Myths & Facts

There are many myths about sexual assault.

All of these myths attempt to excuse the behaviour of the perpetrator and imply they are not responsible for their actions.

Myth: Sexual assaults are committed by strangers.
Fact: The majority of people who commit sexual assaults know their victims and in some cases are relations, friends or work colleagues. Sexual assault can be committed within any type of relationship, including marriage, dating relationships, or by friends, acquaintances, a person you have just met, co-workers or family members.

Myth: Sexual assault is more likely to occur in a public place.
Fact: This is a common misconception especially amongst young adults. Sexual assault can happen anywhere and anytime. Most sexual assaults often occur in private spaces such as homes of the victims or perpetrators.

Myth: Girls and women ask to be sexually assaulted by the way they dress and behave.
Fact: Women and children of all ages, cultures and backgrounds are sexually assaulted. Women may dress in a way to attract or to feel good about themselves but that is different to asking to be sexually assaulted. This is like saying that someone wants to be robbed because they have money in their wallet.

Myth: Rape is a 'spur of the moment' act.
Fact: Most rapists plan carefully in advance, and set up situations so the rape can take place. A rapist is capable of raping again and again.

Myth: Women and children make up stories about being sexually assaulted.
Fact: This is a commonly held belief in the community. But, research suggests only a minority of disclosures of sexual assault are false. Women are more likely to deny or minimise sexual assault experiences than make them up.

Myth: Sexual assault offenders are mentally ill.
Fact: The majority of sexual offenders are not mentally ill. Mental illness does not cause people to sexually offend. Many sex offenders are functioning people in the community, they have jobs, are married, have children. The media often seem to focus on sex offenders who fit the stereotype; they are selective in who they choose to report on. This only helps to maintain the silence on sexual assault. This makes it difficult for people to believe that someone who doesn’t fit that profile could commit sexual offences.

Myth: ‘Alcohol causes rape.’
Fact: Alcohol can reduce inhibitions, but does not remove the responsibility of raping, or justify a victim being raped. ‘Having sex’ with a person too drunk to consent, or asleep or unconscious, is rape.

Myth: Only young women are raped.
Fact: Rape is an act of violence that can happen at any time in a person’s life regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender.

Myth: Men cannot be sexually assaulted.
Fact: Any unwanted sexual contact against any person by any other person is a sexual assault.

Myth: Only young women are raped.
Fact: For older women elder sexual abuse might be their first experience of sexual violence or a continuation of violence into later life.


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