Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence to falsely accused: 'a righteous indignation instead of fear should inform your feelings'

Great answer, and I am sure the community of the wrongly accused appreciate it:

Q. Confessing My Darkest Secret: I have fallen in love with a wonderful woman, but I harbor a secret I'm terrified will send her running in the other direction. Seven years ago a vengeful ex-girlfriend falsely accused me of raping and beating her. She either hurt herself or convinced someone to hurt her. I was arrested, and my parents spent most of their savings on the lawyer who finally exonerated me. Eventually the cops figured out she lied, though at that point many people at our small college saw me as a rapist. I have undergone extensive counseling and am in a much better place now, but no amount of therapy can calm my fear that when they hear my story, people will go running in the other direction. I love my girlfriend but do not know how to begin to tell her about the false rape accusation. If you are kind enough to answer this question, I seriously hope it doesn't inspire gender-bashing or hyperbole from readers. I just need advice about how to confess this secret.
A: You've been through a terrible trauma and it's something you should share with someone you love. Even though you've had therapy it sounds as if you've absorbed much of the shame that was heaped on you. Perhaps a new therapist can help free you more. Of course you want to put this behind you and not dwell on it, but a righteous indignation instead of fear should inform your feelings. Before you tell your beloved, rehearse what you want to say—you will not be convincing if you speak with an air of terror. Remember you, not your ex, were the victim. Say you want her to know about a terrible episode in your life because it's something important you experienced and because you wouldn't want her to hear a distorted version from someone else. If you have some legal paperwork about your exoneration you can offer to show her, explaining you know such cases can raise doubts in people's minds, and you don't want her to have any about you.