Myth#1: Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers.
Reality: Most sexual assaults are committed by perpetrators known to the victim (for instance, acquaintances or family members). Sometimes, because a victim knows the perpetrator, (s)he is less likely to recognize that the assault is a crime – but it is!
Myth#2: Men cannot control their sexual urges, so if a woman arouses her date, she deserves what happens.
Reality: Firstly, men can control their urges. Secondly, sexual assault is not about passion or desire – it is about power and control. And thirdly, the victim is never to blame for sexual assault. Even if (s)he engages in kissing and touching, (s)he can still say “no more.”
Myth#3: Victims will often lie about being sexually assaulted because they feel guilty about having sex.
Reality: Sexual assault continues to be a hugely underreported crime, and court proceedings often spotlight the victim’s experiences – victims rarely make false reports.
Myth#4: The highest number of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men of a certain race, religion, economic status or ethnicity.
Reality: Sexual assault is perpetrated by people from every racial, economic, ethnic, and social group. (The vast majority of perpetrators, however, continue to be men.)
Myth#5: Women cannot really be sexually assaulted by their partners, boyfriends, or husbands.
Reality: The law grants all individuals the right to say no to sexual activity, even in dating, common-law, and married relationships.
Myth#6: Men cannot be sexually assaulted.
Reality: Men too can be – and are – assaulted. Most often the perpetrator is another man, though women are capable of assaulting men as well. The social expectation that says that a “real man” would not let himself be assaulted increases the likelihood that men will not report the crime to the police. Promoting education about sexual assault requires us to understand – and change – how gender roles affect women and men.
What do the Statistics Show?
- Over 1/3 of Canadian adult women would share having at least one experience of sexual assault since they turned 16.2
- Sexual assaults go unreported to police more often than other types of violent offences, regardless of whether the victim is female or male.3
- In 2008, females were over 10 times more likely than males to be victims of police-reported sexual assault.4
- In 2004, relatives or acquaintances of the victim made up 70% of perpetrators of sexual assault.5
- In 2008, male victims of sexual assault were more often than female victims to be sexually assaulted by family members other than spouses, and by friends and acquaintances. 6
2 Johnson, H., Measuring Violence Against Women–Statistical Trends 2006. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2006.
3 Vallaincourt, Roxan. Gender Differences in Police-Reported Violent Crime in Canada, 2008. Minister of Industry, 2010.
5 Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2005.
6 Gender Differences.
7 Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2009.
10 The above steps have been adapted from the Little Warriors steps to prevention. Little Warriors is a Canadian charity focused on educating adults on how to help prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.