- It is estimated 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales each year.*
- over 40,000 women are sexually assaulted each year*
- 1 in 5 women aged 16-59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since aged 16*
The above figures are shocking enough, however in reality rape and sexual assault happen far more often than statistics suggest. Rape is often not reported, partly as women wrongly blame themselves.
Most women are taught to fear rape from an early age – girls are told to be afraid of ‘strange men’; adolescents warned not to go out ‘dressed like that’; and women urged not to walk home alone at night.
Society’s unwritten rules lead us to believe that if we break them then we are partly to blame for any harm which may happen to us. As long as these myths are perpetuated it puts the blame on the woman rather than the abuser, and thus helps maintain women’s silence and an under reporting of the crime.
Rape is an act of violence and power, not sex, and the blame lies solely with the abuser. Men who rape or sexually assault do so to dominate, violate and control.
MYTH: Do not walk home alone or along dark alleyways.
REALITY: Only 9% of rapes are committed by ‘strangers’. Women are raped in their homes and workplaces where they are less likely to report it. One in five women is raped by a husband or partner
MYTH: Women ‘ask for it’ by the way they are dressed.
REALITY: Research has shown that ‘attractiveness’ has little significance. There is a great diversity in the way targeted women act or dress. Rapists choose their victims on their vulnerability, not on the way they look.
MYTH: The woman was drunk
REALITY: If a person’s judgement is impaired by drugs or alcohol, legally they are unable to give consent. Having non-consensual sex with a person who is intoxicated is sexual assault.
MYTH: She enjoyed it/did not fight back
REALITY: Women do not enjoy sexual violence. Studies consistently show that rape involves physical force and violence. Often when a woman is raped she is afraid she will be killed – rapists often use threats to kill to ensure their victim stays silent.
*Source: Ministry of Justice