Myths about rape and sexual abuse

/Myths about rape and sexual abuse
Myths about rape and sexual abuse2019-01-22T11:56:28+00:00

There are a lot of myths out there about rape and sexual abuse – who experiences it, who does it, and why it happens.

If you have experienced rape or sexual abuse you may be impacted by these myths:

  • blaming yourself for what happened
  • confusion about what has happened
  • misinformed reactions from friends, family, and professionals when you say what has happened.

It’s important to remember that the victim-survivors are never responsible for what has happened to them. The blame lies with the person/people who have done this – not you.

Here at SARSAS we are committed to dispelling myths and raising awareness and understanding of the realities of rape and sexual abuse. Below are some common myths that we have broken down and busted.


Only around 10% of rapes are committed by ‘strangers’. Around 90% of rapes are committed by known men, and often by someone who the survivor has previously trusted or even loved.

People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they previously felt safe. Rapists can be friends, colleagues, clients, neighbours, family members, partners or exes.

Risk of rape shouldn’t be used as an excuse to control women’s movements or restrict their rights and freedom.


Studies show  that the allegations of rape that are false are exactly the same as that of any other crime around 4 – 8%.

Media focus on false rape allegations can give the impression it’s common for people to lie about sexual violence. This is not true. False allegations of rape are very rare.

Most victims and survivors never report to the police. One reason for this is the fear of not being believed. It’s really important we challenge this myth so those who’ve been through sexual violence can get the support and justice they need and deserve.


People of all ages and appearances, and of all classes, cultures, abilities, genders, sexualities, races and religions, experience rape and sexual abuse.

It is an act of violence and control; the  ‘attractiveness’ of a victim/survivor has very little to do with it.

There is no excuse for sexual violence and it is never the victim/survivor’s fault. What someone was wearing when they were raped is completely irrelevant.


This is a dangerous myth, which is sometimes used to try and explain or excuse the behaviour of those who rape and sexually abuse children.

It is offensive and unhelpful to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The vast majority of those who are sexually abused as children will never perpetrate sexual violence against others. There is no excuse or explanation for sexual violence against children or adults.


Rape is a horrendous and traumatizing crime. Rape is the use of violence, power, domination and aggression.

Victims of murder, robbery and other crimes are never portrayed as enjoying the experience.


Sometimes people who are raped sustain injuries and sometimes they don’t.

Many people who are sexually attacked are unable to move or speak from fear and shock. They may be in a coercive or controlling relationship with their rapist, and/or too young to give consent (under 16), or unable to consent because of drugs, alcohol, or not being consvious. Sex without consent is rape.

Just because someone doesn’t have visible injuries doesn’t mean they weren’t raped.


There is no typical rapist. Studies show that men who commit sexual violence come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age and social group.


There is no evidence to support the idea that LGBTQ people are more likely to be sex offenders. In fact, sex offenders are disproportionately likely to be heterosexual men.


There is never an excuse for rape and sexual abuse. We are responsible for what we do to others even if we are intoxicated or stressed.


Men can control their urges to have sex just as women can; no-one needs to rape someone for sexual satisfaction. Rape is an act of violence and control. It can’t be explained away and there are no excuses.


If a person is in a relationship with someone or has had sex with them before, it doesn’t mean they can’t be sexually assaulted or raped by that person.

Consent must be given and received every time two people engage in sexual contact. It is important to check in with our sexual partners and make sure anything sexual that happens between us is what we both want, every time.


The majority of sexual assaults and rapes are committed by men against women and children but women do perpetrate sexual violence.

Often people who’ve been sexually assaulted or abused by a woman worry they won’t be believed or their experiences won’t be considered ‘as bad’. This can make it difficult for these survivors to access services or justice.

Men are also raped and sexually assaulted.  The impacts of sexual violence on men and boys are no less devastating.

Want to talk?

Women and girls

0808 801 0456

Monday & Friday
11.00am – 2.00pm
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 6.00pm – 8:30pm

Men and boys

0808 801 0464

Monday 11.00am – 2.00pm
Tuesday 6.00pm – 8:30pm

Recent Posts
Leave this site now