Myths about rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and other forms of sexual violence hold a lot of power in our society. And that’s dangerous because these myths do serious harm. They can cause victims and survivors to feel shame or to blame themselves for what happened, and make it difficult for them to talk about or get help. These myths can also affect how victims and survivors are treated by services and organizations that should be there to help them and even by their own family and friends.
Here are some of the most common myths and facts about rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and other types of sexual violence.
People/victims who drink or take drugs deserve it if they get raped.
Fact: No one is ever to blame for being raped or sexually assaulted it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. Raping or sexually assaulting someone is always a crime and 100% of the blame, shame and responsibility for that crime lies with the perpetrator or perpetrators.
Most people lie about being raped because they want attention or revenge or regret having had sex with someone.
Fact: False allegations of rape are extremely rare. In fact, most people who are raped or experience another form of sexual violence never tell the police.
If he/she/they didn’t scream, try to run away or fight back then it wasn’t rape.
Fact: It’s really common for people who experience rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse or other types of sexual violence to find they can’t move or speak. This is one of our bodies automatic responses to fear and is designed to keep us safe. It’s also one of the reasons why lots of people don’t have visible injuries after experiencing rape or another form of sexual violence.
If he/she/they didn’t say ‘no’ then it wasn’t rape.
Fact: Not saying ‘no’ is not the same as someone giving their consent. If someone seems unsure, stays quiet, moves away or doesn’t respond, they are not agreeing to sexual activity.
It’s not rape if it’s your partner
Fact: Rape is always rape. If someone wants to take part in any kind of sexual activity with another person then they must get their consent every single time. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been together as a couple for 50 years if the other person doesn’t consent, it’s rape. And it’s illegal.
Most people are ‘asking for it’ if they wear revealing clothes or flirt.
Fact: people have the right to wear whatever they want and behave however they want without being raped or sexually assaulted. As does everyone. There is never any excuse for rape or sexual assault.
Once a man gets turned on he can’t help himself he has to have sex.
Fact: There is absolutely no scientific basis in this myth. Men can control themselves, just like women. Rape in any circumstances is a serious crime and there is never any excuse for it.
People often play ‘hard to get’ and say ‘no’ when they really mean ‘yes’.
Fact: Everyone should always be listened to and believed when it comes to sex. Everyone has the right to change their mind at any point during sexual activity and it’s not up to anyone else to decide what someone wants only they can do that. So, if someone says ‘no’, respect their wishes.
Victims and survivors should act a certain way after being raped.
Fact: Everyone responds differently to rape and other types of sexual violence, and there’s no right or wrong way to be or to feel afterwards. It’s common for people to feel numb after a traumatic event like rape or sexual assault. And some people don’t feel the effects of trauma until a long time after a traumatic event has happened.