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The myths on the crime of rape

Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of ethnicity, age, class, religion, sexuality, gender, disability or lifestyle; and anyone can be an abuser.

Protect yourself - don't go out alone. Women get raped in dark alleyways, late at night. Women are raped in their homes and in their work places, where they are less likely to be believed and even less likely to report.

This myth makes women feel responsible for their assaults, as if they should have taken more care to protect themselves. But in fact, the only person who is responsible for a sexual assault is the perpetrator.

  • Men, Women and Rape;
  • Most sexual assaults occur between strangers.

Women who dress or act a certain way are 'asking for it'. Rape only happens to young, pretty women. Women and girls of all ages, cultures, and lifestyles are raped. Rape is an act of violence, not sex, and 'attractiveness' is not a factor who is or is not targeted for rape. Rapists choose women based on their vulnerability, not their physical appearance. No woman asks or deserves to be raped or sexually assaulted. Rapists use a variety of excuses to attempt to discredit the women they rape and to justify their crime.

If a person is unconscious or their judgement is impaired by alcohol or drugs, legally they are unable to give consent.

Having non-consensual sex with a person who is intoxicated is sexual assault. Often a rape case is defined more by the woman's character than by what has happened to her. Newspapers and mass media often refer to women in the roles that they have within society - 'young mother', 'grandmother', 'doctor's wife' etc.

If the woman's role or social position is not seen as socially acceptable, she is often held responsible - not the rapist.

Five myths about sexual assault

For example, the original 'Jack the Ripper' and Sutcliffe in the late 70's and 80's were glorified by the press, because their victims worked in the sex industry. The rules imposed on women's behaviour allow rapists to shift the responsibility for rape onto women wherever possible, so that most of the perpetrators who rape are seen as victims of malicious allegations, carelessness or stupidity. There is no other crime in which so much effort is expended to make the victim appear responsible - imagine the character or financial background of a robbery victim being questioned in court.

Everyone knows when a woman says no, she often means yes. Rape is a terrifying, violent and humiliating experience that no woman wants or asks for. Legally a person has the right to change their mind about having sex at any point of sexual contact.

If a sexual partner does not stop at the time a person says no, this is sexual assault.

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If a person is in a relationship with someone or has had sex with a person before, this does not mean that they cannot be assaulted by that person. Consent must be given every time two people engage in sexual contact. Sex without consent is rape. The woman did not get hurt or fight back, so it could not have been rape.

Myths & facts

Rapists will often use weapons or threats of violence to intimidate. The fact that there is no visible evidence of violence does not mean that a woman has not been raped. Faced with the reality of rape, women make second-by-second decisions, all of which are directed at minimising the harm done to them. Many freeze to avoid further physical harm, which can be a perfectly rational response to a horrific situation.

Sexual Violence Myths & Misconceptions

Men of certain races and backgrounds are more likely to commit sexual violence. There is no typical rapist. Men who commit sexual violence come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age and social group.

Men who rape or sexually assault are mentally ill. Few convicted rapists are referred for psychiatric treatment.

  • Men, women and children of all ages, races, religions, and economic classes, and can be and have been, victims of sexual assault;
  • There has been less research on perceptions of rapes of male victims, whether by women or by other men;
  • Almost all sexual assaults occur between members of the same race.

People use a variety of excuses to justify the act of rape. There is never an excuse.


Once a man is sexually aroused he cannot help himself. He has to have sex.

Men can easily control their sexual urges. Most rapes are premeditated - wholly or partially planned in advance. Rape is an act of violence, not sexual gratification. Men who rape or sexually assault do so to dominate, violate and control. Men who rape are as likely as any other man to be cohabiting or having a significant relationship with a woman. More than one in five women are raped by their partners or their husbands.

Women who work as prostitutes or in the sex industry are usually dismissed as rape victims because of bias by the police, criminal justice system, juries and society in general. Women make up stories about being raped.

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Reporting to the police can be a difficult decision. There are many myths that underlie the belief that women make false and malicious allegations of rape against innocent men. Women cannot rape other women. The legal definition of rape involves penetration with a penis, but anyone can commit sexual assault.

This can make it difficult for these survivors to access services or justice.

  1. Sexual assault is a crime, never simply a mistake. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
  2. That male rape is victim's fault. Faced with the reality of rape, women make second-by-second decisions, all of which are directed at minimising the harm done to them.
  3. Rape is an act of violence, not sexual gratification.
  4. This reduced reporting of crimes might present a rosy picture and would further the problem, by leading to beliefs that these crimes that are reported are fake, false, or unlikely to be true.
  5. She writes, "Women are no more important than any other potential victims, but we are the primary targets of the messages and myths that sustain rape culture.

Sex workers cannot be raped. Sex workers have the same right to consent, and to withhold and withdraw consent that anyone else has.

  • Sexual offenders come from all educational, occupational, racial and cultural backgrounds;
  • Men can easily control their sexual urges;
  • He has to have sex.

Non-consensual sex with a sex worker is rape. Having paid for sex does not entitle anyone to rape another person. Despite this, bias against sex workers on the part of the police, criminal justice system, juries and society in general means that sex workers who have experienced rape or sexual assault often struggle to be recognised as survivors.