“Rape myths make it really difficult to secure convictions… it’s this really dark irony where, exactly what people are expecting and what they want to see to feel comfortable enough to convict is the opposite of what women and children actually face.”
– Bri Lee (survivor advocate and legal academic)
WOMEN MAKE FALSE ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS TO GET BACK AT MEN OR BECAUSE THEY REGRET A SEXUAL ENCOUNTER
POLICE DON’T TAKE VICTIMS WHO WERE INTOXICATED DURING THEIR ASSAULT SERIOUSLY
ALCOHOL IS TO BLAME FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT
MEN ARE PERPETRATORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, NOT VICTIMS.
SEXUAL ASSAULTS OCCUR IN DARK ALLEYWAYS HELD AT KNIFE POINT BY “CREEPY” OLD MEN
MEN WHO PERPETRATE SEXUAL ASSAULT DO SO BECAUSE THEY WERE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED AS CHILDREN, “VIOLENT MEN COME FROM VIOLENT HOMES”
YOU CANNOT BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY YOUR PARTNER
IT’S NOT SEXUAL ASSAULT IF THEY CONSENTED
IF YOU WERE BEING ABUSED BY A PARTNER, YOU WOULD JUST LEAVE
IT’S NOT REALLY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IF THERE IS NO PHYSICAL ABUSE
RAPE IS OFTEN FOLLOWED BY MURDER
SEXUAL ASSAULT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE
THE CLOSER THE VICTIM IS TO THE PERPETRATOR, THE LESS LIKELY THEY ARE TO REPORT
DURING TRIAL, BARRISTERS WILL BRING UP YOUR SEXUAL HISTORY AND ‘SLUT SHAME’ YOU
THERE IS NO POINT REPORTING MY SEXUAL ASSAULT BECAUSE THE PERPETRATOR WILL GET AWAY WITH IT ANYWAY
PERPETRATORS ARE MENTALLY UNSTABLE
THE NUMBER OF REPORTED SEXUAL ASSAULTS IS SO LOW, SEXUAL ASSAULT MUSN’T BE THAT COMMON
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AREN’T ASSAULTED
SEXUAL ASSAULT IS A UNIVERSALLY UNDERSTANDABLE PROBLEM
LGBTQIA+ PEOPLE are DISPROPORTIONATELY TARGETED
ALL VICTIMS SEEK SUPPORT AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT
IF A VICTIM DOESN’T REPORT STRAIGHT AWAY, THEY WON’T BE BELIEVED.
RAPE IS A RESULT OF MEN NOT BEING ABLE TO CONTROL THEMSELVES
IF A VICTIM DOES NOT CLEARLY REMEMBER THEIR SEXUAL ASSAULT, THEY MUST BE LYING
THE EFFECTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ARE ONLY MENTAL
WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED THAN GIRLS
IF A VICTIM IS NOT OBVIOUSLY TRAUMATISED, THEY MUST BE LYING
IF A VICTIM DIDN’T WANT SEX THEY WOULD FIGHT BACK DURING THEIR ASSAULT
With us you can get the facts
With You We Can debunk myths used to discredit victims and excuse perpetrators
MYTH: WOMEN MAKE FALSE ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS TO GET BACK AT MEN OR BECAUSE THEY REGRET A SEXUAL ENCOUNTER
FALSE: Research is clear that false allegations are not common, around 3%.
Reports can be labelled false for a variety of reasons other than them being fabricated, including if the allegation lacks evidence, if police decide the victim isn’t credible, or if a report is made on someone’s behalf and the victim does not want to pursue the allegation.
A range of personal and contextual factors can influence whether someone actually falsely reports a sexual assault, mostly stemming from a need for assistance, rather than malice. Even studies that suggest the rate of false allegations may be higher acknowledge that most are not malicious (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020). For example, a victim might make a false allegation out of fear; they might have been assaulted by a partner, not sexually, but fear that if they do not report the perpetrator the next assault will escalate. Or, they might make an allegation to police about a historic act and say it happened recently, to protect themselves from the perpetrator.
Any person who does make a false allegation will never get further than making a statement – not only will there not be evidence to make an arrest, police will not spend time and resources on an untrue allegation. They often don’t pursue cases for victims who are telling the truth and have evidence, so why would they believe a false allegation without any evidence? This is not widely known, which is why people may still be doubtful of a victim’s credibility after a perpetrator has been charged.
MYTH: POLICE DON’T TAKE VICTIMS WHO WERE INTOXICATED DURING THEIR ASSAULT SERIOUSLY
FALSE: Although alcohol is frequently used to discredit victims, perpetuating a misconception that intoxicated victims consent to sex, but are later regretful or ‘forget’ consenting in the first place, it is also a dark reflection of how a lot of perpetrators operate. Many perpetrators supply alcohol to commit sexual assault, or rely on their victim being intoxicated. Police know this. If you report, police might ask about your level of intoxication to determine the accuracy of your memory, and to understand how and why the perpetrator chose to assault you. The perpetrator will also be asked these questions should the case be investigated.
Police should take any sexual assault report seriously, regardless of your level of intoxication. If you experience blame or discrimination by police when reporting, we can help you to lodge a complaint.
MYTH: ALCOHOL IS TO BLAME FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT
FALSE: There is a strong correlation between intoxication and sexual assault. In fact, 50% of female victims believe that alcohol or other substances contributed to their most recent sexual assault (ABS, 2021). Perpetrators agree; the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia Program found that 28% of men detained by police for sexual assault in 2016, 2017 and 2018 felt their use of illicit drugs and/or alcohol contributed to the offence for which they were detained (AIHW, 2020).
The word contribute implies that some people believe that alcohol caused or brought about their assault. This shifts blame away from the perpetrator and onto the victim. Alcohol does not cause assaults, perpetrators do.
Some victims may blame themselves for being intoxicated and ‘allowing the assault to happen’, however, by law, you cannot consent to sexual activity if you are substantially intoxicated. Others may excuse the actions of the perpetrator because alcohol ‘impaired their judgement’, but intoxication is not an excuse for assaulting, nor does it justify being assaulted.
MYTH: MEN ARE PERPETRATORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, NOT VICTIMS.
TRUE AND FALSE: In 2018-2019, 97% of sexual assaults in Australia were perpetrated by men. The number of Australian adults who have experienced sexual assault by a male perpetrator since the age of 15 is 6 times that of those who have experienced sexual assault by a female perpetrator (AIHW, 2020). Women are 8 times more likely to experience sexual violence by a partner than men are by a partner (ECAV, 2021).
Men are also victims of sexual assault. As of 2016, 1 in 25 men had been sexually assaulted since the age of 15, and in 2019 17% of victims were male (AIHW, 2020). Men may be particularly vulnerable to rape in institutional settings such as the military, churches, schools and prison, as they are more likely to be assaulted by other men than by women.
MYTH: SEXUAL ASSAULTS OCCUR IN DARK ALLEYWAYS HELD AT KNIFE POINT BY STRANGE, “CREEPY”, OLD MEN
- More than 64% of sexual assaults occur in a residential area (2017-18)
- Fewer than 1 in 5 females specify their perpetrator as a stranger (2017-18)
- Males aged 15-19 had the highest offender rates of any age group (2018-19)
- 1 in 5 women sustained injuries during their most recent sexual assault by a male perpetrator—but most commonly bruises (85%) (2016)
- In 2017–18, 224 hospitalised sexual assault cases were included in the National Hospital Morbidity Database, 208 of which were women aged 15 and over. Of the 208, 35% were hospitalised after sexual assault for injuries to the trunk (spine, abdomen and pelvis), 20% for injuries to the head, and 19% for burns.
- The age-standardised rate of sexual assault hospitalised cases for Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over was 11 times as high as that for other Australians during the same time (2017-18)
- Although, when including all types of domestic and family violence assaults, Indigenous women and girls are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised compared to non-Indigenous women and girls (Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report, 2011). Another report cites this rate as 80 times more likely (Office of the Children’s Commission Northern Territory, 2014)
As of 2017, 1 in 3 Australians were unaware that a woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone she knows (NCAS 2017). In fact, both men and women are more likely to experience sexual violence by someone they know (ECAV, 2019). Awareness of this fact has not improved since 2013 (NCAS 2017).
MYTH: YOU CANNOT BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY YOUR PARTNER
FALSE: 1 in 3 offenders are classified as a family member, which includes a spouse, domestic partner or boyfriend/girlfriend (AIHW, 2020). Alcohol abuse and frequent engagement with pornography are strong contributors to perpetration in a current relationship (Cox, 2015).
However, the 2017 NCAS estimated that, of Australians aged 16 and over, 1 in 5 were unaware that non-consensual sex in marriage is against the law (NCAS 2017).
Contributing to the perpetuation of this myth, is that young women rarely identify sexual coercion in their partners. it can be difficult to distinguish between sexual coercion and reluctantly agreeing to sex – particularly when society misconstrues consent as a ‘given’ in relationships. Coercive control may also be used to manipulate the victim into thinking they are responsible for or have consented to the abuse, and that there will be negative consequences if they disclose their assault.
Sexual coercion in a previous relationship is predictive of sexual coercion in a current relationship (AIC, 2021).
MYTH: IT’S NOT SEXUAL ASSAULT IF THEY CONSENTED
FALSE: It depends on whether consent was coerced or whether it was freely given. Sexual coercion refers to unwanted sexual activity that occurs after someone is pressured, manipulated or threatened non-physically into giving ‘consent’. It can look like saying no several times before saying yes, or a bad sexual experience that a person didn’t feel completely comfortable engaging in. When consent is not freely and voluntarily given, it is invalid. As a result, sexual activity resulting from coerced consent is sexual assault.
There are several reasons why sexual coercion is not widely recognised as sexual assault, such as a culture of male entitlement, victims shaming themselves for having said ‘yes’, and excusing sexual coercion by a partner. Check out our Instagram post ‘Let’s talk coercion’ to learn more.
MYTH: IF YOU WERE BEING ABUSED BY A PARTNER, YOU WOULD JUST LEAVE
FALSE: Offenders often build a relationship with their victim involving trust, power and fear, rendering it difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible, for victims to discontinue a relationship with their abuser after an assault. While physical or sexual violence may be used as a means of control, a perpetrator may use coercive control, which includes non-physical behaviours such as interfering with familial relationships, monitoring movements and restricting access to money (AIC, 2021).
Victims may fear for their safety or the safety of their children, friends or pets. Or, victims may fear being ostracised from their community. This is particularly true of small, interconnected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, where disclosing victimisation is associated with shame, and leaving means leaving land.
Besides, leaving an abusive relationship is associated with a heightened risk of violence, including lethal violence (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020), i.e. statistically, a victim is most likely to be murdered when they try to leave.
In regards to getting an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO), 1 in 4 women killed by a male partner were protected under an ADVO against the male homicide offender, and 1 in 7 men killed by a female partner were protected under an ADVO against the female homicide offender (ECAV, 2019).
The violence does not stop just because the victim and perpetrator separate.
MYTH: IT’S NOT REALLY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IF THERE IS NO PHYSICAL ABUSE
FALSE: All Australian jurisdictions recognise domestic violence as assault or personal injury to the victim (including sexual assault), damage to the victim’s property as domestic violence, as well as threats of such behaviour. Most jurisdictions recognise intimidation as domestic violence. Most jurisdictions recognise emotional abuse as domestic violence, and in jurisdictions where ‘emotional’ or ‘psychological’ abuse are not expressly dealt with, legislation nevertheless covers at least some kinds of conduct that could be described in those terms (The National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009).
It is becoming increasingly common to refer to domestic violence as ‘domestic abuse’, in recognition that there is often no physical violence involved.
MYTH: RAPE IS OFTEN FOLLOWED BY MURDER
FALSE: In the six years preceding June of 2018, only 1.2% of homicides were preceded by sexual assault (AIHW, 2020).
MYTH: DURING TRIAL, BARRISTERS WILL BRING UP YOUR SEXUAL HISTORY AND ‘SLUT SHAME’ YOU
TRUE AND FALSE: All states generally restrict the admission of evidence of the complainant’s sexual reputation and sexual history in sexual assault proceedings (ALRC, 2010).
In NSW, the ACT and SA, the courts can hear evidence relating to the complainant’s sexual history with the defendant only. Although, the courts must be satisfied that such information is relevant to the trial. In VIC, WA and TAS, no evidence of the complainant’s sexual history with the defendant or any other persons is admissible. Uniquely, WA allows the complainant to bring up their sexual history should they wish.
Evidence of a complainant’s prior sexual history is more likely to be admitted in proceedings concerning sexual offences perpetrated in a domestic violence context, as compared with other sexual assault proceedings, because the complainant likely had consensual sex with the defendant before or after the assault.
As for sexual reputation (separate to sexual history), evidence is inadmissible in all states except for the NT, where evidence may be admissible if substantially relevant to the facts in issue.
However, in all states, evidence relating to the sexual reputation of a witness, including a child witness, who is NOT a complainant, is admissible if substantially relevant.
MYTH: THERE IS NO POINT REPORTING MY SEXUAL ASSAULT BECAUSE THE PERPETRATOR WILL GET AWAY WITH IT ANYWAY
FALSE: Regardless of what happens after you report your assault, your report is always going to be on record. This isn’t a criminal record, however, a record of the events of your assault, a bail record if any charges were made, and a record of what happened during any court proceedings, will always be in the police system. This means that if your offender assaults someone else who also chooses to report them, your report can provide emotional support to any future victim, should the perpetrator be a repeat offender. See reporting for more information.
Moreover, if police do charge the perpetrator and you go to court, it is more likely that the perpetrator will be found guilty than not-guilty (AIHW, 2020).
MYTH: SEXUAL ASSAULT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE
FALSE: Many people experience multiple forms of violence and abuse at co-occurring or different stages of their lives.
Those who experienced child sexual assault or intimate partner sexual violence are more likely to experience sexual assault again.
- Women who experienced child sexual assault are more likely than those who have not to experience domestic violence in their adult relationships (Cox, 2015).
- The majority of people who experienced violence from a partner, experienced multiple incidents of violence (ABS, 2017). Multiple acts of violence repeated by the same perpetrator is known as reoffending or recidivism.
- Women who are victims of intimate partner sexual violence are significantly more likely to experience intimate partner sexual violence in their next relationship (Cox, 2015).
- Those with histories of mental illness are particularly vulnerable to re-victimisation (ECAV, 2019).
MYTH: PERPETRATORS ARE MENTALLY UNSTABLE
FALSE: It is the victim who is more likely to be affected by mental illness.
There is a strong correletion between victims of sexual abuse and mental illness, and individuals with a history of mental illness are particularly vulnerable to re-victimisation. Women who experience intimate partner sexual violence, a subset of domestic violence involving sexual assault, report a rate of suicide attempt 5.3 times higher than domestic violence victims (Cox, 2015).
It is a huge misconception that because someone does something bad or even out of character, they are mentally unwell. Men assault for a variety of reasons, most of them to assert dominance – and very rarely because they are so mentally unwell that they cannot control their actions, or do not understand that what they are doing is wrong. Specialists struggle to diagnose perpetrators with any kind of mental illness that can justify their actions.
MYTH: THE CLOSER THE VICTIM IS TO THE PERPETRATOR, THE LESS LIKELY THEY ARE TO REPORT
- Women who were raped by an acquaintance were 2.3 times more likely to report the incident to police.
- Women raped by a stranger were 5.2 times more likely to report the incident to police (Cox, 2015).
Given that the majority of perpetrators are known to their victim, this is a significant reason as to why reporting rates are so low.
MYTH: LGBTQIA+ PEOPLE ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY TARGETED
TRUE: Members of the LBGTQIA+ communities face significantly higher rates of sexual violence (AIHW, 2020). Members of the LBGTQIA+ communities face higher rates of poverty, stigma and marginalisation, which puts them at greater risk of sexual assault. However, heterosexism is the underlying social climate that allows such abuse and discrimination to occur (Fileborn, 2012).
Gay and bisexual men report higher levels of sexual victimisation than heterosexual men, and bisexual women more than lesbian or heterosexual women (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020).
As for intimate partner sexual violence, trans individuals face a higher rate than other groups in the LGBTQIA+ community, with 50% of trans people reporting having been raped by a partner (National Coalition of Anti-violence Programs, 2014).
MYTH: IF A VICTIM DOESN’T REPORT STRAIGHT AWAY, THEY WON’T BE BELIEVED.
FALSE: Only 1 in 10 (10%) of people believe that women are ‘probably lying’ about sexual assault if they do not report it straightaway (AIHW, 2020)…. meaning 9 in 10 believe them!
Delayed reporting is very common. Of sexual assaults reported between 2014 and 2019, 46.5% were reports of an incident that occurred within that week, while 53.1% were reports of an incident that occurred over a week ago (ABS, 2021).Victims delay reporting for various reasons including confusion, guilt, shock, fear of backlash from the perpetrator, mistrust of police, stereotypes about the judicial system and a lack of understanding about their own assault.
MYTH: ALL VICTIMS SEEK SUPPORT AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT
FALSE: The 2016 PSS found that only half of female victims sought support from 1 or more source after their most recent incident of sexual assault perpetrated by a male.
Of those who did: 7 in 10 sought support from a friend or family member; 4 in 10 sought support from a general practitioner or other health professional; more than 1 in 4 sought advice or support from a counsellor, support worker or telephone helpline; and only 1 in 6 sought advice or support from police (AIHW, 2020).
MYTH: SEXUAL ASSAULT IS A UNIVERSALLY UNDERSTANDABLE PROBLEM
FALSE: Diverse normative understandings of what constitutes ‘real rape’ affects how victims, perpetrators and bystanders interpret sexual assault. These norms particularly negatively affect interpretations of intimate partner sexual violence.
The most simplistic example of this is the belief that rape is more real if it is physically violent, or perpetrated by a stranger. ‘Real rapes’ also create ‘real victims’ – women who kick and scream during their rape, report their rape immediately, and remain vigilant following their assaults. Most victims, and most perpetrators, do not fit these stereotypes.
Social norms regarding sexuality, and sex within relationships, also increase the negative impact of intimate partner sexual violence and re-victimisation, with a lack of community understanding being characterised as “one of the most injurious aspects of intimate partner sexual violence” (Cox, 2015).
Victims are often perceived to be lying, attention seeking or having misunderstood their assault. Of Australians aged 16 and over, the 2017 NCAS estimates that:
- 1 in 10 believed that women were ‘probably lying’ about sexual assault if they did not report it straightaway.
- 2 in 5 agreed that ‘it was common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men’.
- 1 in 8 agreed that a man is justified in having non-consensual sex if the woman initiated intimacy in a scenario where a couple had just met, and 1 in 7 (15%) agreed this was justi ed in a scenario where the couple were married and the woman initiated intimacy (NCAS, 2017).
The likelihood that victims of intimate partner sexual violence are perceived by police, friends and family as lying or having had a ‘miscommunication’ rather than an assault, increases with greater familiarity between the victim and the perpetrator. Intimate partner sexual violence is also associated with more negative reactions than other forms of domestic violence (Cox, 2015).
MYTH: MEN WHO PERPETRATE SEXUAL ASSAULT DO SO BECAUSE THEY WERE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED AS CHILDREN, “VIOLENT MEN COME FROM VIOLENT HOMES”
FALSE: Most child sexual assault survivors do not perpetrate sexual assault, with over 90% of adolescent sexual offenders not having experienced child sexual assault (Cox, 2015).
Survivors of child sexual abuse and of emotional abuse are more likely to be victims of abuse as adults (Cox, 2015) (PSS, 2016).
MYTH: RAPE IS A RESULT OF MEN NOT BEING ABLE TO CONTROL THEMSELVES
FALSE: Although 1 in 3 people over the age of 16 believe this (NCAS, 2017), rape has nothing to do with a male being unable to control their ‘animal instincts’.
MYTH: PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AREN’T ASSAULTED
FALSE: People experiencing a disability are especially vulnerable to sexual assault. In fact, people experiencing disabilities experience a higher rate of physical, sexual and physical violence (AIHW, 2022). People experiencing a disability are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse, given the perpetrator may be their carer.
Women with a disability are twice as likely to experience sexual violence over one year compared to women without a disability (Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, 2021).
Perpetrators are more likely to target a person with an intellectual disability, perceiving them to be unable to make coherent accusations. This is in part due to the disproven misconception that people with disabilities and mental health issues are unreliable witnesses (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020). 90% of women with an intellectual disability have experienced sexual abuse (Royal Commission, 2021).
MYTH: THE EFFECTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ARE ONLY MENTAL
FALSE: The physical impacts of sexual assault, particularly re-victimisation and intimate partner sexual violence, are diverse and long-lasting.
On top of depression, anxiety, suicidality, OCD, PTSD, body dysmorphia and eating disorders, assault can result in injury, stress-related conditions, STIs and gynaecological issues. Women who experience intimate partner sexual violence are 3.4 times as likely to miscarriage compared to women who had not experienced intimate partner sexual violence, and 2.7 times more likely to develop cervical cancer, possibly due to increased transmission of the human papilloma virus (Cox, 2015).
Women who experience child sexual abuse are more likely to have poor general health (Coles et al., 2018) and to have higher higher long-term primary, allied, and specialist health care costs in adulthood (Loxton et al., 2018).
In 2019, partner violence was ranked as the third leading risk factor contributing to total disease burden for women aged 25–44 (AIHW, 2019).
MYTH: IF A VICTIM DIDN’T WANT SEX THEY WOULD FIGHT BACK DURING THEIR ASSAULT
FALSE: The majority of victims do not fight back during their assault.
Rather than fight, victims tend to display one of the other Fs – flight, freeze or fawn – which are the body’s natural responses to trauma.
Fighting can escalate an assault. Of victims who do resist, it has been found that verbal resistance, such as trying to talk a perpetrator down, is more common than physical resistance (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020). This aligns with the fact that most victims match the level of aggression of the perpetrator; given that most rapes are not perpetrated violently using a weapon, physical resistance is most common.
Offenders may build trust so that victims do not realise something inappropriate is occurring, or a victim may be uneducated about their assault, i.e. fail to realise they have been assaulted.
Research has also found that unwanted sexual arousal and physiological responses can occur during sexual assault, and such responses do not indicate that the person consented to sexual activity (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020).
MYTH: WOMEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED THAN GIRLS
FALSE: In 2018, the rate of police-recorded sexual assaults against children aged 0-14 was nearly twice that of people over age 15, and 3.5 times higher for girls than boys (AIHW, 2020).
MYTH: THE NUMBER OF REPORTED SEXUAL ASSAULTS IS SO LOW, SEXUAL ASSAULT MUSN’T BE THAT COMMON
FALSE: 1 in 6 women and 1 in 25 men have been sexually assaulted since the age of 15. Between 2010 and 2018, rates of sexual assault victimisation recorded by police for Australians aged 15 and over rose by more than 30%, but based on 2018 data, it is estimated that only ~13% of sexual assaults are reported to police (AIHW 2020). Rates of non-disclosure are higher in Indigenous communities, with studies indicating that around 90% of violence against Indigenous women goes unreported (Willis, 2011).
MYTH: IF A VICTIM IS NOT OBVIOUSLY TRAUMATISED, THEY MUST BE LYING
FALSE: Research has found that emotional victims of sexual assault are perceived as more credible, however emotional reactions following a sexual assault are highly variable. Two basic responses to assault are visible displays of stress, and numbed emotions. Reactions also change during different times of the judicial process, due to re-traumatisation, or, conversely, counselling (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020).
MYTH: IF A VICTIM DOES NOT CLEARLY REMEMBER THEIR SEXUAL ASSAULT, THEY MUST BE LYING
FALSE: Misconceptions about human memory contribute to low rates of reporting and conviction of sexual assaults. Many do not understand that fragmented, confused and inconsistent memories lacking in details is normal for victims. Omissions, and differences between accounts, are normal features of everybody’s memories. Following traumatic events, memories are typically impaired with amnesia or amnesic gaps (Tidmarsh & Hamilton, 2020). Some victims may forget elements of their assault altogether, because they are actively trying to block the memories out.