Myth: Someone who is willingly drinking or taking drugs shouldn't complain if they are raped or sexually assaulted.
Fact: In law, consent to sex is when someone agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. If a person is unconscious or incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, they are unable to give their consent to sex. Having sex with a person who is incapacitated through alcohol or drugs is rape. No-one asks or deserves to be raped or sexually assaulted; 100% of the responsibility lies with the perpetrator. Everyone has the right to live their life free from the fear and experiences of sexual violence.

Myth: Sexual Misconduct requires touching.
Fact:  False, sexual misconduct can include unwanted and inappropriate comments, catcalling, sexual jokes and sending explicit/sexually suggestive messages.

Myth: 'It was a compliment/ they were only joking'.
Fact: Even if a person intends their conduct to be flattering/funny, it may still be offensive to others.

Myth: People often lie about being raped because they want attention or revenge – or regret having had sex with someone.
Fact:  Disproportionate media focus on false rape allegations perpetuates the public perception that lying about sexual violence is common when in fact the opposite is true. False allegations of rape are very rare. The vast majority of survivors choose not to report to the police. One significant reason for this is the fear of not being believed. It's really important we challenge this myth so those who've experienced sexual violence can get the support and justice they need and deserve.

Myth:  People who wear revealing clothing are 'asking for it' .
Fact: No one is ever asking to be sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. There is no excuse or mitigation, and it is never the victim/survivor's fault. What someone was wearing or how they behave when an incident occurs is irrelevant.

Myth: Men of certain races and backgrounds are most likely to commit acts of sexual misconduct.
Fact: There is no typical perpetrator. People who commit sexual misconduct acts come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age and social group.

Myth: Men don't get raped and women don't commit sexual offences.
Fact: The majority of sexual assaults and rapes are committed by men against women and children but women do perpetrate sexual violence. Any man or boy can be sexually assaulted, regardless of size, strength or appearance. Often people who've been sexually assaulted or abused by a woman are particularly fearful that they will not be believed or that their experiences won't be considered 'as bad' as being raped by a man. This can make it especially difficult for these survivors to access services or justice.

Myth: People who were sexually abused as children are likely to become abusers themselves.
Fact: This is a dangerous myth, which is sometimes used to try and explain or excuse the behaviour of those who rape and sexually abuse children. It is offensive and unhelpful to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The vast majority of those who are sexually abused as children will never perpetrate sexual violence against others. There is no excuse or explanation for sexual violence against children or adults.

Myth: If two people have engaged in sexual activity with each other before, it's always OK to have sex again
Fact: If a person is in a relationship with someone or has had sex with them before, this does not mean that they cannot be sexually assaulted or raped by that person. Consent must be given and received every time two people engage in sexual contact. It is important to check in with our sexual partners and make sure that anything sexual that happens between us is what we both want, every time.

Myth: Once a man is sexually aroused, he cannot help himself'; he has to have sex.
Fact: Men can control their urges to have sex just as women can; no-one needs to rape someone for sexual satisfaction. Rape is an act of violence and control, not sexual gratification. It cannot be explained away and there are no excuses.

Myth: Women are most likely to be raped after dark by a stranger, so women shouldn't go alone at night
Fact: Only around 10% of rapes are committed by 'strangers'. Around 90% of rapes are committed by known men, and often by someone who the survivor has previously trusted or even loved. People are raped in their homes, their workplaces and other settings where they have previously felt safe. Perpetrators can be friends, colleagues, clients, neighbours, family members, partners or exes. Risk of rape shouldn't be used as an excuse to control women's movements and restrict their rights and freedom.

Myth: Victims should not complain of sexual misconduct when they 'throw themselves' at their professors/people in power.
Fact: A university is a hierarchical place of steep power-structures. Those holding positions of influence and prestige, like lecturers and professors, senior staff, laboratory leaders, club and society committee members, etc. hold undue influence over students and junior members of staff. It is the person with powers’ responsibility to set clear boundaries and not abuse or groom impressionable students or junior members of staff. Sexual misconduct is always about power and control rather than sexual attraction.

Myth: LGBT+ people experience less sexual violence than the general population.
LGBT+ people experience similar or higher levels of sexual violence.

Myth: Physiological arousal/erection/getting wet means you consented to the sexual act.
Fact: A physiological response often results from mere physical contact or extreme stress. This does not imply that you wanted or enjoyed the experience. Many abusers use the trope of physical arousal to groom/manipulate their victims to believe that they somehow liked the entire abuse experience, which further discourages people to reach out. A person can have any of the Five F’s (Freeze, Fight, Flight, Flop, Friend) in response to an act of sexual violence, and physiological responses do not in any way convey anything about consenting to the act.

* Credits to Rape Crisis England and Wales and Survivors UK for some of the information contained in this article. *

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