Myth 1: Nice girls don’t get raped.
Fact 1: Girls and women from every age group, culture and socio-economic background, are sexually assaulted. Victims of sexual violence are targeted not because of their beliefs, morals, behaviour or dress but because of their vulnerability and relative lack of power to escape violent behaviour. For example, children, young women, elderly women, and people with disabilities and psychiatric illnesses are more likely to be targeted by perpetrators.
Myth 2: Some women ask to be sexually assaulted by suggestive behaviour and clothing.
Facts 2: In all circumstances, the responsibility for all forms of sexual violence lies with the perpetrator. No woman wants to be raped or enjoys it. Sexual violence is never OK. Women should have the freedom to wear what they like and express themselves however they choose without the fear of sexual assault.
Myth 3: Children and young women make up stories about being sexually abused.
Fact 3: Women and children rarely lie about sexual assault and abuse. In fact the majority of women and children do not disclose rape or abuse until some time, often years, after it occurred. Some of the reasons for this include:
- Fear of not being believed
- Fear the people will blame them rather than the perpetrator
- A wish to forget a very traumatic and distressing experience
Myth 4: Children are flirtatious and seduce adults into having sex with them.
Fact 4: Nothing a child ever does can justify childhood sexual abuse. The perpetrator of childhood sexual abuse is always solely responsible for his behaviour. The age of consent (16 years) is there to protect children from sexual exploitation in recognition of the significant power differential between adults and children.
Myth 5: Men rape and sexually assault women because they can’t control their sexual appetites.
Fact 5: Rape and sexual assault are not about sexual drive or desire, they are violent, criminal acts of power and control over another person. Studies have shown that, in most instances, sexual assault is not usually spontaneous or impulsive. They show that rape is generally premeditated and often involves a period of interaction with the victim beforehand. Furthermore, although the sexual assault may sometimes be opportunistic, abuse is always a deliberate and calculated act.
Myth 6: Only crazy people perpetrate sexual violence.
Fact 6: Only a small minority of perpetrators have profound mental health problems. Research has shown that male perpetrators of sexual violence only differ from non-perpetrators in the following ways
- Men who commit sexual violence are more likely to adhere to the myths of sexual violence
- These men are also more likely to have little understanding of the impacts of sexual violence on victims, and are far less likely to care
- Perpetrators of sexual violence are more likely to hold negative and demeaning attitudes toward women eg. the opinions of women are worth less than those of men or ‘women are only good for one thing’.
Myth 7: Strangers usually commit sexual violence.
Fact 7: Of the young women accessing Zig Zag for sexual assault counselling only a very small minority are assaulted by strangers. The vast majority of young women have been assaulted by acquaintances, friends and family members who spent time gaining their trust up until the assault happened.
Myth 8: Once a young woman has experienced sexual assault she should be able to just ‘get over it’ and quickly move on with her life.
Fact 8: Sexual violence can have a profound impact on young women’s lives. It is often only when a young woman becomes safe from abuse that she will feel safe enough to begin to explore and make sense of her experiences. This takes time and the support and understanding of non-offending friends and family it integral to this process.
Myth 9: If a woman is already involved in touching and kissing a man, she can’t expect him to just stop.
Fact 9: A woman has the right to say ‘no’ at any stage of physical intimacy. If this choice is not respected, then this constitutes sexual violence. Contrary to popular belief, all men can choose to control their behaviour at any stage of the sexual interaction.
Myth 10: Only men from dysfunctional, poor families perpetrate sexual violence.
Fact 10: Sexual abuse is committed by men from all backgrounds and walks of life and in families of every type. Extensive research into the ‘profile’ of men who sexually assault has shown clearly that culture, race, income, education, and professional status has no bearing on whether or not a man will commit sexual violence.
Myth 11: Young women can prevent sexual violence by staying off the streets, at home or in the company of adults.
Fact 11: Research has consistently found that contrary to public opinion, young women are most at risk of sexual violence in their own home or the residence of another person they thought they could trust. Most young women accessing sexual assault support at Zig Zag are abused by a family friend or a family member including fathers, brothers, uncles and grandparents.
If you have experienced sexual abuse and need to talk, please call us on (07) 3843 1823.