Myths and common beliefs

If someone doesn’t want to be raped they won’t be

Rape is an act of power and control, it is not an act of just sexual gratification.   Very often the victim is frozen with fear, unable to scream, shout, or run away; they are too shocked and frightened to fight.  Even though no weapon is used, victims often report that they feared for their life, or that they would be hurt and injured.   If the victim is incapacitated through drink they are not able to give consent and often unaware of what is happening.  If they are a child they are even more powerless.

Rape is usually committed by strangers

As shown under ‘Facts about Sexual Violence’ most rapes are committed by someone the victim knew – and therefore more likely to trust.  The assault often takes place in their own home, or that of the offender.  Stranger rape is rare, but it is highly reported in the media so people think it is more common than it is.

If someone is raped they should report it

There are many reasons why people don’t report and sometimes don’t tell anyone about it.  Fear, shame, disbelief, shock; worried they won’t be believed (particularly if the offender is someone they know), anxiety about the police and court process; sometimes not knowing how to report it or tell someone – if they don’t speak English, or they are young, or disabled.  Sometimes they worry about the reactions from family, friends or communities;  they may depend on the offender financially and for a roof over their head; they may be in fear of violence from the offender – the victim may also be experiencing domestic abuse.

Only young attractive women get raped

The facts totally disprove this; women in their 90s have been raped; children are raped; whether you are fat, thin, young, old, pretty or plain, it makes no difference.  This is because rape is not an act of sexual attraction, it is an act of power and control.

Some people ask for it

Because they were drunk/wore provocative clothing/out late at night/waited too long to say no/seduced their attacker – rape is a terrifying and shocking experience and no one asks for it.  Making these excuses shifts the burden of responsibility away from the offender and on to the victim.  It doesn’t matter what excuse or reason the offender may have –people have the right to change their mind at any time.  If the victim did not legally consent (they must be in a fit state to consent) it is rape.

Men who are raped and men who rape other men must be gay

Men can use the act of rape to punish, humiliate and control other men and it doesn’t matter if they are gay or straight.  A gay man who is raped may not report it because he fears that he won’t be believed, or that he will be judged because he is gay, or that he will be ‘outed’.  A male victim who is not gay may fear that he will be assumed to be gay, or thought weak and less manly because he allowed himself to be raped.

Women often make false allegations

Statistics show that the rate of false allegations for sexual offences is the same as for other areas of crime; however, when someone is prosecuted for false allegations it is widely reported in the media, so just like the myth about stranger rape, people come to believe that it is a bigger problem than it really is.

Once a man has been sexually aroused he cannot control himself and shouldn’t be asked to stop

This implies that men have no control over their own bodies, which is patent nonsense.  Any man who is interrupted by the call of ‘fire!’ will immediately stop, whatever stage of sexual activity he is in, and prepare to exit the building.