Myths and biases

Several ideas on sexual violence are conveyed within society. They are repeated by different means throughout society, which leads to their internalization and often end up being seen as absolute truths. Yet, these ideas come from rape culture, a culture that aims to blame victims and rid perpetrators of their responsibility for the sexual violence they have committed. Let us debunk a few of the most frequently encountered myths and biases below.

Most victims have caused the assault to happen because of the way they were dressed or their behavior.

Nobody wants to be assaulted. No victim is responsible for the assault they have suffered, no matter their clothing, where they were, what they were doing, or the relationship they had with the perpetrator. The only person responsible is the one who decided to pose a violent act, thus, the perpetrator.

Most victims have caused the assault to happen because of the way they were dressed or their behavior.

Nobody wants to be assaulted. No victim is responsible for the assault they have suffered, no matter their clothing, where they were, what they were doing, or the relationship they had with the perpetrator. The only person responsible is the one who decided to pose a violent act, thus, the perpetrator.

Only 2% of all charges correspond to false accusations (Regroupement Québécois des CALACS, 2012). The percentage of false accusations is no greater in sexual violence cases than any other crime. Meanwhile, victims of sexual violence bear many myths and biases on their shoulders. Thus, when someone discloses having suffered sexual violence, this person is likely to be confronted by these myths and biases.

Reporting to the police requires a lot of time and courage, possibly awaking many feelings and emotions. It is a long and difficult process that keeps victims in the traumatic event. Nobody discloses such events for fun.

Among victims of sexual violence, only 5% lodged a complaint to the police (Statistique Canada, 2014). Moreover, many complaints do not lead to charges being pressed because not enough evidence could be provided. Out of the few complaints that find their way to court, few of them lead to a conviction.

When someone charged with sexual assault is declared “not guilty”, this does not mean that the person has not committed the crime, but that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the alleged perpetrator has assaulted the victim beyond reasonable doubt.

Many people make false accusations.

Many people make false accusations.

Only 2% of all charges correspond to false accusations (Regroupement Québécois des CALACS, 2012). The percentage of false accusations is no greater in sexual violence cases than any other crime. Meanwhile, victims of sexual violence bear many myths and biases on their shoulders. Thus, when someone discloses having suffered sexual violence, this person is likely to be confronted by these myths and biases.

Reporting to the police requires a lot of time and courage, possibly awaking many feelings and emotions. It is a long and difficult process that keeps victims in the traumatic event. Nobody discloses such events for fun.

Among victims of sexual violence, only 5% lodged a complaint to the police (Statistique Canada, 2014). Moreover, many complaints do not lead to charges being pressed because not enough evidence could be provided. Out of the few complaints that find their way to court, few of them lead to a conviction.

When someone charged with sexual assault is declared “not guilty”, this does not mean that the person has not committed the crime, but that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the alleged perpetrator has assaulted the victim beyond reasonable doubt.

Perpetrators have uncontrollable sexual desires.

Sexual desires are controllable. Anybody can decide to pursue them or put an end to them. If sexual desires were uncontrollable, everyone would have sexual encounters everywhere. Sexual assault corresponds to taking control and power over somebody else; the perpetrator takes power to dominate the victim. Sexual violence is often premeditated. Because perpetrators usually have a hidden intention, they will never tell their victim that they will assault them in order to keep their control and achieve their goal. To do so, they use manipulation or blackmail, make the victim feel guilty, or use physical force.

Perpetrators have uncontrollable sexual desires.

Sexual desires are controllable. Anybody can decide to pursue them or put an end to them. If sexual desires were uncontrollable, everyone would have sexual encounters everywhere. Sexual assault corresponds to taking control and power over somebody else; the perpetrator takes power to dominate the victim. Sexual violence is often premeditated. Because perpetrators usually have a hidden intention, they will never tell their victim that they will assault them in order to keep their control and achieve their goal. To do so, they use manipulation or blackmail, make the victim feel guilty, or use physical force.

Most perpetrators are people close to the victims. According to the Ministry of Public Security (2016), 86.3% of victims know their perpetrator. It is an acquaintance or a relative in nearly 35% of cases or a grandparent, a stepparent, an uncle, a cousin, an aunt, or a distant relative in 12,5% of cases. It is of note that 70% of assaults are committed inside private residences (Ministry of Public Security, 2015). Most of the time, perpetrators use the victims’ trust in them or their authority. They can use manipulation, threats, or blackmail. Committing sexual violence consists in taking control, not losing control.

Perpetrators are crazy, sick people.

Perpetrators are crazy, sick people.

Most perpetrators are people close to the victims. According to the Ministry of Public Security (2016), 86.3% of victims know their perpetrator. It is an acquaintance or a relative in nearly 35% of cases or a grandparent, a stepparent, an uncle, a cousin, an aunt, or a distant relative in 12,5% of cases. It is of note that 70% of assaults are committed inside private residences (Ministry of Public Security, 2015). Most of the time, perpetrators use the victims’ trust in them or their authority. They can use manipulation, threats, or blackmail. Committing sexual violence consists in taking control, not losing control.

A person cannot be assaulted by their spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend

“1 woman out of 7 is sexually assaulted at least once by their spouse” (Ministry of Public Security in RQCALACS, 2012, n.d.). Women have loads of social pressure to “sexually please their spouse” in order to be considered a “good” spouse/girlfriend/woman. However, under no circumstances can a person be forced to have sex no matter if it is with a spouse or anyone else.

A person cannot be assaulted by their spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend

“1 woman out of 7 is sexually assaulted at least once by their spouse” (Ministry of Public Security in RQCALACS, 2012, n.d.). Women have loads of social pressure to “sexually please their spouse” in order to be considered a “good” spouse/girlfriend/woman. However, under no circumstances can a person be forced to have sex no matter if it is with a spouse or anyone else.

Having physiological feelings/physiological reactions such as an erection, sexual tension, lubrication, etc., does not mean that the person was consenting whatsoever or that the person liked what happened. When the body is being stimulated, it is entirely normal for a reaction to be triggered whether it was desired or not. It consists of a purely physiological mechanism; stimulation = reaction. Therefore, head and heart can be screaming “no”, hating what is happening while the body is reacting anyway. This phenomenon can create devastating feelings of guiltiness and confusion for victims who hardly make sense of what is happening to them.

If a victim had physiological feelings/physiological reactions during the assault, this must mean that the person liked it.

If a victim had physiological feelings/physiological reactions during the assault, this must mean that the person liked it.

Having physiological feelings/physiological reactions such as an erection, sexual tension, lubrication, etc., does not mean that the person was consenting whatsoever or that the person liked what happened. When the body is being stimulated, it is entirely normal for a reaction to be triggered whether it was desired or not. It consists of a purely physiological mechanism; stimulation = reaction. Therefore, head and heart can be screaming “no”, hating what is happening while the body is reacting anyway. This phenomenon can create devastating feelings of guiltiness and confusion for victims who hardly make sense of what is happening to them.

If victims do not clearly say "no", this means that they consent

The absence of a “no”, does not equal the presence of a “yes”. The Canadian Criminal Code states that in order to get consent, people must express their agreement by words or actions. Therefore, for consent to be considered valid, people must ENTHOUSIASTICALLY say yes. Consequently, the absence of resistance does not translate into consent. Moreover, consent must be free, voluntary, and informed. In fact, in many cases of sexual violence, victims can be constrained by the fear of retaliation, of breaking up their family, of suffering physical violence, or dying, etc. Victims can also be in a context that prevents them from consenting. Indeed:

A person cannot give consent if he or she is incapable of expressing it (e.g. because of a physical or intellectual disability or intoxication) or if the other person involved is in a position of authority or uses threats, force or fraud to obtain consent. ” (Institut national de santé publique du Québec, 2020). In such a context, even a “yes” is not consent.

If victims do not clearly say "no", this means that they consent

The absence of a “no”, does not equal the presence of a “yes”. The Canadian Criminal Code states that in order to get consent, people must express their agreement by words or actions. Therefore, for consent to be considered valid, people must ENTHOUSIASTICALLY say yes. Consequently, the absence of resistance does not translate into consent. Moreover, consent must be free, voluntary, and informed. In fact, in many cases of sexual violence, victims can be constrained by the fear of retaliation, of breaking up their family, of suffering physical violence, or dying, etc. Victims can also be in a context that prevents them from consenting. Indeed:

A person cannot give consent if he or she is incapable of expressing it (e.g. because of a physical or intellectual disability or intoxication) or if the other person involved is in a position of authority or uses threats, force or fraud to obtain consent. ” (Institut national de santé publique du Québec, 2020). In such a context, even a “yes” is not consent.

Everybody can be a victim of sexual violence, no matter age, sex, ethnicity, social class, religion, or sexual orientation. However, certain groups of people are at greater risks due to the different oppressive systems and their intersectionality. Thus, women, people in the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous women, women with disabilities, racialized and immigrant women, sex workers, homeless women, women living in disadvantageous situations, elderly women and children find themselves at greater risks of being victims of sexual violence.

Some types of people will never be assaulted.

Some types of people will never be assaulted.

Everybody can be a victim of sexual violence, no matter age, sex, ethnicity, social class, religion, or sexual orientation. However, certain groups of people are at greater risks due to the different oppressive systems and their intersectionality. Thus, women, people in the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous women, women with disabilities, racialized and immigrant women, sex workers, homeless women, women living in disadvantageous situations, elderly women and children find themselves at greater risks of being victims of sexual violence.

Contact Information

Phone: 450-669-9053

Fax: (450) 669-1658

Email:
administration@cpivas.com

Mon - Fri from 8am to 5pm

+1 888-933-9007
EMERGENCY LINE 24H/7d

Postal Address

Post office box 27543
Pont Viau franchise
Laval, Québec, H7G 4Y2