Myths about sexual violence

There are lots of myths and misinformation about violence and abuse. It is important for us all to challenge excuses for abusive behaviour whenever we hear them. We all need to get the truth out there and work together to bring an end to abuse.




Myth: Some women are just asking for it. If you dress a certain way you are putting yourself at risk.

Women have the right to wear whatever they like – they cannot be blamed for suffering a sexual assault, regardless of their appearance. Rape or sexual assault is never a woman’s fault. Assaulting a woman is a choice an abuser makes – it is against the law.


Myth: Women who get themselves too drunk are asking for it.

Deciding to drink too much does not mean that a woman has also decided to have sex. Men who go out to get drunk do not face similar judgments about their behaviour and rarely do women take advantage of them sexually. Remember: having sex with someone who is too intoxicated to give full consent is rape.


Myth: A rapist is someone who jumps out from a dark alley.

The majority of sexual assaults are carried out by someone a woman or girl knows and trusts, often in her own home. In approximately 90% of reported rapes, the victim knows their perpetrator prior to the incident.


Myth: Men don’t get raped.

Although the majority of sexual violence is experienced by women, men are also raped and sexually assaulted. The impact of sexual violence on men is just as traumatic as it is for women. Refuge believes that all survivors of sexual violence deserve to be listened to, believed and have access to specialist support.


Myth: It can’t be rape if the person has already had consensual sex with the rapist.

Consent must be gained each and every time someone engages in a sexual activity.


Myth: Girls might say no, but they really mean yes.

If someone says no, or indicates through their actions that they don’t want to have sex, then they haven’t consented.


Myth: Women lie about being raped all the time.

False rape allegations are very rare – less than 3% of reports are false. But almost 500,000 women are raped or sexually assaulted each year in England and Wales.


Myth: Sometimes a man just gets carried away and can’t stop.

Everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. Respecting someone means never forcing them to engage in a sexual act against their wishes.