Common myths about sexual abuse

One of the most distressing things about being a victim/survivor of rape and sexual abuse can be dealing with others' attitudes.

So many myths surround these issues and many people, including workers from other agencies, your friends and family, may believe them to be true and therefore not understand what you are going through. 

 

Myth: Women and children lie about being raped or sexually assaulted for their own benefit to get revenge, attention or because they feel guilty afterwards about having sex.

Fact: Women and children rarely make false reports about sexual violence.  In fact, false accusations happen no more often than false reports of any other crime.

Myth: Women and children who are raped or sexually assaulted "ask for it" by the way they dress or act.

Fact: Reports show a wide diversity in the way women who are assaulted act and dress.  Women and girls of all ages and physical types, in almost any situation can be sexually assaulted.  No matter how women act or what they wear, they are not to blame for their assault.  This myth takes responsibility of the rape/abuse away from the rapist and shifts it to the victim.

Myth: Rape and sexual abuse is usually committed by strangers.

Fact: Rape and sexual abuse is rarely committed by 'perverts', 'maniacs' or 'a stranger in a dark alley'.  Most sexual violence/abuse is committed by men who are known to the victim and may be trusted by her because they are a relation, a colleague, a professional, a friend, a boyfriend or husband.  Childhood sexual abuse is nearly always committed by a known and trusted adult. 

 

Myth: Men who rape or sexually abuse women and children are mentally ill or sexually starved.

Fact: Studies show that most sexual violence is committed by ordinary or normal men coming from every economic, racial, cultural, age and social group.  Rape/sexual assaults are not sexual acts but acts of violence that involve asserting power and control over another person.  Rapists are not men who cannot control their sexual desires; rape is a premeditated crime.

 

These and other myths may leave you feeling upset, uncomfortable and blaming yourself for what has happened to you.  You are not to blame.  

 

If you have been raped or sexually abused or are supporting someone else who has, you can contact The Women's Centre Cornwall for help and information using our Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Helpline and speak to someone in confidence. It doesn't matter whether this happened recently or a long time ago.  You will be listened to and believed.

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