Popular Misconceptions

There are many deeply engrained, widely held, and popular misconceptions (or myths) about sexual violence.

Why are these misconceptions so popular?

Sexual violence is a complex social issue. Many of the popular misconceptions about sexual violence offer simplified explanations about why sexual violence happens, who experiences it, and who perpetrates it. These simplified explanations are appealing. 

We also have a natural desire to seek feelings of safety and security. These popular misconceptions create and maintain a sense of safety and separation – unfortunately, when it comes to sexual violence this is a false sense of safety and separation. 

Popular misconceptions distance us personally from the issue of sexual violence. 

  • They lead us to believe that we don’t know people who commit sexual violence and that we would never associate with people who commit sexual violence, therefore we are safe from sexual violence.
  • They also lead us to believe that only certain types of people experience sexual violence. For example, only young intoxicated women, dressed provocatively, out late at night, and hanging around with strangers get sexually assaulted. Believing this allows us to assume that if we simply make different choices, we will be safe from sexual violence. 

It takes a great deal of courage to face the realities of this prevalent and complex social issue and the harm caused by it. 

An essential step towards ending sexual violence is acknowledging and confronting the realities of sexual violence. Doing so would bring about a positive shift in our collective understanding of sexual violence and what we can all do to end it. We are in this together!