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Myths & facts about sexual violence

There are lots of myths about sexual violence - we help dispel those myths and give you the facts.

Myth: Sexual violence isn’t common and doesn’t happen to people like me

Fact: Statistics show that nearly one in four women worldwide will experience an incident of sexual violence in their lifetime, and affects survivors across barriers of age, class, race and sexual orientation. Sexual violence happens to people of all genders and everyone who has experienced sexual violence should be believed, validated and supported. However, we also acknowledge that sexual violence happens within a patriarchal system that specifically oppresses women and LGBT people, and so women and LGBT people experience significantly higher rates of sexual violence.

Myth: Rape is mostly perpetrated by strangers

Fact: The vast majority of survivors supported in Rape Crisis Centres were raped by someone who was previously known to them. The truth is that most rapists are not monsters but rather normal men.

Myth: It’s only rape if involves physical force and the survivor has injuries

Fact: Sometimes people who are raped sustain internal and/or external injuries and sometimes they don't. Rapists will sometimes use weapons or threats of violence to prevent a physical struggle or sometimes they will take advantage of someone who isn't able to consent, because they are drunk or asleep for example. Many people who are sexually attacked are unable to move or speak from fear and shock. Just because someone doesn't have visible injuries doesn't mean they weren't raped.

Myth: Women are putting themselves at risk if they drink too much or wear revealing clothing

Fact: Survivors of sexual violence are never to blame for the abuse they have experienced. The choice to commit a sexually violent act is made by perpetrators, and at FVRCC we will never blame you for what you have experienced. There is no evidence that a woman is more likely to be raped based on the clothes she is wearing or whether she has had a drink.

Myth: It’s not possible to experience sexual violence from your partner

Fact: No one has the right to sexually touch you without your permission, even if you have had sex with them before. If your partner has sex with you without you when you didn’t want to, then this is rape.

Myth: If someone is really attacked, they would fight back.

Fact: The body responds to threat in one of three ways: fight, flight or freeze. The ‘freeze’ response is very common in sexual violence and is a natural biological reaction to facing an overwhelming threat.

Myth: If someone was really raped, they would tell someone

Fact: There are many reasons why survivors of sexual violence may not tell other people about it. They may fear being disbelieved, they may have been threatened or they may fear repercussion from making a disclosure about a friend or family member. It can be a long process to acknowledge that you have experienced sexual violence, and take even longer to tell someone else about it. If someone is brave enough to tell you that they have experienced sexual violence, you should be clear that you believe and support them and won’t put any pressure on them to do anything they don’t want to do.

Myth: Women lie about being raped

Fact: The evidence shows that false allegations of rape are no more common than false allegations of any other crime. Cases may not proceed to court because of high evidentiary requirements, but this does not mean that the survivor was lying. Talking about rape and sexual violence can be really scary and it takes a lot of courage to do it.

Myth: Men don’t experience sexual violence and women never perpetrate it

Fact: The evidence shows that around 8% of men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, particularly when they are children. Most men are sexually abused by other men. At FVRCC we provide a support and advocacy service for survivors of all genders.

The vast majority of sexual violence is perpetrated by men, however there are some female perpetrators and at FVRCC we will support you regardless of the gender of the perpetrator.

We will always believe you.

Myth: If a person is aroused when they are assaulted then it is not really sexual violence

Fact: Orgasm or arousal does not mean that someone “enjoyed” the sex, or that they wanted it. Orgasm can be a natural biological reaction that someone can’t control; it does not mean that forced or coerced sexual activity was consensual and often this is used to silence the survivor.

Myth: Men of certain races or sexual backgrounds are more likely to be rapists

Fact: There is no evidence to indicate this. Men of all races, ages and backgrounds can perpetrate sexual violence.

Myth: Having mental health problems or addictions makes men rapists

Fact: There is never an excuse for sexual violence and neither mental health problems nor addictions turn men into rapists. Rape is a choice that is made by a perpetrator.


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