There are many commonly held myths and misconceptions around behaviours that you may be thinking of reporting. These myths can lead to an increased prevalence of issues, poor support for victims/survivors, and/or incorrect outcomes in formal reporting procedures. Here at Southampton we are committed to speaking up and challenging these myths and harmful narratives.

Myths on Sexual Misconduct and Abuse

Myth: If two people have had sex 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 your sexual partners and make sure that anything sexual that happens between you is what you both want, every time. 

Myth: Someone who's drunk lots of alcohol or taken drugs have no right to complain if they end up being raped or sexually assaulted. They should have made safer choices.

Fact: Having sex with a person who is incapacitated through alcohol or drugs is rape. 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.  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: It's not a big deal if I have unprotected sex with my partner/a person who agreed to have sex with me even if they asked me to wear a condom. 

Fact:  Consent is specific, that is, if your partner has sex with you based on the condition of having protected sex, violating that condition amounts to sexual violence. For example, stealthing- where a partner/person removes their condom just before ejaculation despite their partner wanting them to have protected sex all along- is a form of sexual violence. 

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: 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. 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: 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 support services or justice.

Myth: LGBT+ people experience less sexual violence than the general population. 

Fact: LGBT+ people experience similar or higher levels of sexual violence. 

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

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