Common Myths about Rape
MYTH: Rape only happens to women
FACT: Men can be, and are, raped and sexually assaulted. Male rape is also not confined to homosexual relationships. Sexual assault is an act of violence, it’s about power, control or domination of another person, rather than a sexual attraction to one specific gender. Research indicates that the majority of sexual offences committed on men are carried out by heterosexual men.
MYTH: Rape is most likely to be committed by a stranger in a dark alleyway
FACT: Because the media has to give anonymity in media appeals for witnesses, many people think that most rapes are undertaken by strangers in dark alleyways late at night. The truth is that in more than 85% of cases, the rapists are known to the victim: often a partner or former partner, friend, colleague, acquaintance or professional.
MYTH: They did not scream or fight back – it can’t have been rape
FACT: The fact that there is no visible evidence of violence does not mean that a victim has not been assaulted or raped. Victims are often threatened and so they take decisions to limit the harm being done to them. This may include limiting their resistance due to the fear of further violence, or even death. Shock or fear of the attacker might also cause victims to freeze or be completely compliant during an attack.
MYTH: Lots of women falsely accuse men of rape
FACT: A major Home Office research project in 2000-2003 concluded that only three per cent of rape allegations were false. In fact, it is thought that only one fifth of actual rapes are reported to the police.
MYTH: Women do not sexually assault other women
FACT: A woman cannot rape another woman as rape involves penile penetration. However women can, and do, commit assault by penetration and other forms of sexual assault. Female Perpetrators, though less common, do exist and their crimes have the same devastating effect on the lives of their victims.
MYTH: She was drunk, flirting, wearing next-to nothing...she was asking for it...she must have consented!
FACT: How an individual is dressed or how they were acting (e.g. acting flirtatiously or dancing provocatively), does not mean someone deserves to be the victim of an act of violence. If a man flashed his bulging wallet around in a pub and then had it stolen, no one would say that the person who stole it was not really a thief.
MYTH: A genuine rape victim will report the rape immediately
FACT: When an individual is subjected to extreme stress, psychological mechanisms are evoked in an attempt to cope with this stress. Some people also fear not being believed, going to court and in many cases the repercussions for their family/social life when the perpetrator is known to the victim.