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Definitions, Myths and Facts

To build our understanding of gendered violence, its causes, and how to support survivors this page includes key terms, definitions, myths and facts and web resources.

Dispelling Myths of Sexual Violence

Myth: If a woman initiates kissing or "hooking up," she should not be surprised if a guy assumes she wants to have sex.

Fact: If someone agrees to engage in one intimate act, that does not mean they agree to everything. Consent is ongoing and cannot be assumed or implied. It is important to check in with your intimate partner(s) to ensure they are still on board. If they are not, respect their boundaries.

Myth: If it really happened, the survivor would be able to easily recount all the facts in the proper order.

Fact: It is incredibly common for shock, fear, distress, and other manifestations of trauma to impact a person’s memory. Many survivors attempt to minimize or forget the details of the sexual violence as a way of coping.

Myth: If a person doesn’t say “no” or fight back, then they can’t claim sexual assault.

Fact: There are many reasons a person may not resist or say "no" and all are valid. Experiencing an assault often causes the body to freeze up and delay verbal or physical responses. A person may be fearful that if they struggle, the perpetrator will become more violent. Also, if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be physically unable to resist.

Myth: If a guy is drunk he might sexually assault someone unintentionally.

Fact: Intoxication is not an excuse for committing sexual assault. While alcohol may alter one’s decision making process, choosing to touch someone inappropriately without their consent is never excusable.

Myth: A lot of times, women who say they were sexually assaulted agreed to have sex and then regret it.

Fact: False reports of sexual violence only make up between 2% and 8% of all formal sexual violence disclosures in North America. This is less than the average number of false reports for other crimes such as theft. It takes a lot of courage to report an assault as many survivors are aware of the likelihood of being re-victimized throughout the legal process.

Myth: If a woman acts like a "slut," eventually she is going to get into trouble.

Fact: A women’s sexual history is not an indicator for experiencing sexual violence. Sexual assault is a way to express power and control over another person and is never the victim’s fault. Women who are highly sexually active have the right, just like everyone else, to decide when and where they want to be sexually intimate and who they want to be sexually intimate with.