite possibly the worst experience of their life. 

 

Contemp isn’t limited to the legal system. The falsely accused opinions of the media and the public can degrade. Some feel that the public too easily makes assumptions about a case without knowing all the facts and the media quick to demonize perpetrators. 

 

Lastly, religious beliefs can be changed. Some may abandon religion altogether or strengthen their beliefs. 

 

Coping

 

Given the severity of the consequences a false accusation can bring, it is important to know how to prepare and cope with what you are about to face. There is no guarantee that the following advice will be effective. At the very least, it should guide towards the right steps in helping plan on how to cope.

 

Before anything else, recognize the gravity of the situation. Denial is common. As shown before, false accusations can potentially make life a living nightmare. React as you will. Hold nothing back.

 

You will likely talk to those close to you about your case against the wishes of your attorney. While talking openly about your situation may be detrimental to your defense, it does work well as a coping mechanism. Consider  professional support as well. Talk to your doctor to get a referral to a mental health specialist or get prescribed medication if needed.

 

If you do not see a general practitioner, try the following links to search for a mental health professional. Take your time and select carefully. Ensure that there is strict confidentiality. 

 

https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Individuals-with-Mental-Illness/Finding-a-Mental-Health-Professional

https://locator.apa.org/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

 

The criminal justice system is very slow. Resolutions in the courts can take up to a year or longer. Keep yourself busy. Thinking too much about your case will not help. 

  • Exercise. Never neglect your health when you are at your most vulnerable. Taking walks will suffice. On the topic of health, try to limit substance and alcohol abuse. It may help in the very short term, but it will be devastating in the long.

  • Learn about the law. Ask your lawyer if you can help with your case or ask them to explain to you the law about the charge you are facing.

  • Seek new hobbies. Look into taking a new hobby or learning a skill. Don’t look for new hobbies if the ones you have now work at keeping you busy.

  • Volunteer. If your sense of altruism hasn’t been affected, helping others can provide some purpose.

  • Explore. Find places you haven’t been to in your town and visit. If you can afford it, travel to other states or countries. 

  • Support groups. Victims of the falsely accused do make support groups to help each with what they are going through. Many explain that helping others who are going through a false accusation helps them as well. Try to find those groups or make your own if there aren’t any in your community.

 

General Information

 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides general information on mental health. A link to their website is below. The second link is to a directory of many resources and numbers to call for help. Pages 52-54 are the most relevant. 

 

https://www.nami.org/home

https://nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/2021-Resource-Directory.pdf

Below is a link to a page with many more options if you want alternatives.

https://www.ireviews.com/student-mental-health/

 

We hope this page was helpful.

Stay free.

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