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Myth busting

Things people say about rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse

“If you wear revealing clothes, it’s your own fault.”

No-one deserves or asks to be raped or assaulted no matter what they wear. This is like saying that someone is asking to be mugged because they are carrying a bag. It is just a way of excusing the behaviour of those who do this.

“I had too much to drink!”

If you are drunk, you are not able to give consent to sex freely, and the person who takes advantage of that vulnerability is guilty of rape or sexual assault.

“Everyone knows I fancied them – Who will believe they raped me?”

Being attracted to someone - and them knowing this - does not give them the right to rape, sexually abuse or assault you. If you did not give your consent then it is an offence.

“If someone takes you out, pays for things or buys you gifts they are entitled to something in return.”

Sex should involve an equal decision between two people. You have the right to say ‘no’ to sexual activity at any point, whether or not you have been taken out, bought gifts or they have paid for everything. If someone forces sex on you, suggesting that you owe them, it is rape.

“Rape isn’t serious – just sex when you don’t want it.”

Rape is not the same as sex. For the survivor, it is a violent act over which they have no control and during which survivors fear for their lives.

“Most people who say they’ve been raped aren’t telling the truth. They’re just attention-seeking.”

Telling someone that they have been raped or abused is far from easy and people very rarely lie about it. Sometimes a person who has told someone that they have been raped or abused may take it back because they are afraid of what might happen as a result of telling.

“But if it was your boyfriend/girlfriend, it doesn’t count as rape – especially if you’ve had sex with them before.”

If you didn’t want it, it’s rape - even if you have consented to sex before. You have the right to say 'no' at any time, even while you are having sex.

“Only strangers are rapists. Never people you know.”

The most common rapist is the survivor’s partner. 97% of callers to the England and Wales rape crisis lines knew the perpetrator before they were raped. As many as one in three teenage girls have suffered sexual abuse from a boyfriend.

“Only gay men and boys are sexually violated.”

Heterosexual, gay and bisexual males are equally likely to be sexually violated. Being sexually violated has nothing to do with your current or future sexual orientation.