Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Rape Myths

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What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any form of unwanted sexual contact or activity performed on a person with any object or body part without consent or by force. Sexual assault includes nonconsensual kissing, grabbing, caressing, fondling, and oral, anal or vaginal penetration. It is also forcing someone to touch you or someone else in a sexual manner.

What are rape myths?

The false cultural beliefs about sexual violence, victims, and perpetrators that lead to victim-blaming attitudes and perceptions.

Myth

Dressing in a provocative or sexualized fashion invites violence and increases chances of being sexually assaulted.

Fact

Generally speaking, most assailants cannot remember what the victim was wearing.


Myth

People lie about being sexually assaulted.

Fact

Statistics show approximately two percent or less of sexual assaults are false reports.


Myth

Men cannot be victims of sexual violence.

Fact

Statistics show that as many as one in six men will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime.


Myth

Only strangers or criminals commit rape.

Fact

Most sexual crimes are perpetrated by someone known to the victim; acquaintances, dates, friends, co-workers and common-law or married partners.


Myth

Most sexual assaults are not planned.

Fact

As many as 75 percent reported sexual assaults are pre-meditated. Victims are targeted in advance.


Myth

Romantic partners cannot sexually assault one another.

Fact

Sexual assault can occur in an intimate partner relationship.


Myth

If a person did not scream or fight back, it probably was not sexual assault.

Fact

Many reasons could render a person unable to prevent the assault: fear of the perpetrator becoming more violent and/or personal connection to the attacker.


Myth

If the sexual assault "actually" happened, the person could easily recount all the facts in the proper order.

Fact

Shock, fear, embarrassment and distress can all impair memory. Many attempts to minimize or forget the details of the assault are a way of coping with trauma.


Myth

Consent does not matter when drugs and alcohol are involved.

Fact

Misconceptions around sexual violence and the use of alcohol and substances shift the blame to the victim/survivor, which unfairly minimizes the perpetrator's responsibility for obtaining clearly communicated consent. You do not have consent if a person is intoxicated, asleep or unconscious.


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