Myths About Rape

Check out the reality behind the myth:

A Home Office survey into reported cases of rape showed that only 7% of rapes were carried out by a stranger (British Crime Survey 2013). Of the remaining 93%, 45% were current partners and the rest were acquaintances.

It can happen to anyone - male or female. It happens to people of any age, class, race, ethnic origin, sexuality and religion.

There are many reasons why people do not tell anyone what has happened to them, or do not leave home to escape domestic sexual assault.

They may be afraid of not being believed and that people will think badly of them.

They may have nowhere to go, their children or family may be threatened, they may be afraid of splitting up the family.

The thought of going through the trauma attached to reporting to the police and attending court can frighten many preventing them from telling anyone.

A woman may dress to appear attractive and fashionable, but rapists do not look for victims who dress in a particular way. They target those they perceive as vulnerable. Rape is usually about power and violence and not sexual gratification. Assuming that women provoke attacks by what they do or the way they dress is victim-blaming. No person, whatever their dress or behaviour, "deserves" to be raped.

Victims of sexual violence exhibit a spectrum of responses to an assault. These can include calm, hysteria, withdrawal, anger, apathy, denial and shock. Being sexually assaulted is a very traumatic and reactions vary with each person. There is no “normal way” to react.

Positive emotional and practical support offered by family and friends will help a victim. However, sometimes the people that a victim relies on behave in unsupportive or negative ways. This can include worrying more about themselves than the victim, blaming the victim, withdrawing from the victim or behaving in a hostile manner, attaching a stigma to the rape and demanding secrecy from the victim.

Rapists are not physically identifiable. They may appear friendly, normal, and non-threatening. They may be young or old, married or have children.

In a study of 1300 convicted offenders in the US, few were diagnosed as mentally or emotionally ill. Most were well-adjusted, but had a greater tendency to express their anger through violence and rage.

Although little reliable research has been done into false allegations of rape, it is commonly held that figures are no different than for false allegations in other crimes.

Remember: The British legal justice system is based upon the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. In order to prove a case they may need to undergo an intimate medical examination; they will be asked questions of an intimate nature by strangers i.e. police officers, doctors, barristers, judges; they will often have a long wait before any court proceedings start; and when they do start they will have to ‘re-live’ their experience over again. Many women choose to withdraw the complaint once they realise what they face. Others withdraw a complaint of rape, as they fear reprisals from the attacker particularly when it is an acquaintance (93% of rape is by an acquaintance).

Choosing not to proceed with a complaint does not make the original allegation false!

Drinking itself, and not drink spiking, may be behind the vast majority of drug rapes. Of 391 victims who gave samples within 12 hours of an assault – when alcohol could still be detected in the samples – 56% of victims had consumed enough alcohol to be deemed drunk, with at least 150 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. While some victims may have had their drinks spiked with sedatives, excessive alcohol consumption plays a more significant role in sexual assault than previously thought.

This view compounds the common belief that rape is about sex. In gang culture (predominantly male) rape is sometimes used as a weapon to control gang members as well as to defeat and humiliate other gangs. Soldiers have been instructed to use rape to defeat opposing sides. Straight men will rape other men to feel powerful.

Those who work in the sex industry are more at risk of abuse, sometimes due to the attitude of those who use the service. Working in prostitution creates an extra barrier to reporting, and a significant number of prostitutes are trafficked into the job which includes other forms of abuse.