Let’s debunk Ten Myths and Facts About Sexual Violence

Myth 1: “Sexual Violence Only Happens to Women”

Fact: Sexual violence affects individuals of all genders.

Sexual violence is not limited to any specific gender. Men, women, and individuals of diverse gender identities can all be victims of sexual violence. Acknowledging and addressing the experiences of all survivors is essential for creating comprehensive support systems.

Myth 2: “Most Sexual Assaults are Committed by Strangers”

Fact: A significant number of sexual assaults are perpetrated by acquaintances, friends and family.

Contrary to popular belief, many sexual assaults are committed by individuals known to the victim, such as friends, partners, or family members. This underscores the importance of consent and boundaries in all types of relationships.

Myth 3: “Victims Always Physically Resist During an Assault”

Fact: Victims may respond in various ways, including freezing or complying out of fear.

People’s responses to trauma vary, and it’s not uncommon for victims to experience a “fight, flight, or freeze” response during an assault. Freezing or complying doesn’t indicate consent; it can be a survival strategy in a threatening situation.

Myth 4: “If a Person Doesn’t Say ‘No,’ it’s Not Rape”

Fact: Consent is about clear and enthusiastic agreement, not the absence of a specific word.

Consent is an ongoing process that requires active communication and mutual agreement. Consent cannot be assumed; it must be given freely, without pressure or coercion, and can be revoked at any time.

Myth 5: “Wearing Certain Clothes or Acting a Certain Way Invites Sexual Violence”

Fact: Clothing and behavior do not justify or cause sexual violence.

Sexual violence is solely the responsibility of the perpetrator. No one “asks for it” by their clothing or behavior. Blaming survivors perpetuates victim-blaming culture and detracts from addressing the root causes of the problem.

Myth 6: “Only ‘Violent’ Assaults Count as Sexual Violence”

Fact: Sexual violence encompasses a wide range of behaviors, from verbal harassment to physical assault.

Sexual violence includes not only physical assault but also any unwelcome or non-consensual sexual behavior, such as catcalling, unwanted touching, and sharing explicit materials without consent.

Myth 7: “False Reports of Sexual Violence are Common”

Fact: False reports of sexual violence are rare and similar to false reports of other crimes.

Research consistently shows that false reports of sexual violence are no more common than false reports of other crimes. The focus should remain on supporting survivors and creating a safe environment for reporting.

Myth 8: “Alcohol or Drugs Excuse Perpetrators of Sexual Violence”

Fact: Intoxication does not justify or excuse sexual violence. Consent remains paramount.

Being under the influence of substances does not absolve someone of responsibility for their actions. The key factor is whether all parties involved are capable of giving and receiving informed and enthusiastic consent.

Myth 9: “Married or Committed Partners Can’t Be Rapists”

Fact: Consent is needed in all relationships, regardless of marital status or commitment.

Spouses and partners must still seek and obtain consent before engaging in any sexual activity. Marital or relationship status does not negate the importance of consent.

Myth 10: “Reporting Sexual Violence is Pointless; Justice is Rarely Served”

Fact: Reporting can lead to justice, healing, and the prevention of future assaults.

While the legal process can be challenging, reporting sexual violence can bring closure to survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and contribute to preventing future incidents.