Dispelling the myths

Nobody ever invites rape, whatever the myths around rape are. Whatever relationship a person is in, whatever their gender is, whatever decision they have made around drink or dress and whatever level of intimacy they have already engaged in with their attackers, the responsibility of rape needs to be assigned where it belongs, with the rapist.

The way people dress does not mean they are asking for sex

Just because a woman dresses in revelling clothes and liberally applies her make-up, it does not mean she is asking for it.

Women are often judged on the basis of the way they present themselves, as though the presence of a bra or a subtler shade of lipstick might have made all the difference between an uneventful occasion, and one on which a sexual assault took place.

The assumption that such choices can lead to rape, that clothes can speak for women who say no, are not true.

Don’t try to second guess the significance of a woman’s dress or demeanour. Women are entitled to make whatever choices they please when choosing what to wear.

Engagement in intimacy does not mean they are asking for sex

If someone has been out on a date with you, smiled at, flirted with, danced, laughed, accepted a drink, shared a taxi, kissed and engaged in some level of intimacy with you it does not mean they consent to having sex with you.

The myth is often put forward that the victim was na´ve, they should have known better or ’knew what to expect’ and ’had it coming’.

The fact remains, that a kiss is not a contract, and that anybody has the right to say no at any time, irrespective of what has gone on before, up to and even during sexual intercourse itself.

Drinking alcohol does not mean they are asking for sex

Alcohol is often involved in cases of rape and sexual assault, and is one of the most commonly cited factors in attempts to explain or excuse it.

Alcohol is seen both as something that greatly increases the vulnerability of victims not only to rape, but also to accusations of blame for that rape. Although it is offenders who perpetrate rape, it is victims who are urged to modify their behaviour by abstaining or drinking less, and thus accommodate the danger posed by perpetrators.

The fact is drinking is not a crime, rape is.

Being in a relationship does not mean they are asking for sex

It is still a widely held myth that people cannot be raped by their spouses or partners.

Many people believe that sexual intercourse without consent, in this context, doesn’t really constitute rape, or if they do, that it is somehow not as serious as an assault carried out by a stranger.

People do not give up their right to say no by committing to a relationship and should not be expected to comply with their partners sexual demands.

Do not trivialise sex without consent between spouses or partners simply because they have previously had consensual sex. Sex without consent is always rape, and rape is always serious.

A typical rapist is not a stranger who lurks outside in the dead of night. Studies show that the threat is far more likely to come from someone known to the victim, who is often a spouse or partner?

Men can be victims of sexual assault and rape too

It is a misconception that men cannot be raped or sexually assaulted. Men can be raped by other man or sexually assaulted by women and men. While the attacker is more often male, men can be and are sexually assaulted by women.

Part of the myth is that men get aroused when they want to, so therefore cannot be sexually assaulted by a woman. Physiological responses are involuntary, meaning men have no control over them.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter your age, your sexual orientation or your gender identity.

Men can find this kind of attack difficult to deal with because this is widely, but wrongly, thought of as a crime that only affects women.

Search Cambridgeshire Constabulary