Mythbusters

Welcome to our myth-busting page! As part of our course on Healing from Sexual Trauma, we explore patriarchal myths about sexual violence, and the victim-blaming narratives that plague our society. So here, we've debunked some of the most common myths about sexual assault, to empower our Bloom community with facts, not fiction.

MYTH:
Rape and sexual violence happen out of sexual desire.
FACT:
The idea of sexual assault is often sexualized by the media and society in general. However, sexual assault and rape are about having power and control: not sexual desire. While most people have sexual desires, not everyone commits sexual assault. Most rapists have available consensual sexual relationships, and often plan out their crimes in advance.
MYTH:
In the media, we often hear that people “lie” about being raped because they want attention or are seeking revenge.
FACT:
The majority of people who report sexual assault will always be telling the truth. For example, in the UK, only 2-4% of reported rapes are found to be untrue.

The truth about reporting rape and sexual assault that we do know is that it is enormously under-reported. For example, in Nicaragua, it was found that just 8% of women reported sexual abuse in a face-to-face survey, the number jumped to 26% when questioned anonymously. So it is an incredibly irresponsible myth to perpetuate that misreporting is common, when throughout the world there are steep challenges and social consequences for those who report sexual abuse.

Also, it is very common for survivors to have difficulty remembering details of the assault - this in no way indicates that they are lying. Our brains face challenges recollecting traumatic events, and it is entirely normal for memories of such trauma to contain just a few details. This can be due to the survivor dissociating to cope with the memory, or the influence of substances like alcohol or drugs. 

So, you do not have to prove you were violated by listing every detail, or be severely injured, to know what happened to you is true. It takes incredible courage for survivors to come forward and seek justice, exposing themselves to potential judgment, disbelief and other consequences. 
MYTH:
Blame the alcohol.
FACT:
Alcohol and drugs are often used as a tool by perpetrators to make victims vulnerable and unable to give proper consent while shifting the blame from their actions.

Consent must be fully and freely given in situations of a sexual nature - by someone entirely able to do so. If you are unconscious or confused by drugs or alcohol, you are not able to give legal consent. The person to blame is the one committing the crime, whatever the conditions.

The perpetrator being drunk is also not a reason to touch you, and they are still guilty.
MYTH:
If the victim doesn’t struggle or fight, or push back, it isn’t assault or rape.
FACT:
Rapists aren’t looking for a fight and they don’t need to fight to know what they’re doing is wrong. Many use forms of manipulation or implied threats to get what they want: this tactic is called coercion. When you are afraid, there can never be consent. Some studies have also shown that women who fight back are more likely to be injured by their attacker. Staying safe by being quiet does not suddenly make what happened to the survivor okay. Anyone who treats you or has treated you this way is a coward who avoids responsibility, and uses calculated tactics and tools to maintain control and blame the people they hurt.
MYTH:
The victim “asked for it” by being seductive, careless or dressed “inappropriately”.
FACT:
No one asks to be abused, injured, or humiliated.This line of thought blames the survivor rather than the abuser who chose to commit a crime. Individuals of all ages, walks of life and backgrounds can be survivors, and not one of them chose through their own actions for their assault to take place.
MYTH:
When someone says “no” they really mean “yes”.
FACT:
Yes means Yes and No means No. There is no other acceptable understanding of consent. Silence does not equal consent and only a “yes” given without pressure is valid consent for sexual activity. If you are ever unclear about someone’s wishes, always clarify.
MYTH:
Men of certain races and backgrounds are more likely to commit sexual violence.
FACT:
There is no "typical rapist". People of all genders, from every economic, ethnic, racial, age, and social group commit sexual violence.
MYTH:
If two people have had sex with each other before, it’s always OK to have sex again.
FACT:
If a person is in a relationship or previously had sexual contact with the perpetrator, this does not mean they cannot be sexually assaulted or raped by that person.

Consent must be given and received every time two people engage in sexual activity. This is true whether you are in a casual situation, a new relationship, a long-term relationship, and whether or not you are married.
MYTH:
Domestic abuse is a crime of the poor and uneducated.
FACT:
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is a crime that has no regard for the abuser or survivors’ age, ethnicity, educational background, or financial status. The problem is the learned behaviour of the abuser perpetrated by society, not the pedigree.
MYTH:
If the victim doesn't leave, the situation must be tolerable.
FACT:
This is absolutely not true. This myth implies that a survivor is comfortable with abuse when there are many other factors as to why people stay in abusive situations. Examples of reasons can be due to fear, lack of money, concerns about children, lack of transportation, and genuine affection for their abuser, among others.
MYTH:
Rape is a trivial event
FACT:
Myths which trivialize the psychological and long lasting impact of sexual assault through implying that if a women is willing to “make out” with someone, then it’s no big deal if they go further, or that rape isn’t as “bad” as being mugged and beaten, are incredibly harmful and dangerous. 

Rape and sexual assault are violent crimes that cause long lasting trauma, as well as psychological and physical distress. Even if there is no visible physical harm on a victim it remains an incredibly physical and violent act that takes away basic human rights from another human being.
MYTH:
Rape is a deviant event
FACT:
Considering the prevalence of marital rape and rape in long term relationships, it is not true that “rape mainly occurs on the ‘bad’ side of town” or that “men from nice middle-class homes almost never rape.” 

These myths divert the blame from the very common occurrence of rape throughout all economic classes, and the fact that it is more likely for a woman to be raped in a familiar location by a known person to the survivor.
MYTH:
Most perpetrators are strangers to the victim.
FACT:
Only around 10% of rapists are strangers and around 90% of rapes are committed by known people, often by those that the survivor has previously trusted or even loved. Rapists can be acquaintances, intimate partners, friends, and family members along with strangers.

People are raped in their homes, workplaces, or other environments where they previously felt safe. The threat of rape should never be used as an excuse to restrict someone’s rights or movements.
MYTH:
Serial rapists are uncommon.
FACT:
Almost every rapist is a serial attacker. They use tactics of coercion, violence, and threats of force to assault people on a regular basis.
MYTH:
If the survivor orgasmed/ejaculated then it wasn’t rape and they “enjoyed it”.
FACT:
Orgasm does not mean that the person enjoyed a sexual act or that they wanted it. Stimulation can bring someone to orgasm as a natural reaction, even in situations of high distress and/or pain. Orgasm does not mean consent and the argument that it does is often used as a way to silence the survivor.
MYTH:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals deserve to be raped because of their lifestyle.
FACT:
No one deserves to be raped. This is a myth used by perpetrators who commit rape as a hate crime against LGBTQ+ survivors.
MYTH:
Sexual assault is often the result of miscommunication or a mistake.
FACT:
Sexual assault is a crime, never a mistake. Consent is either given happily or it isn’t and without consent from all parties, sexual contact is illegal.
MYTH:
People who are sexually abused as children are likely to become abusers themselves.
FACT:
This is a dangerous myth that is offensive and unhelpful to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This myth is often used to explain or excuse the behaviour of abusers, and while it could be a contributing factor in an abuser’s background, the vast majority of those who were sexually abused as children will never perpetrate sexual violence against others.There is no excuse for sexual violence against children or adults.
MYTH:
Men don’t get raped and women cannot commit sexual violence.
FACT:
The majority of sexual assaults and rapes are committed by men against women and children, but women do perpetrate sexual violence and sexual violence also occurs within non-heteronormative relationships.

Often people who have been sexually assaulted by a female feel as though they will not be believed or that their experiences will not be considered “as bad”. This can make it especially difficult for these survivors to access services or justice.