This chart is based on the Ontario Women’s Directorate resource, “Developing a Response to Sexual Violence: A Resource Guide for Ontario’s Colleges and Universities”
Myth: It wasn’t rape, so it wasn’t sexual violence.
Fact: Sexual assault and sexual violence encompasses a broad range of unwanted sexual activity. Any unwanted sexual contact is considered to be sexual violence. A survivor can be severely affected by all forms of sexual violence, including unwanted fondling, rubbing, kissing, or other sexual acts. Many forms of sexual violence involve no physical contact, such as stalking or distributing intimate visual recordings. All of these acts are serious and can be damaging.
Myth: Sexual violence can’t happen to me or anyone I know.
Fact: Sexual violence can and does happen to anyone. People of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are victims of sexual violence, but the vast majority of sexual assaults happen to women and girls. Young women, Aboriginal women and women with disabilities are at greater risk of experiencing sexual violence.
Myth: Sexual violence is most often committed by strangers.
Fact: Someone known to the victim, including acquaintances, dating partners, and common-law or married partners, commit approximately 75 per cent of sexual assaults.
Myth: Sexual violence is most likely to happen outside in dark, dangerous places.
Fact: The majority of sexual violence acts happen in private spaces like a residence or private home.
Myth: If an individual doesn’t report to the police, it wasn’t sexual violence.
Fact: Just because a victim doesn’t report the violence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Fewer than one in ten victims report the crime to the police.
Myth: It’s not a big deal to have sex with someone while they are drunk, stoned or passed out.
Fact: If a person is unconscious or incapable of consenting due to the use of alcohol or drugs, they cannot legally give consent. Without consent, it is sexual assault.
Myth: If the person chose to drink or use drugs, then it isn’t considered sexual violence.
Fact: This is a prominent misconception about sexual violence. No one can consent while drunk or incapacitated.
Myth: If the victim didn’t scream or fight back, it probably wasn’t sexual violence.
Fact: When an individual is sexually assaulted they may become paralyzed with fear and be unable to fight back. The person may be fearful that if they struggle, the perpetrator will become more violent.
Myth: If you didn’t say no, it must be your fault.
Fact: People who commit sexual violence/abuse are trying to gain power and control over their victim. They want to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for their victim to say no. A person does not need to actually say the word “no” to make it clear that they did not want to participate. The focus in consent is on hearing a “yes”.
Myth: If a person isn’t crying or visibly upset, it probably wasn’t a serious sexual assault.
Fact: Everyone responds to the trauma of sexual violence differently. Survivors may cry or she may be calm. They may be silent or very angry. Behaviour is not an indicator of her experience. It is important not to judge a woman by how she responds to the violence.
Myth: If it really happened, the victim would be able to easily recount all the facts in the proper order.
Fact: Shock, fear, embarrassment and distress can all impair memory. Many survivors attempt to minimize or forget the details of the violence as a way of coping with trauma. Memory loss is common when alcohol and/or drugs are involved.
Myth: Individuals lie and make up stories about being sexually assaulted; and most reports of sexual violence turn out to be false.
Fact: According to Statistics Canada, fewer than one in 10 sexual assault victims report the crime to the police. Approximately 2% of sexual assault reports are false.
The number of false reports for sexual violence is very low. Sexual violence carries such a stigma that many people prefer not to report.
Myth: Persons with disabilities don’t get sexually assaulted.
Fact: Individuals with disabilities are at a high risk of experiencing sexual violence or assault. Those who live with activity limitations are over two times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than those who are able-bodied.
Myth: People who are sexually assaulted “ask for it” by their provocative behaviour or dress.
Fact: This statement couldn’t be more hurtful or wrong. Nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted. Someone has deliberately chosen to be violent toward someone else; to not get consent. Nobody asks to be assaulted. Ever. No mode of dress, no amount of alcohol or drugs ingested, no matter what the relationship is between the survivor and the perpetrator or what the survivor’s occupation is, sexual violence is always wrong.
Myth: Sexual violence only happens to women
Fact: Not true. The majority of sexual violence acts are committed against women by men, but people of all genders, from all backgrounds have been/can be assaulted.