Busting Myths

Myths perpetuate false information and powerfully influence how we think about issues. There are many myths surrounding sexualized violence that perpetuate the incorrect ideas that sexualized violence is not a problem and/or that stigmatize the survivor. Here are some myths that need to be busted with reality:

Myth: Sexual assault does not occur often.

Reality: More than half of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. 1 out of 5 boys and 1 out of 3 girls will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18.

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

Reality: The rate of false reporting for sexual assault is no different than any other crime. Less than 10% of sexual assaults are actually reported. In reality, sexual assault by someone known to the survivor is the most under reported crime in Canada.

Myth: Sexual assault is committed often by strangers.

Reality: 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the survivor.

Myth: The best way for a woman to protect herself from sexual assault is to avoid being alone at night in dark, deserted places.

Reality: Most sexual assaults occur in a private home.

Myth: Women who are sexually assaulted “ask for it” by the way they look or dress, how much they drank.

Reality: The number one characteristic perpetrators look for in a victim is vulnerability, not appearance.  This myth is also part of victim blaming - by placing responsibility on the victim.

Myth: Rape is a sexual act taken too far.

Reality: Rape is an act of violence first and foremost that involves asserting power and control over another person and taking power from her/him.

Myth: People cannot be sexually assaulted by their spouses or partners.

Reality: Legally, all people have the right to refuse any act of a sexual nature with anyone. Sexual assault within a relationship has been illegal in Canada since 1983.

Myth: If someone consents to sex, then changes their mind and their partner keeps going, they have not been sexually assaulted.

Reality: Legally, all people have the right to change their minds at anytime during sexual contact. Consent must be given EVERYTIME people engage in sexual contact.  Think ENTHUSIASTIC CONSENT!!!

Myth: If a woman/man is drunk or passed out from drinking, it is okay to have sex with her/him.

Reality: Legally, no one can consent to sex while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

Myth: If the perpetrator is drunk at the time of the sexual assault, he/she cannot be accused of sexual assault.

Reality: The perpetrator is responsible for his/her actions no matter how intoxicated he/she is. As he/she would not have been able to receive consent from the victim because of his/her own drunkenness, he/she would not be able to use “being drunk” as a legal defense.  Someone who drinks and drives is still responsible for any harm they cause.

Myth: Men cannot be sexually assaulted.

Reality: Anyone can be sexually assaulted. Furthermore, a physical response to sexual contact is not consent.

Myth: Sex workers cannot be sexually assaulted.

Reality: Sex workers can be sexually assaulted and have as much right as anyone else to medical care and legal options. Sexual assault is a crime of violence, not just an act of a sexual nature. For more information on sex workers and their rights please visit SWAG Kingston

Myth: People who sexually assault others are either mentally ill or sexually starved.

Reality: People who function and participate normally in society can commit sexual assault to assert power and control. 

Myth: It is only sexual assault if weapons or physical violence is used.

Reality: Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual act. It can include anything from unwanted sexual touching to rape and sexual exploitation. Moreover, 80% of survivors show no visible injuries.

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