Every day, you probably witness at least one instance where a person or organization is accused of wrongdoing. The accusation could be dropped as part of a casual conversation with a friend, made during a department meeting at the office or be presented before the courts. But have you ever paused to wonder whether the accusation is true? Or more importantly, what the enduring damage could be for the accused, if it is false?
Many people will be accused of doing something wrong at some point in their lives. The accusation may even be made when you are not at fault. If this happens to you, it is important to note that you can sue the accuser for libel or defamation. If you find yourself falsely accused, you have to take it seriously. If not, here are five of the many negative repercussions that can occur.
Stigma from Damaged Reputation
When you are falsely accused, the first thing to suffer is your personal reputation. You will feel stigmatized by anyone who has heard about the false claim. Your societal standing is compromised and you may be under a cloud of suspicion from others. You feel labelled and vilified by society. Unfortunately, your guilt is often presumed before, during, and after the investigation. Strangers may even harass you or your friends may avoid you.
Other than stigma from others, you may also suffer from self-stigma. This comes from both an abhorrence of the thing you are accused of, as well as frustration from not having the power to completely clear your name. You may be caught in a struggle between fighting the allegations and isolating yourself from the shame.
A false accusation has an impact on your psychological and physical health. This may leave you unable to fulfill your responsibilities at home, work and in your community. Some people suffer from depressive disorders and episodes following the allegations. Panic attacks and anxiety disorders may also develop.
You may experience disruption to your sleep, struggle with insomnia or be plagued by nightmares. Concern about society not believing your side of the story despite it being the truth can also lead to eating problems, high blood pressure, stress, irritability, anger and substance addiction.
Difficult Interpersonal Relationships
A wrongful accusation can cause you to feel isolated, uncommunicative and socially withdrawn from your community. This is sometimes due to the fear of being a burden and embarrassment to your friends and family. You may struggle to adjust to being around others. False allegations may cause a reluctance to establish close relationships as well, due to a fear of rejection if the other party eventually learns about the allegation.
There may be strain or estrangement in relationships with your partner, parents, siblings and children. Divorce and the subsequent loss of custody over your children is a real possibility.
Impact on Employment and Finances
The loss of reputation and relationships inevitably leads to a negative impact on your finances. Many organizations will be quick to distance themselves from an employee accused of wrongdoing in order to protect their own reputation. Therefore, job loss is a real risk. There may be constraints in finding new work due to your tarnished reputation. It may be difficult to obtain references when applying for a new job.
Expect significant losses in income, diminished savings and increased financial pressure on your spouse, business partners and other immediate family. You may have to rely on financial support from family and friends. Not only that, there may be legal costs as you grapple with clearing your name in court. In extreme cases, some have had to sell their homes and other assets to cover the large and abrupt income shortfall.
Move Quickly To Clear Your Name
These repercussions are just a snapshot of the potential consequences you can face from a false allegation. Fortunately, they are not insurmountable. They can be greatly mitigated through prompt legal action. Therefore, when faced with a wrongful accusation, it is vital that you move with speed to quickly clear your name and avoid the many negative repercussions.