Accusation and Refutation

The following began as a result of an accusation made during the #metoo movement of Oct 2017. Originally, I set about simply refuting the false accusation made against me but, as my personal situation developed, my perspective changed. As the movement grew in the public forum, this story seemed to take on implications beyond my immediate social group. What started as simply an attempt to offer the other side, grew to include many subjects that I never expected, some complex and sensitive subjects that I’ve done my best to cover as delicately as I can. I’ve also tried to be as sensitive as possible to those involved and, as this will be public, I’ve chosen to make this entire account anonymously and redacted all the attached supplements.

Since this will also serve as my refutation to the false accusation, you may find yourself at this page with personal knowledge of those involved looking for some definitive judgment in what happened. If that’s the case, in the end, you probably won’t be satisfied. It’s he said/she said, as these things often are, and only one person is telling the truth. This is simply my account. You’ll have to decide what you believe.

So, the story: I met the subject of this account, known here as J, in 2009. We dated briefly over the course of a volatile few months of her life following her divorce. There were several good qualities to J – she was attractive, charming, adoring and endearing and I liked her. But as the weeks passed, the relationship became more and more unstable. There was a distinct emotional intensity in nearly every aspect. Within weeks, other characteristics of J began to emerge, such as jealousy (2), alcohol excess leading (4) to black outs, over-attachment (2) and erratic moods. The relationship became troubled. In previous versions of this account, I went into great detail about these events, thinking it important to illustrate the mental state of my accuser at that time. However, now the situation has changed and to discuss many of these events could be taken as too defamatory to her. I’m choosing instead, to only discuss the last night we spent together, as it effectively illustrates much of the relevant context. It is also the night in which the accusation is based.

For several days proceeding the last night we were together, in Jan 2010, our relationship had been fairly rocky. This was the result of a volatile evening in which J had jealously confronted my best friend of more than 2 decades, a woman who J thought I might have been dating (2). This lead to some tension between us but, after a few days, things eventually thawed. She called me one night while I was working. I called her when my shift ended. She had been out drinking, as had I. She asked what my plans were. I told her I was grabbing a bite and heading home. She then told me that she hadn’t eaten all day and asked if I would bring her something. I agreed, I hit a drive through and drove over to her house. We ate our burgers and after a little conversation, J initiated sex, also not uncommon for the relationship.

At this point, I could go into to detail describing our sex life but I’m choosing not to. Everything that happened this night was consensual, as it had been throughout the relationship. The real point of this account is not necessarily to describe our sex life or refute any specific claim but rather to present the context in which a false rape accusation could, and has been, made.

After sex, we laid in bed for a while, talking. At a point, J shifted the conversation towards the relationship and some of the previously mentioned troubles. As it was late and we had been drinking, I tried to avoid this topic. It was a long conversation that I didn’t want to get into. J persisted and things became tense. J continued to have the conversation. I became more and more impatient and finally I told her that we should continue the conversation the next day. I got out of bed and started getting ready to leave. At this point, J became very upset. This made me want to leave even more. She was sobbing, throwing things, screaming (1, 6, 8)– questioning why I was leaving, why I didn’t want to be with her – and most vivid of all my memories that night – why I didn’t love her when she loved me.

At this, my frustration came pouring. I told her she didn’t know what love was. I didn’t think she knew who I was because she was always drunk. I told her I was the guy that brought her burgers when she couldn’t feed herself, I was the guy that drove her home when she passed out in bars, that I wasn’t her boyfriend, I was her babysitter, that I didn’t love her. I stormed out. This was the last direct contact I had with J for several years. At that time, I felt guilt about what I had said. I wasn’t trying to be cruel – I was honest and I believed every word that I had said – but still, I knew my words had hurt her. I thought about calling or going back but in the end, I decided to let it cool off. The next day I called and got her voice mail. I tried several times over the next few days to get in touch, reaching out to friends, none of which had heard from her. It wasn’t until a week later that I heard she had self-harmed (5) and was Baker Acted. Shortly there after, I heard she had been admitted to an inpatient treatment center for a longer duration.

At the news of this, I was naturally distressed. Despite the fight and troubles, I did care about J. That was, and remains, the only time I’ve been that close to something like that. I felt guilt that I had missed the warning signs and about the fight. I sought counseling to help me process this. They said my feelings were natural and common among people in my situation. We talked about the relationship and I began to see J differently – rather than the emotional, erratic, drunk I had dated, I started to see her as a deeply troubled person who had medicated with alcohol. I wrote down much of the relationship at that time with all its many darker moments. Deeper issues began to emerge as I did this. It seemed the events leading up to this night had been set in motion long before I ever met her. I suspected some deeper mental issues.

Here, I’d like to break the narrative for a moment to point out that this is not some random night from years ago. Perhaps, in situations like this, that might be the case. Surely, if it were any other random night when alcohol was involved, my recollections wouldn’t be as clear. Had J just passed out as any number of nights before, the same could be said. Had I just stayed the night, the same could be said. But those things didn’t happen.

That was my last direct contact with J. I did hear about her from time to time. I would hear things she had said in the months after. The accusations started around this time. Not of rape but other things. Some were the more common “he’s an asshole” type. Others were more bizarre. Of these, the most odd was when, months later, she accused me of breaking into her house to steal DVDs. She had a friend call to confront me. I hadn’t. As the months passed, J came up less and less. Years passed. It wasn’t until 2013 that she came back into my life. We were at the same party and her boyfriend at the time confronted me about some offense, but with no details. After this, I wrote the boyfriend a message trying to keep the peace.

The next interaction was about a year later in 2014. She showed up at a well-publicized show I was playing. One of her group confronted me, slapped me, and was kicked out of the venue. Another threatened me. This was the first time I heard “rape” in relation to J. I took this more seriously. I considered my options. Started researching J and calling mutual friends to get information. I heard a couple versions of the rape accusation. I also learned that she was going through a foreclosure and bankruptcy, she was drinking and she was handling all this badly. Based on my time with her when she seemed to be struggling with similar things, the outcome then and my sympathy for her, I ultimately decided to let it go. I didn’t want to push her. I did take some precautions – I blocked her on social platforms thinking that perhaps I could partially prevent further interactions if she couldn’t see what I was doing. She tried to add me on linkedin shortly thereafter but after that, things seemed to settle down. There were the occasional interactions, typically at a bar where we both were. I tried to keep my distance. These were mostly uneventful. Life went on.

And so, for much of the next 3 years, things were quiet as far as J was concerned until on Oct 16, 2017, during the #metoo movement, when she posted on FB that I raped her in 2007. She tagged my business and band and encouraged her followers to share the post. I messaged her under guidance of an attorney, to remove the post under threat of legal action. She did, but continued to allude to the post and continued to private message people. In the initial panic of the situation, I considered many things. I drafted several versions of a response but settled on this.

I don’t think this was a planned post. It seems as though she were egged on by comments on other posts before the accusation. With her impulsive nature, perhaps she didn’t try to verify the date. It’s easily verifiable when we met. Perhaps she does in fact believe it was in 2007 or perhaps charitably, it could be assumed a typo. Either way, it does begin to cast some suspicion on the claim. There is often a presumption that I must know the accusation. In truth, I didn’t know that sex was part of J’s actions against me until 2014. At that time, I heard a few versions of the story through mutual friends. In the weeks after the post, the number of versions grew. So it seemed necessary to understand the accusation beyond the vague, and demonstrably incorrect post and the few vague versions that I heard from others.

As I mentioned in the message, I had sent an email to J. At first she declined, but a few weeks later, she did call me. It was a Monday morning and I was at work. I was very surprised and not at all prepared. Still, I tried to have an honest conversation with her and for the first time, I heard the claim from her directly. To be honest, our two versions of the events aren’t that dissimilar. She acknowledges that we were having consensual sex. But then, where I remember a somewhat drunk and awkward, but consensual, 45 seconds or so, she’s added a violent assault. Naturally, she’s also removed consent. She’s also revised the moments after to exclude the conversation and argument. During the phone conversation, she repeated the same lines over and over, somewhat script like, telling me a version of events that simply did not happen. I explained multiple times that I didn’t remember it like that, trying to be more diplomatic than saying that it didn’t happen that way. I tried to shift the conversation to the context of the night. I tried to discuss the events before and after. She did not want to talk about anything other than the exact version of events that she was telling me. In the end, no closure was reached. I can’t say that I was surprised given the situation. I tried multiple times to suggest that we talk with a therapist or mediator. She declined.

When the thought first occurred to me to talk to her directly, I was willing to accept various causes, and even some fault, for the situation: there may have been some crossed signals or some portion of the night that we remembered differently, that it was very likely that she had gaps in her memory as a blackout drinker would, or that her alcohol had some how invalidated her consent, as seems the cause in similar situations or, considering comments like this, where she indicates that considering a woman “disposable” is somehow rape validated her claim. I was fully willing to accept that I had hurt her feelings with my insensitive words and that possibly she felt used since I left. I was fully prepared to acknowledge her suffering and struggles over the years. I was willing to sympathize with her. I truly wanted to listen to her pain and offer some peace to the situation. That however, only seemed possible in J’s mind if I accepted her exact version of events. I refuse to do this. I do not have to ignore reality and accept some false narrative just because she believes or feels something, or because she’s suffered, or because I would like to heal the situation.

And so again, if you want a definitive verdict, you’re not likely to be satisfied. After all, there were two people alone in a room. I can’t prove what happened that night. It’s simply he said/she said. Or rather, in this case, it’s actually he said/she said/she said/etc. In the initial months after the night, she had conversations with friends about these events. Some of these are mutual friends to us both. I’ve asked a few of them for their accounts. In one version, she acknowledged that something I said hurt her and that’s why she tried to “kill herself” – this is at odds with her claim that we never had an argument. In one of the more detailed conversations, another mutual friend said that she only mentioned the sex with a little embarrassment but there was no mention of rape or violence and that she was distinctly more upset by the fact that I left after. This person assured me that had J mentioned anything that sounded like rape, she would have encouraged her to report. That never happened. At this point, I’ve heard several various versions of this account. The details are different in each. In some versions, she’s sober, in others she’s not. Moments before and after are varied. It depends on who you ask. I’m basing this on the version she told me.

So again, the crux of this account is to not necessarily compare details of accounts but rather provide the context of how this false accusation came to be. I can’t say that I’ll ever know exactly. I’ve speculated over it for the last 3 years since I first heard the claim and come up with several plausible scenarios. A Google search can yield several relevant results of other false accusations and a long list of motivations. While you’re welcome to do your own research, this study was particularly interesting because it asked the accusers about their motivations after the allegations were proven false. In over 60% of the false allegations, “Emotional Gain” was the reason. This includes things like attention, revenge, sympathy, alibi, mental disorder, relabeling and regret and, given that evening as it unfolded, all these seem applicable and likely are, to some degree or another. These feelings are probably common among many failed relationships but they do not end with false allegations of rape. So why is this scenario different?

As I’ve indicated, I suspected deeper psychological issues at work in J. In the hindsight of self-harm, it does seem to bring special significance to events prior. In my previous drafts of this account, I covered lots of these events that seemed to indicate mental instability in J at the time. Fear of being accused of “gas-lighting,” as it’s become so infused into situations like this, made me stop short of voicing my suspicions. Mutual friends had also mentioned J and mental illness before but I was still hesitant. However, all that changed when she made a post. She indicates that she has Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder and that only recently has gotten her medication for these correct. Clearly I’m not a doctor and I’ve never had any opportunity to talk to J about this – at the time we dated, it was never mentioned and I’m not sure she was diagnosed yet. Still, I’ve done a lot of research on the illnesses, as would be expected in these recent weeks, and given my account, the accounts of others and much of her behavior, I think it’s impossible to write this without addressing her psychological issues.

Both of these illnesses, often diagnosed together, are serious. Bipolar, or BD, seemed evident throughout our relationship. I saw several manic episodes, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, always drunk, and so often I dismissed them as an emotional person who would let it out after drinks. In our last night detailed above, this seems evident. Though BD is a serious illness, my research on Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, seemed more relevant to me and so I’ll cover it in greater depth.

Firstly, BPD is diagnosed generally by identifying 5 of 9 character traits in an individual. These traits are:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging. (alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, promiscuity, etc)
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  8. Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

To me, these signs were present throughout much of the relationship and, in just the brief, one-night account above, at least 5 are present. In my research, I found there are hundreds of anecdotal accounts of interactions with BPD individuals on Youtube and blogs and such. There are several common behaviors attributed to the disease that go beyond the clinical diagnosis. It seems that this particular suite of traits manifests itself in common behaviors over and over. I did find one article, and I acknowledge it’s not an academic paper and rather poorly organized, and a little harsh, that covers a wide array of these BPD behaviors and serves to flesh out the diagnosis. It’s long so I’ll include a few relevant samples here.

“BPD see themselves as always being the victim of other people.  They constantly accuse the people closest to them of acting maliciously against them.”

“Their accusations that others are sabotaging them are often merely projection (pot kettle black) of their own efforts to sabotage and betray coworkers, spouses, and children.”

“Besides being the eternal victim, many BPDs will strive to be seen as heroes, defenders of the truth and the weak. This involves declaring that “bad” people deserve to be punished and then singling them out for months or years of accusations and abuse.”

“..how a BPD acts:

Can’t be alone, can’t stand to be with others, a common neurotic trait.

Makes everyone walk on eggshells – this is a common way of describing other personality disorders as well.

Extreme pride and grandiosity – even though the BPD suffers from a crippling lack of self-esteem, they may give the appearance of being armor plated.  Whatever criticism reaches them is filtered through layer after layer of denial and distortion.  They may be quite proud of their character flaws.

Shame and secrecy – There is a general sense that anything the BPD does in private must never be spoken of.  In selecting the person for group bullying (in the home or workplace) they will single out the truth teller of the group.

Projective Identification – playing the victim by constantly trying to provoke others into being angry.  This not only fills the emotional needs of the BPD, it can nearly make it impossible for observers to determine which person is ill and abusive.

Respect me! – pretend my fake emotions are real. This is common in many mental health problems.

Conflict in all their relationships.  Years of grudges and score keeping

Demands that people join in their mental games. Creates a bubble of chaos where ever they go.

Constant ad hominem attacks – other people have horrible flaws. Often the BPD can’t quite identify their problem, but the BPD is sure those flaws are in other people and they must be punished.

They lack personal boundaries, demand to know what other people are thinking or feeling, and are always digging digging digging for evidence to use against others.

The BPD has a circle of neurotic friendships to provide the attention, validation, and sympathy that they need to survive.

Accusations – effortless lying, crying, incoherent but convincing, probably believe their own lies more than most people believe anything.

Although they may suffer constant guilt, they constantly try to use guilt against others, and pile guilt on their children. You will never hear them say they are sorry about anything.

Obsessed with the “Truth” and accusing other people of lying

Although seemingly armor plated with narcissistic certainly, they will also plunge into periods of depression and self loathing at regular intervals.

Urge to betray and sabotage their own relationships and destroy other peoples relationships.

Use of projection is obvious – the BPD constantly accuses others of being angry, negative, and abusive. And their accusations against others is a projection of their own guilt.”

This all seems relevant to the situation in which I find myself and provides me with the lens which with to view J. While researching BPD, I also found the term “distortion campaign.” It came up in multiple articles but this one seemed particularly interesting. Again, a relevant sample:

“One of the classic behaviors of a person suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder is the vilification campaign. The target is the person against whom the perpetrator Borderline conducts the vilification.  The intent is to destroy the target’s reputation and thereby destroy the target’s relationships with family and friends, employers, co-workers, doctors, teachers, therapists, and others. The intent may even be to force the target to leave the community, put the target in prison, or even kill the target.  As with so many things involving Borderlines and their typical inability to understand or respect boundaries, there really are no limits. They will use basically any means available to them to cause damage to their target, including denigration, endless disparaging remarks, fabrication, false accusations, and even teaching others (including their children!) to lie on their behalf as part of their vilification campaign.”

“Distortion campaigns are often done behind the scenes against people who are or were related or emotionally close to the perpetrator.  They may start months or years before the target is even aware of the campaign.  For instance, the breakup of a relationship is often connected to a distortion campaign against a former partner.  The campaign may have started a long time before the breakup, to give the Borderline “justification” regarding what she or he has done or is about to do to the target, be it having an affairs(s), kicking them out of a home, filing false domestic violence charges, running away with the children, stealing large quantities of joint money and property, or some other hostile actions. By the time the target is aware of the distortions, people around the Borderline may have been hearing for a long time that the target is some evil, horrible, cruel person as part of the distortion campaign.”

“The BP (short for “Borderline Personality” or “Borderline Person”) is likely to make extreme false allegations, distortions, and varied lies to defame and harm her or his former partner and other targets. The BP is also likely to involve many other people in the distortion campaign. Many are passive participants who will listen and believe the BP’s lies. Others become actively involved in spreading them further. The target may find that there are dozens of people, many whom have never met him or her, who believe and repeat the lies of the BP.”

“Often they revolve around false claims of partner abuse, child abuse, perverse sexual behaviors, drug and substance abuse, mental illness, and criminal conduct. BPs tend to pick false accusations that are difficult to disprove. Although we supposedly live in a society in which people are “innocent until proven guilty”, the reality is, that is not how people are treated. This is especially the case when accusations of sexual abuse, child abuse, and spousal abuse are involved. The victims of the distortion campaign often are treated as pariahs or even criminals, assumed to be guilty without any evidence whatsoever.”

“Often BPs tell varying lies to different people who don’t “compare notes” and so don’t see what should be really obvious deception. Often the BP’s emotional intensity and ability to play on people’s emotions makes them master manipulators. People tend to “just believe” because the BP can come across as very charming, warm and friendly. Untrained, uncritical listeners are particularly susceptible at being duped by their lies.”

This last section may suggest a course of action for those who know J. There are several versions. Perhaps a little comparing-notes may help find the truth, or at least find what’s not true.

And so, this seems very applicable given my narrative. Obviously, this doesn’t disprove anything J has said. After all, not all with BPD use distortion campaigns. But J does. There are several campaigns she’s waged in the years since I knew her. I could discuss those but those stories belong to others. So I’ll discuss the campaign that J was employing at the time I knew her. As mentioned previously, she was recently divorced at the time we dated and naturally, she had negative feelings towards her ex-husband. On many occasions, she would openly discuss, with varying degrees of certainty, that her ex was homosexual. I once pressed her for the basis of her suspicion. She indicated it was because they had stopped having sex. I pushed back against that, saying there are several reasons why that could be without him being gay. She did seem to acknowledge the possibility but it didn’t stop her from continuing the rumor for several weeks. Obviously, this isn’t as severe as a rape accusation but, I believe, that given her devout Christian upbringing, it was intended as a slur. Even in recent weeks, as I’ve monitored the situation, she’s continued the behavior. In one of her post, she mentioned that I found her through my girlfriend, suggesting that she had blocked me when in fact the opposite is true. Recently, she has laid the groundwork for new campaigns against others. Slight misrepresentations about a text or a simple distortion of a phone conversation, could mark the start of the campaign to cast others as villains. Given a few years, who knows what the accusation could be.

I’d like to add here that I take no pleasure in tearing down a mentally ill person. It may seem harsh to discuss several of these things so publicly. I’ve done my best to only tell the story as necessary. The truth is that J has suffered. The diseases and negative effects on her life have been significant. And I am truly sympathetic to her. This is much of the reason that I’ve never gotten into details about her life. I’ve casually dismissed her as “a mess” or “crazy” in conversations where she comes up. I’ve warned a few people about getting involved with her. But much of this account I thought was better left privately in the past and so that’s where I left it. I’ve known of the accusation for several years now and always felt that the best defense to it was simply the accuser, and her many issues with credibility. So for years, she’s engaged in these attacks and I’ve taken a position of reserved defense. Only now, do I feel obligated to defend myself in depth. After all, public accusations deserve public refutations. It’s taken me a few months to offer this refutation, since I had hoped to avoid this type of defense. I had hoped that maybe with the aid of a therapist or a little conversation, J and I could heal the situation without needing to involve others. But despite my efforts, that doesn’t seem possible.

It should also be noted that she has sobered up in the past year and is apparently medicating for her many issues, though with degrees of success. In the weeks after the post, she was clearly having some emotional issues and eventually went into an outpatient program. While these steps are commendable, BPD cannot be cured through medication, only managed. So perhaps she won’t be as volatile, as self-destructive but only years of therapy are apparently effective to combat the effects of the disease. And even with years of treatment, any gains cannot be retroactively applied to all the years preceding.

So here, I’ve described the nature of this accusation as I see it. None of this proves that her claim is false. If I’ve done my work however, it should be clear that her claim is highly suspicious. Given the combination of factors – history of substance abuse, blackouts, mental illness, emotional gain, various accounts, history of false accusations, etc – I’ve described, skepticism would be the appropriate response. It makes sense, in this situation, with no evidence, and only two competing narratives, the credibility of the narratives should be interrogated. But, in the current moment, I’m not sure that is the case. Certainly, there are those who accept J at her word. After all, #believewomen has been shared countless times on social media. And while some articles do the necessary work of describing the nuance of this movement, acknowledging that there was a time when the accounts of women were given less weight than those of men, and that, rightly, all persons should be treated with equality, that isn’t always what happens. Too often, it seems this nuance is lost. Often, “believe women” is interpreted as “disbelieve men.” At least, this seems to be the way J interprets it.

I don’t think “belief” is appropriate or even necessary. There are several areas of human experience – religion, politics, etc – where we are asked to believe. Many of us use a certain amount of reason when deciding how to proceed in these areas. Why would this be any different? Some women do, in fact, lie. Not because they’re women but because they’re human and susceptible to all the moral failings of behavior therein. Obviously, men lie too. So I won’t ask anyone to believe me. I don’t want you to have faith – I want you to think.

But while on the topic, another relationship from my past seems relevant. I’ve made public statements about this in the past but, once again, I feel obligated to address it. It’s often offered by J as a quasi-indictment or evidence for her claim, so addressing it may serve to pull the fangs from that attack. But I also feel this obligation because it informs much of my own thoughts on this recent situation and the much broader conversation currently taking place. And for this one, there’s actually some documentation.

The other story

 

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2 thoughts on “Accusation and Refutation

  1. Interesting story. Feel free to contact me, and we can share thoughts. I can also send you my article on false rape statistics. You will find it interesting, I promise you. I was falsely accused of historic rape by a woman I had never met, and wrote a book about it (“Dry Ice” – check it out on Amazon). I became something of an expert in the field.

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    1. Hey Peter. Thanks for reaching out. I would be interested in your stats since it seems like an area of study not often pursued. I will check out your book as well when I can. As someone who has gone thru a similar experience, I’d be curious as to your thoughts on how I’ve handled this. Unfortunately, it seems there are only difficult paths before me. Since it’s not a criminal matter, it does seem like this will play out in the public conversation. Suing an unemployed, bankrupt, mentally ill women at considerable cost doesn’t seem to be a good route. Just curious what you think. Thanks again for your interest. – BH

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