There are many myths and prejudices which hide the truth about rape. Myths disguise the truth which is:
All women, from young children to very old women, are vulnerable to sexual assault. Boys and men get raped.
The only person responsible is the person who commits the crime.
We carry the following messages around in our heads, and, if we are raped, we can often feel ashamed, guilty and responsible for the attack.
Myth: “Nice women don’t get raped”
Fact: There is actually no such thing as a particular “kind of woman” who gets raped. Women of all ages, classes, races, religions and marital status are raped.
Myth: “When a woman says no she really means yes”, or that “she enjoyed it”, that she even “asked for it”
Fact: Rape is a deeply humiliating and terrifying experience that no woman ever asks for or enjoys.
Myth: “Rape is accepted in Aboriginal culture”
Fact: No culture finds rape acceptable.
Myth: “Men rape because they get sexually aroused and then can’t control themselves”
Fact: Many rapists have admitted to planning the rape ahead of time.
Myth: “Rape is about sex”
Fact: Rape is not about sex. It is about power, violence and intimidation. This particular myth keeps sexual assault in the sphere of sex and minimizes the responsibility of the rapist for the crime. Men can, and mostly, do take responsibility for their sexual activity in our community.
Myth: “Rapists wait on dark corners before attacking unsuspecting women”
Fact: The reality is that perpetrators of sexual violence are usually known and that most sexual assaults take place in the home. They can also take place in a car or vehicle (including public transport), workplace, school, social associations, or religious institutions. There is no psychological profile for people who use sexual violence. People who use sexual violence against others can be from any cultural or ethnic background, socio-economic status and any profession.
There are other myths that concern particular groups of women, such as women with a developmental or psychiatric disability, lesbian women, Aboriginal women, and women from non-English speaking cultures.
It is important to understand that myths exist because they shift the blame for sexual assault from the men who rape to the women, children and men who are raped.
Myths about rape distort the truth – that sexual assault is a crime committed by men who are husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins, friends, acquaintances as well as strangers and from all professions such as doctors, teachers and priests.
It is important for all people to challenge the myths about sexual assault so that survivors of sexual assault are not made to feel as if it is their fault. It is important that people understand the truth about sexual assault so that survivors receive the help and support they need.