Everyone has ideas about what rape is – who does it to whom and why. Women who have been raped will be affected by whatever preconceptions they themselves have held about rape, as well as by the attitudes held by others they come into contact with.
If you have always thought of rape in terms of strangers in the street, and a friend or partner rapes you in your own home, it may be hard initially to even recognise what happened as rape.
Women often blame themselves for causing the violence. Myths about rape reinforce this negative self-blaming, often by placing emphasis on what the women was doing and how she was behaving, or by finding an excuse for his actions.
The victim-survivor of rape and sexual violence are never responsible for the violent acts that have been perpetrated against them. The perpetrator is solely responsible for the violence. There are no excuses or exceptions.
One of the major myths about rape and sexual violence is that it is about sex. Rapists are motivated by power and control, they use a forced sexual act to achieve this. Rape is just a way of gaining power – not a way of gaining sexual relief.
Only 9% of rapes are committed by ‘strangers’. Women are most likely to be raped by someone they know, over 80% of rapes are committed by known men. More than one in five women are raped by their partners or their husbands.
Studies show however, that the allegations of rape that are false are exactly the same as that of any other crime i.e. 6 – 8%.
Women and girls of all ages, classes, culture, ability, sexuality, race and faith are raped. Attractiveness has no significance. Rape is an act of violence not sex.
Rapists use a variety of excuses to attempt to discredit the women they rape and to justify their crime. No matter what a woman is wearing, how she is behaving, where she is, whether she is drinking or taking drugs she is never ‘asking to be raped’. No woman asks or deserves to be rape or sexually assaulted.
Rape is a horrendous and traumatizing crime. Rape is the use of violence, power, domination and aggression, no women enjoys rape. Victims of murder, robbery and other crimes are never portrayed as enjoying the experience.
Men who rape or sexually assault women and girls will often use weapons or threats of violence to intimidate women. The fact that there is no visible evidence of violence does not mean that a woman has not been raped. The fear of further violence and murder often limits resistance.
There is no typical rapist. Studies show that men who commit sexual violence come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age and social group.
Studies have indicated that as few as 5% of men are psychotic at the time of their crimes. Few convicted rapists are referred for psychiatric treatment.
Men use a variety of excuses to justify the act of rape. There is never an excuse.
Studies show that most rapes are premeditated i.e. they are either wholly or partially planned in advance. All rapes committed by more than one assailant are always planned. Men can quite easily control their urges to have sex – they do not need to rape a woman to satisfy them. Rape is an act of violence – not sexual gratification. Men who rape or sexually assault does so to dominate, violate and control.
Men who rape are as likely as any other man to be cohabiting or having a significant relationship with a woman.
The majority of sexual assaults are committed by men against women. But anyone can be sexually assaulted and emotional, physical and sexual abuse does happen in same sex relationships. It is important that anyone who has experienced sexual violence can access support and be believed.
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