Sexual Abuse Myths Busted

A lot of myths exist about sexual abuse.  Here are a few that we hear on a regular basis.

Rape is Sex.

Rape is experienced by the victims as an act of violence, which can sometimes be life-threatening. Rape is about having power and control over someone; it is an attempt to hurt and humiliate.

She “asked” for it.

  • Clothes do not invite sexual assault.
  • Being out late at night alone does not invite sexual assault.
  • Being drunk or ‘out of it’ on drugs does not invite sexual assault.
  • Flirting with someone does not invite sexual assault.
  • Being in a relationship does not invite sexual assault.
  • Not fighting back does not invite sexual assault.
  • Nothing invites sexual assault.
  • Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone.

It doesn’t happen often.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults are very common. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused in some way before they reach adulthood. Most likely, someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, as rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in this country. Only about 10% ever get reported to the Police.

How can it be true?

It is more common for a survivor of sexual abuse to not speak about it, than speak up. People can feel unable to talk about it for years because of fear, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, cultural pressure or not wanting to get the offender into trouble. It takes a lot of courage for a person to tell someone what has happened to them and they deserve to be taken seriously.

Incest is rare.

Incest is common and happens in every community. If a child or young person is sexually abused it is most often by someone they know, often a family member or close friend.

People who sexually abuse children are homosexual and/or they couldn’t be in an intimate relationship with another adult if they were really sexually offending.

Neither of these ideas is true. While sexual abuse can be committed by both males and females, gay and straight, the most common offenders are heterosexual males. Many of these men are in intimate, ‘normal-seeming’ relationships with other adults and can relate well and be attracted to people of an appropriate age also.

Men can’t be sexually assaulted.

Ideas that men “always want it” mean some people believe that men can’t be sexually assaulted as any sexual advance will be welcomed.  This is not true – men have the same rights as women to be safe from sexual activity that they don’t want.

Women can’t sexually abuse children.

Women and girls can sexually abuse girls and boys, sometimes alongside males but sometimes alone.  The abusive behaviour might seem a bit different to what you expect from males, but it can be just as damaging for its victims.  It can be difficult for people abused by women to speak up because many people don’t believe it can happen – this stops the victim and the abuser getting the help that they need.

If you have questions about anything else you’ve heard, please contact us.