There are many commonly-held myths and misconceptions around sexual violence. These can lead to an increased prevalence of these instances, poor support for victim/ survivors, and/ or incorrect outcomes in formal reporting procedures.
Here are some common myths and misconceptions, and the truths to provide the correct information. See our Twitter feed (@UniOfLeics_ST) for more. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more you'd like us to add.
Myth: It’s only rape if someone is physically forced into sex and has the injuries to show for it
Fact: Many people who are sexually attacked are unable to move or speak from fear and shock. They may be in a coercive or
controlling relationship with their rapist, and/or too young to give consent (under 16). Sex without consent is rape. Just because
someone doesn't have visible injuries doesn't mean they weren't raped.
Myth: If two people have had sex with each other before, it's always OK to have sex again.
Fact: Consent must be given and received every time two people engage in sexual contact, even if a person is in a relationship
with someone or has had sex with them before.
Myth: People who were sexually abused as children are likely to become abusers themselves.
Fact: The vast majority of those who are sexually abused as children will never perpetrate sexual violence against others. There is no
excuse or explanation for sexual violence against children or adults.
Myth: Women are most likely to be raped after dark by a stranger, so women shouldn't go out alone at night.
Fact: Around 90% of rapes are committed by known men, and often by someone who the survivor has previously trusted or even loved.
People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they previously felt safe. Rapists can be friends, colleagues,
clients, neighbours, family members, partners or exes.
Myth: People often lie about being raped because they regret having sex with someone or for attention.
Fact: False allegations of rape are very rare. Most victims and survivors never report to the police. One reason for this is the fear of not
being believed. It's really important we challenge this myth so those who've been through sexual violence can get the support and justice
they need and deserve.
Myth: When it comes to sex, women and girls sometimes 'play hard to get' and say 'no' when they really mean 'yes'.
Fact: Everyone has the legal right to say 'no' to sex and to change their mind about having sex at any point of sexual contact; if the other person
doesn't stop, they are committing sexual assault or rape.
Myth: Alcohol, drugs, stress or depression can turn people into rapists.
Fact: Drugs and alcohol are never the cause of rape or sexual assault. It is the attacker who is committing the crime, not the drugs or alcohol.
Myth: Men of certain races and backgrounds are more likely to commit sexual violence.
Fact: There is no typical rapist. People who commit sexual violence come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age and social group.
Myth: Men don't get raped and women don't commit sexual offences.
Fact: Men are also raped and sexually assaulted. Often people who've been sexually assaulted or abused by a woman worry they won't be
believed or their experiences won't be considered 'as bad'. This can make it difficult for these survivors to access services or justice.