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

Unless, otherwise noted, the content below has been adapted from the following, and

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.

4  Ibid.

5  Women in Canada: A Gender-based Statistical Report. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2005.

6 Gender Differences.

Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile.  Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2009.

8  Ibid.

9 Ibid.

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.

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