Rape Myths – The Offender
Myth- Those who rape are sick or not normal.
Fact- It is rare for rapists to be diagnosed with a mental illness. There are stereotypes of rapists as people who are unable to lead normal lives. The reality is that rapists are ‘normal’ men: husbands, partners, neighbours, work colleagues etc. It is diffcult for someone to call this person a rapist because they will feel disbelief about what happened and also feel that they wont be believed by others. Rapists are ordinary people, many are highly respected members of the community and in 1980 in England and Wales, only 2% of convicted rapists were considered to be in need of psychiatric treatment.
Myth- Rape is a crime of sexual needs or uncontrollable urges.
Fact- People can, and do, control their sexual urges. Rape is a crime of violence, control, degradation and intimidation. It is not about sex but about power. This statement is misleading as it implies that rape is about sex when the reality is that rape is an act of violence and it is about power and control.The vast majority of rapes are carefully planned.
Myth – ‘Classic’ rape is committed by a stranger lurking in an alleyway with a knife.
Fact- All rape is serious and there is no such thing as ‘real rape’ or ‘classic rape’. Rape involves someone having sex with you without your consent and contrary to popular belief most victims are overcome by the fear of violence rather than it’s actual use. So-called stranger attacks do happen but the vast majority of reported rapes involve a victim and offender who are known to each other in some way. Very often the relationship is a close one such as marriage or family. It is likely that an even greater proportion of the unreported rapes involve people who are known to each other.
Research shows that over 80% of rapists are known to the victim. he may be a friend, a workmate, relative or partner. These rapes are less likely to be reported to the police given the greater impact that reporting the rape will have on the victims personal life. This probably contributes to the widely held but mistaken myth that rape is,in most cases, committed by strangers.