Below are some of the myths and prejudices that are unfortunately still alive and well today, and which, among other things, serve to minimize or trivialize the impacts of sexual assault. Together, we can put a stop to this!

Sexual violence doesn’t concern me because I’ve never been a victim.

FALSE ! Given the statistics and the number of people affected by sexual violence, it is almost certain that, at some point in your life, you will know of someone who has been assaulted or who has committed an assault. Coming in contact with a sexual assault victim or with an assailant is a very real possibility, and one that may result in a roller coaster of emotions.

Sexual assault can be a miscommunication between the victim and the assailant.

FALSE ! Ever hear the saying that “when a woman says no, she really means maybe”? This is false—a refusal never implies consent to continue the sexual activity. One thing is certain: NO means NO, end of story. People also have the right to change their minds at any point in a sexual encounter, even if certain sexual acts, such as kissing, have already taken place.

Victims may experience pleasurable sensations during the assault.

TRUE ! Some people experience sexual arousal during an assault. However, sexual assaults are always unacceptable acts of violence, regardless of whether the victim felt any pleasure.

“Easy girls” are more likely to be victims of sexual assault.

FALSE ! Nobody is immune to sexual assault and nobody ever deserves to become a victim of a violent crime—regardless of age, behaviour, reputation, origin, etc., and regardless of whether you’re a child, woman, or man.

Men who are assaulted by women are not really victims.

FALSE ! Men who have been sexually assaulted by either a woman or a man will suffer consequences similar to those of female victims .

It is important to avoid any and all discrimination when it comes to sexual assault. Some men who have been sexually assaulted, whether in the past or recently, may find it difficult to ask for help. In fact, in today’s society, we have become accustomed to the stereotype of men being strong, virile, and not easily pushed around. This prejudice only serves to undermine the fight against sexual assault, and it must be abandoned. If you are a man who has been assaulted, talk to someone—it’s an important first step to getting the help you need.

Sexual assault is often caused by alcohol and drug use.

FALSE ! People who commit sexual assault may use these excuses to downplay the seriousness of their actions. However, they are 100% responsible for their behaviour and no outside factors, such as alcohol or drug use, can excuse or justify a sexual assault. Take driving as an example: Alcohol and drugs are never considered to be mitigating factors in determining responsibility.

Sexual assaults are always spontaneous.

FALSE ! Most sexual assaults are premeditated, which means they are planned in advance. Sexual assaults are often committed by men or women who want to force sexual intimacy.

Sexual assault victims deliberately make up stories to get attention and sympathy from others.

FALSE ! Unfortunately, it is a common reaction to think people are lying. Men and women who have been sexually assaulted are often reluctant to report the crime for fear of other people’s reactions, of being interrogated about the circumstances (how they were dressed, why they were alone in a bar, etc.), of being judged by others, or of retaliation from the perpetrator.

Men who sexually assault boys are homosexual.

FALSE ! Sexual violence is not about sexual orientation—it’s about power and control. However, sexual assailants do sometimes have preferences as to the sex and age of their victims.

People who become sexually aroused or have an orgasm during a sexual assault must have consented because they experienced pleasure.

FALSE ! It is possible to feel aroused during an assault. Sexual arousal is an involuntary, automatic reaction—it does not justify the attack and can never be interpreted as consent.

Boys who have been sexually assaulted will become homosexuals.

FALSE ! Sexual assault is never a determining factor in a victim’s sexual orientation. It is false to think a person is homosexual because he or she was assaulted by someone of the same sex.