Myth: Sexual assault is rare.
Fact: Unfortunately, sexual assault happens often in our society. In Canada 39% of all women have experienced at least one incident of sexual assault since the age of 16 (Juristat Service Bulletin, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1994). Sexual abuse of boys often goes unreported (http://www.child-abuse-effects.com/male-victims-of-sexual-abuse.html).
Myth: a) Only young, beautiful, sexy women are sexually assaulted.
b) “Nice girls” don’t get sexually assaulted.
Fact: All people are vulnerable to sexual assault. Anybody of any gender, age, race, class, religion, sexual identity, occupation, disability, or physical appearance can be sexually assaulted.
Myth: Women who are sexually assaulted “ask for it” in some way – by dressing provocatively, by being out alone late at night, or by using poor judgment.
Fact: Most women are assaulted in their homes (80% of the time), and in broad daylight (49% of the time) (Juristat Service Bulletin, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1994). Regardless of the situation, no one asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted. The offender is always 100% responsible for the assault.
Myth: People lie about being sexually assaulted.
Fact: The rate of false reporting of incidents of sexual assault is 2%, the same as for other crimes. Sexual assault actually has a very low reporting rate. Only 6% of sexual assaults are reported to the police and only 1% o f date rapes are reported (Ontario Women’s Directorate, 1995). Many women do not report their assaults to the police for fear of not being believed.
Myth: People with disabilities are less likely to be sexually assaulted.
Fact: People with disabilities are more vulnerable in our society. People with disabilities have a much higher risk of being sexually abused – at least 1.5 times higher than the risk for people without disabilities (Canadian Council on Social Development, 1988).
Myth: Only women can be sexually assaulted.
Fact: Although people think of sexual assault as a “women’s” issue, males are also vulnerable to sexual abuse. For most males who experience sexual abuse it happens when they are children or teenagers. One in 9 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18 (Badgely, 1984). However, men are also assaulted as adults, by women or other men.
Myth: A person commits sexual assault because they need to have sex.
Fact: Sexual assault is a violent assault. It is about power and control, not sex. It violates not only a survivor’s personal integrity, but also his or her sense of safety and control over his or her life. Many offenders have otherwise normal, active sex lives. Men who rape are not likely to have any greater desire for sex than men who do not rape (Johnson, 1984).
Myth: When sexual assault occurs, it is usually by a stranger.
In most cases of sexual assault, the offender is known to the victim – either an employer, co-worker, friend, boyfriend/spouse, neighbour, or relative. For example, strangers were the assailants in only 13% of sexual assaults reported to police in 1992 (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1992); the highest proportion of these assaults (35%) were committed by a casual acquaintance of the survivor.
Myth: Sexual assault offenders are easily recognized.
Fact: Fact: Most sexual assault offenders appear to be normal. Most are married and young. They can be of any race, colour, or economic class. In fact, 50% of offenders, at the time of the assault, are married or living common-law, have children, and are considered responsible members of the community (Juristat Service Bulletin, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1994).
Myth: You are sexually assaulted only if you are beaten and bleeding and the assailant held a knife to your throat.
Fact: According to the Criminal Code of Canada, sexual assault is any sexual activity without consent, regardless of whether there are physical injuries or a weapon used. According to one study, 89% of women who were sexually assaulted experienced little or no physical injury (Statistics Canada, 1993).
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault
Sex can be a healthy and wonderful part of a person’s life but it can also be a painful and hurtful experience if it is unwanted or forced. Forcing or coercing someone else to engage in any sexual activity is not acceptable ever. It is an abuse of power and against the law Click here to go to What is Sexual Assault/Abuse.
It is important to know that sexual assault is never your fault and that help is available. In keeping silent, people who have experienced abuse or assault can feel very alone, but sexual assault and abuse are more common than many people realize.
It is estimated that less than 10% of sexual assaults are ever reported to the police.2
In 1993, Statistics Canada completed its most comprehensive survey on violence (“Violence Against Women Survey)” and found that 51% of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence since the age of 16.1
Men can be victims of sexual assault too:
- In 2003, Males made up 29% of child victims, 12% of youth, and 8% of adult victims of sexual assault reported to 154 police agencies across Canada.
- 53% of the offenders of police-reported adult male sexual assault victims are acquaintances.3
Why don’t people report sexual assault?
There are many reasons. Some people feel afraid that if they tell, the abuser will hurt them again. After all, most assaults are not committed by strangers but by someone the victim knows and is likely to see again. Feelings of shame, humiliation, embarrassment and guilt are also common for people who have been assaulted. They may blame themselves, turn their hurt inward or just want to forget what happened. For men these issues can be compounded by the fact that there are fewer services available, and male sexual assault is less talked about and somewhat less common.
If you are female and have recently been sexually assaulted, you can take an Emergency Contraceptive Pill within three days to prevent pregnancy.
Everyone is vulnerable to being sexually assaulted regardless of age, ability, appearance, race, profession, gender, or income.