Myths & Realities

If she didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have worn that outfit

No one asks to be violated. Rather than blame the victim, let’s ask the question about why anyone would choose to hurt another person in that way. And let’s expect people to take responsibility for their actions.

Women who say no don’t mean it

Women and men who say no do mean it. But sometimes they don’t say no out loud but show it in their body language – they resist, turn away, go limp, or are unresponsive. They might even laugh because they’re nervous and don’t know what to do. The only sure way to know if someone has given consent is to ask. Check in at every step. Is this OK with you? Consent is sexy.

I’m in a relationship so my boyfriend owes me

Nobody owes you anything. Just because you’ve paid for someone’s dinner or you’ve had sex many times before doesn’t mean that you can force it to happen this time. Consent is dynamic and needs to be given every time, and at every step. Even in relationships you have the right to say no, and have that respected.

Sexual violence only happens in heterosexual relationships

Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people are just as likely to suffer sexual violence within their relationships as heterosexuals. And to make matters worse, they are often the target of damaging verbal and physical assaults due to their gender and sexual orientation. We all have a responsibility to speak up when we see or hear acts of violence.

Sexist, homophobic or rape comments are just jokes and they don’t hurt anyone

Language can be incredibly harmful. Put yourself in the position of someone at the receiving end. You can help change the culture on campus. Refuse to participate in the conversation, walk away, or call someone on their behaviour. It’s not about you being a buzz kill or a cockblock. It’s about their behaviour. Put the problem where it belongs – on their shoulders and not yours.

I feel like I have to act like a porn star to be cool and desirable

Media, music and pop culture put a tremendous pressure on both women and men to behave in hyper-sexualized roles and ways. And they give false messages that everyone wants sex all the time, or that you need to dress in a certain way to fit in and be valued. But these roles are constructs and they deny everyone the chance to be themselves. They also reduce the ability to be true to yourself and can pressure you into believing that you need to do things that you’re uncomfortable with. It can also make you believe that you shouldn’t say no even if you want to.

Sexual assaults are perpetrated most often by strangers

About 70% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. It might be a friend, partner or someone you work with. And the lines are often blurry and confusing, especially in a dating relationship.

Sexual assault is a crime of passion. It happens when someone loses control.

Sexual assault is not about lust, uncontrollable desire, or having had a few too many. It is an act of power and control. Each of us has the ability to control ourselves, and to make choices that respect our own integrity and that of others.

Women often make false accusations about having been sexually assaulted in order to get revenge, because they are pregnant, or to protect their reputations.

Police statistics suggest that only about 5% of reports are false, in line with all other crimes. Given that only about 6% of sexual assaults are even reported to police, the vast majority of survivors of sexual violence struggle alone in silence.

Only women experience sexual violence

While the majority of sexual violence is perpetrated by men against women, men can also be victims. 1 in 7 boys under the age of 18 will be sexually assaulted. While violence can happen at the hands of women, most often, for male survivors, it is by other men. Sexual violence is an act of power and control and is traumatic for anyone who experiences it. But men are much less likely to come forward to talk about their experiences due to their socialization and the expectation that men need to be hyper-sexualized, in control, and unemotional. This creates little space for men to be vulnerable and ask for support.