SEXUAL ASSAULT: MISUNDERSTANDINGS AND MYTHS

Perhaps because it is a subject we don’t like to talk about, or because the topic is so complex, we tend to know very little about the realities of sexual assault. If we do hear about it, the information is often incorrect, and this perpetuates confusion and lack of understanding. So here are some truths about sexual assault.

It is not uncommon. Researchers have estimated that only about one in ten cases of sexual assault arc reported. It has been suggested that one in ten women will be raped in their lifetime. Approximately 93 per cent of adult sexual assault victims are women. Rape occurs in 7 to 12 per cent of all marriages. Incest may occur in one in ten homes. Accurate statistics are difficult to gather, as sexual assault is under-reported.

It is not simply about sex. Offenders do not assault victims simply for sexual gratification. Sexual assault is about a person exerting power, hostility and aggression.

Offenders are rarely strangers or ‘weirdos’. The majority of victims (child and adult) know the offender. The person who assaulted them is often a person who has been trusted by the victim, and has taken advantage of that relationship and trust, particularly in cases of incest and child sexual abuse. Offenders are not typically deranged, psychotic, or mentally ill. They are usually ‘normal’ people, performing criminal, aggressive and damaging offences against less-powerful victims.

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