Rape myths

A myth is a commonly held belief or idea, that actually isn't true. Below are some common 'rape myths'

MYTH: But my partner can't rape me...

FACT: Sexual violence can happen within relationships. The offender doesn't have to be a stranger, it's actually common for the victim-survivor to know the offender in some way.

MYTH: She said it happened years ago but if it really happened she would have said something earlier...

FACT: Victim-survivors react in different ways. They may not immediately report for lots of reasons like they're scared, embarrassed, in denial, or if they know the offender, may not want to get them into trouble

MYTH: But I've had sex with them before...

FACT: Consent given in the past doesn't mean consent for all future sexual activity. You have a right to choose whether sexual activity takes place.

MYTH: But he was drunk when he did it...

FACT: It can still be sexual violence if the abuser is under the influence - even if they're drunk or using drugs they're still responsible for their actions. There's no excuse for sexual violence.

MYTH: But she was wearing a short skirt, what did she expect to happen?

FACT: Sexual violence is about power and control, not what someone looks like or wears. The victim-survivor is never to blame. Sexual violence is never okay.

MYTH: But sexual violence doesn't happen to elderly people...

FACT: Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence whatever their gender, sex, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, or age. Sexual violence is about power and control.

MYTH: But they went back to the person's house so they must have wanted to have sex...

FACT: It's never okay to assume consent - everyone has a right to choose whether sexual activity takes place and to withdraw consent at any time.

MYTH: She came home and said she was raped but if it happened she would have been crying...

FACT: There's no 'normal' response to sexual assault. Victim-survivors react in different ways.

MYTH: But he was just sexually frustrated, he didn't mean to hurt me...

FACT: It's never okay to be forced into a sexual act, even by someone you love or are in a relationship with. Sexual violence is never okay.

MYTH: She's my girlfriend and besides, it can't happen between two women...

FACT: Sexual violence can happen in any kind of relationship including same-sex relationships. Any unwanted sexual experience is sexual violence, even if you know and love the person.

MYTH: But they're in a relationship and still together...

FACT: Sexual violence can happen in relationships. Being forced into sex, even if they know and love the person, is a form of abuse. It's hard to leave an abusive relationship and people may stay for all kinds of reasons.

MYTH: But she's a little girl and he's family; if it really happened she would have told us sooner...

FACT: Not all children react the same way to sexual violence, some may tell someone straight away and others may not; grooming can influence if and when a child tells someone, or they or another family member might have been threatened.

MYTH: But women can't sexually assault men...

FACT: An offender can be male or female and may not need to overpower a victim; they may use manipulation and threatening behaviour, or the victim-survivor may have a freeze response or be incapable of giving consent.

MYTH: She sent nudes to him, of course he was going to show his friends...

FACT: It's a crime to show other people a nude photo without the permission of the person in the photo. Consent for one person to see intimate content doesn't mean they have consent to show others.

MYTH: But they're married...

FACT: Sexual violence can happen within a marriage. The victim-survivor may stay with the abuser due to fear. If they do, it doesn't mean that the sexual violence didn't happen.

MYTH: He has a disability, I don't think someone would do that to him...

FACT: Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence regardless of age, gender, sex, ethnicity, sexuality or ability.

MYTH: He's a man, if he really didn't want it to happen he could have stopped it...

FACT: There's no 'normal' reaction to sexual violence; some people may fight back and others might freeze. Some may be manipulated or threatened into sexual violence - anyone can be a victim.

MYTH: They can't even remember all the details of what happened so how can it be true?

FACT: Sexual assault can be traumatic with a high level of stress or fear. This can make it difficult to remember exactly what happened.

MYTH: But she didn't have any bruises...

FACT: In most cases of sexual violence the victim-survivor won't have any visible physical injuries. Injuries may also be internal, or there may be none at all.

MYTH: People lie all the time about rape...

FACT: False rape allegations occur at no higher an average than false allegations for any other crime.

MYTH: But I got an erection and orgasmed...

FACT: This doesn't mean you consented or even enjoyed what happened; we can't control all of our body's reactions. Any unwanted sexual experience is sexual violence.

MYTH: She's a sex worker, she can't be raped...

FACT: Sex workers have the same right as any other person to give and withdraw consent. Consent for one thing, doesn't mean consent for everything.

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