A “Myth” a commonly held belief, idea or explanation that is not true. Myths arise from people’s need to make sense of acts that are senseless, violent or disturbing. They attempt to explain events, like rape and abuse, in ways that fit with our preconceived ideas about the world – they arise from and reinforce our prejudices and stereotypes.
It is an unfortunate fact that myths about rape and sexual violence are brought into the jury room, and form an obstacle to obtaining convictions. It is therefore imperative that we recognise these myths and challenge them at every opportunity.
- implies that home is safe;
- implies that rape can be prevented by avoiding certain places and therefore blames the victim;
- assumes a particular victim profile and therefore stigmatises him or her; and
- entrenches racial and class prejudices.
- the majority of rapes are committed by persons known to the victim;
- date or acquaintance rape is very common; and
- victims are often raped in their homes.
- attempts to excuse rape and “blame the victim”;
- assumes that a woman who draws attention is looking for sex or “deserves what she gets” ; and
- re-victimises and stigmatises the victim.
- dressing attractively and flirting is an invitation for attention and/or admiration, not for rape; and
- only the rapist is responsible for the rape!