I know what it is like to be accused of something I did not do. Obviously, when I was on the street I was an automatic suspect if something went missing. You don’t want to hear that boring story. A more interesting story is the one I have to tell about bizarre accusations. People have hang ups, we know this . But what I seldom hear is the tendency people have of expressing their hang ups in accusations. For example, I was adopted by a couple who had adopted two older kids, and who took in foster children. It was her idea, I am sure. He was pretty indifferent to me and the other adopted kids and foster kids who came through his house. He never spoke to anyone but me, and that is because from the age of 3, I demanded attention. I used to say I needed my daily dose of hugs and kisses. I always greeted the man I knew as my Daddy with enthusiasm–I got a running start and leapt into his arms when he returned home from work. I followed him around like a puppy when he put his things away. When he was done with dinner I sat in his lap while he reclined in the Lazy Boy. When he fell asleep I tried to match my breathing to his but his breaths were top deep and long. What did his wife make of this touching scenario? From the time I was 4 she accused me of… I knew not what. From what I could figure as a small child, I had done something bad, really bad. But that is all I could grasp. Later I understood that the thought I was trying to seduce her husband. For the record, I did not try to seduce her husband. Her suspicions about me, a small child, were rooted in her mind not my act Being accused of something you did not do, and no matter what your every move looks suspicious…well, I cannot tell you the helpless rage I felt. I cut her out of my life, as a teenager. This move might have been necessary. I had nothing in my playbook but avoidance. Avoidance was necessary at the time. But what was not necessary was all my rage. Crazy allegations come from the other person’s suffering. It is imperative that you immediately move away from defensiveness and into acceptance of the reality. What reality?
You cannot convince the accuser of your innocence. The more you try the guiltier you will look. There is a thinking error known as confirmation bias. Whatever a person sees simply confirms what she already believes. For example: why aren’t you protesting more? An innocent person would fight allegations? Then you argue your case. Why are you getting so upset? An innocent person would not let words get to him. You absolutely cannot win. Know that you cannot win and know it so well that you stop trying and taking it one step further, you do not feel the need to try for victory. and it is not about you. Do not waste your time and energy on the irrational. Stop protesting, abandon arguments. No one hears your words anyway.
Adulthood brought compassion
Now, years later, I can feel compassion for a woman who must have had a horrendous childhood to develop a fixation like her focus on sex and children. How horrible. I cannot imagine reaching out to this person who terrified me when I was a child (picture Monique’s character in the movie Precious). But you might have a person who would respond favorably if you take her by the hand and say something soft and comforting. Put aside your own anger and try it. Even if you can extend compassion know it won’t change the accuser’s mind. Compassion can take the sting out of the allegations for you, though. When you feel their pain you feel your own pain less. Maybe that is a self interested take on empathy but it is a truism nevertheless. Do not waste time trying to persuade. Simply view them with kindness and get out if there if you must.
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