It’s because of false accusations that discussing rape has always been a sensitive subject in our society. As a society, we don’t want to assume that all accusations of rape or false; but on the other hand, we know that false accusations can and do happen in this country and even in our state.

This was a point that was briefly highlighted in the movie “Gone Girl,” an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel with the same title. For those who have not seen the movie, there is a scene in which Ben Affleck’s character meets up with his missing wife’s ex-boyfriend to ask him about a rape allegation she made against the ex in the past.

As far as Affleck’s character knows, his wife was attacked. But after hearing the ex’s side of the story, it becomes apparent that this was not the case at all and that the sexual encounter was consensual.

As an audience member, we immediately know that the ex-boyfriend’s version of events is the truth because we have seen the wife’s manipulation and deceit. Unlike the movies though, police in real life must give victims the benefit of the doubt when hearing their claims, making decisions about truthfulness based on evidence in the case.

Jumping to conclusions without first considering each person’s account of the incident and the evidence in the case can lead to far-reaching problems, including wrongful convictions and damage to an accused person’s reputation. In “Gone Girl,” as well as in a number of states across the nation, rape charges can lead to sex offender registration and restrictions on where a person can live and what jobs they can have.

Even though screenwriters and directors oftentimes exaggerate the outcomes of certain crimes to add excitement to a movie, the damage to the ex-boyfriend’s reputation in “Gone Girl” was not far from what could happen in real life. A person’s life can be changed forever by a sexual offense charge, which is why it’s important for law enforcement across the nation to handle these cases carefully and not to rush to conclusions too quickly.

Source: The Washington Post, “‘Gone Girl’ breaks through our deadlocked discussion of false rape allegations,” Alyssa Rosenberg, Oct. 6, 2014