Twelve myths about rape and sexual assault


Questions

  1. MYTH: 'The police won't believe me'
  2. MYTH: 'Most rapists are strangers'
  3. MYTH: ‘Male rape doesn’t happen’
  4. MYTH: 'An individual was raped because of what they were wearing and how they were acting’
  5. MYTH: 'All rape victims will have visible injuries like cuts and bruises and torn clothes'
  6. MYTH: 'A rape victim always needs to say NO to show they don't consent'
  7. MYTH: ‘Men who are sexually assaulted by another man must be homosexual’
  8. MYTH: ‘Male rape is a gay crime’
  9. MYTH: ‘I know someone who has been raped, but is not comfortable about going to the police'
  10. MYTH: 'Women frequently lie about rape’
  11. MYTH: 'Rape cannot happen in a relationship or marriage
  12. MYTH: Men are less affected by sexual assault than women, so don’t need help and support

Answers

MYTH 1: 'The police won't believe me'

FACT: We take all reports of rape and sexual assault seriously irrespective of whether you are male, female, young or old or how long ago the attack occurred. We are committed to supporting victims of this traumatic crime.

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MYTH 2: 'Most rapists are strangers'

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 80% of sexual assaults and rapes in Devon and Cornwall during 2007/8, the victim already knew their attacker.

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MYTH 3: ‘Male rape doesn’t happen’

FACT: Men can also be victims of sexual assault and rape.

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MYTH 4: 'An individual was raped because of what they were wearing and how they were acting’

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. We do not judge individuals. We do investigate rape as a serious violent crime.

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MYTH 5: 'All rape victims will have visible injuries like cuts and bruises and torn clothes'

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 with violence or weapons, and they take decisions to limit the harm being done to them. This may include limiting their resistance due to the fear of further violence. Shock or fear of the attacker might also cause victims to freeze during an attack.

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MYTH 6: 'A rape victim always needs to say NO to show they don't consent' 

FACT: We know that due to shock and fear some individuals will ‘freeze’ during an attack.  We will always consider any reasons that might have prevented a victim from saying 'no'.

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MYTH 7: ‘Men who are sexually assaulted by another man must be homosexual’

FACT:  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.

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MYTH 8: ‘Male rape is a gay crime’

FACT:  Research indicates that the majority of sexual offences committed on men are carried out by heterosexual men.

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MYTH 9: ‘I know someone who has been raped, but is not comfortable about going to the police'

FACT: If you are aware of an someone that’s been raped or sexually assaulted, we urge you to contact us, so that we can prevent other people from being attacked in the future. If anyone is uncomfortable about talking to police, they can always contact the sexual assault referral centre (SARC’s), or other agencies such as Victim Support to get advice (go to our ‘Help and support’ page for more information).

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MYTH 10: 'Women frequently lie about 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.

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MYTH 11: 'Rape cannot happen in a relationship or marriage

FACT: Rape or sexual assault is still a crime when it occurs in a relationship between two straight or gay partners. If your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, husband or wife has forced you into having sex with them, we will treat the matter as seriously as we would for all other rapes and sexual assaults.

Consent must be given every time two people engage in sexual contact. Sex without consent is rape.

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MYTH 12: Men are less affected by sexual assault than women, so don’t need help and support

FACT: Rape and sexual assault are traumatic for both men and women, all survivors should be able to access appropriate help and support.


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