Mental Illness Is Not Evidence Against Abuse Allegations

ETA: this post was pretty much re­futed by com­ments be­low.

I’ve no­ticed a situ­a­tion sev­eral times that I think de­serves at­ten­tion.

Some­body goes around say­ing they’ve been the vic­tim of mis­treat­ment. But they seem men­tally ill. Whether or not you know of a di­ag­no­sis, they seem “off” some­how—highly ag­i­tated, mak­ing so­cial faux pas, tel­ling sto­ries that don’t quite add up. So peo­ple are very sus­pi­cious about whether their alle­ga­tions are true.

Is this ra­tio­nal?

In gen­eral, some­one who seems less trust­wor­thy should be be­lieved less. And, yes, men­tally ill peo­ple are more likely to be delu­sional or ex­ag­ger­at­ing. But they are also more likely to ac­tu­ally be vic­tims of crimes than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

40% of women in the UK with se­vere men­tal ill­ness are vic­tims of rape or at­tempted rape.

Peo­ple with se­vere men­tal ill­ness are 6x as likely as the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion to have re­cently ex­pe­rienced sex­ual vi­o­lence.

30% of men­tally ill adults in an Amer­i­can study had been vic­tims of vi­o­lent crime in the pre­vi­ous six months.

Men­tally ill adults in Swe­den are 5x more likely than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion to be mur­dered.

More than 25% of severely men­tally ill Amer­i­cans have been the vic­tims of a vi­o­lent crime in the last year, 4x the rate of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

30-33% of psy­chi­a­tric pa­tients have been vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Some­one be­ing men­tally ill is ev­i­dence for, not against, their be­ing vic­tims of a crime. And the base rates of vi­o­lent crime are pretty high, so all things be­ing equal, “some­one at­tacked me” is not an ex­traor­di­nary claim. Even when some­one seems crazy and has made a lot of claims you don’t be­lieve, it can be rea­son­able to be­lieve their claims of crime vic­tim­iza­tion. Don’t fall into the horns effect.