Myth and reality
True or false?
Various myths attempt to justify the behaviour of sexual assailants and blame their victims.
Roll your mouse over the question box to find out the correct answer.
Sexual assault victims always hate their assailants.
More than 8 out of 10 victims know their assailant*, who is often a spouse, friend, relative or other person close to them. Victims therefore often have very conflicting feelings towards their assailant.
Assaults are frequently reported, often without reason.
Only 1 assault out of every 20 is reported to the police*.
Individuals provoke sexual assault through their behaviour and clothing.
Being out late at night, consuming alcohol or drugs, dressing seductively or initiating a relationship with someone—none of these behaviours should be considered provocation for sexual assault.
False allegations of sexual assault are common.
False allegations of sexual assault account for no more than between 2% and 4% of complaints, which is the same proportion as for crimes of all types***.
Individuals cannot be sexually assaulted by someone of the
Anyone can be the victim of sexual assault. The LGBTQ+ community also struggles with this problem.
If the victim didn’t fight back and is uninjured, it was not a case of sexual assault.
In cases of abuse of authority, threats or manipulation, the victim may not actively resist the assault. They may also experience a freeze response as a survival instinct.
Individuals who become sexually aroused during a sexual assault must have consented to the act because they clearly experienced pleasure.
It is possible to have an involuntary physical reaction to sexual stimulation, even in the context of sexual assault. Regardless of what the victim felt, however, it does not mean they consented to sexual activity at the time of the assault.
Men who sexually assault boys are all homosexuals.
Most men who sexually assault boys are heterosexual*. Sexual assault is primarily an abuse of power over another person.
Sexual assailants are strangers.
In 82% of cases reported to the police, the assailant is known to the victim*. Many perpetrators take advantage of a position of trust and authority to sexually assault their victim.
Only young people are likely to be sexually assaulted.
Individuals of all ages are at risk of being sexually assaulted. Over 17% of victims are 35 years of age or older*.
A boy who is sexually assaulted by a man will become a homosexual.
Sexual assault is not a determining factor in a victim’s sexual orientation.
If the victim was intoxicated when they were sexually assaulted, they are partially responsible.
Victims are never responsible for their assault. It is true that alcohol consumption increases the risk of sexual assault, but only because the assailant is inclined to take more risks and victims are less able to defend themselves.
For more information
* To find out more about the myths and prejudices surrounding sexual assault, see the Information Guide for Sexual Assault Victims.