I find it weird that rape is the only crime people tend to get really, really skeptical about. Like you could come up to someone and tell them that someone stole your car or vandalized your house or something, and they’d be like, “Oh no, that’s awful. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
But come up to that same person and say that you were raped, and it’s likely that their response will be more like, “Are you sure? Did you really fight it? Weren’t you kinda asking for it?”
And this isn’t okay. We have to believe survivors when they come forward with their stories. That act alone takes a lot of bravery and strength, and it’s so, so harmful to tell a survivor that they didn’t experience what they know they experienced.
So, because of that, here are ten lies we’re told about rape survivors, and why they’re not true at all.
1. They’re Lying About Being Raped
There are a couple of angles to this one. The first one is that, statistically, this is most likely not true. About 2 to 8% of rapes end up being false reports, which is lower than the 10% of false reports for other crimes. And that’s not to mention that a lot of what is considered a “false report” might actually have been real, but the survivor was pressured to recant their story.
The second part of this is that it’s just the more humane thing to believe someone when they tell you they’ve experienced a massive trauma. People’s feelings and emotions and wellbeing matter, and your default reaction to someone being in pain shouldn’t be to try and cause them more pain by denying what they’re telling you.
2. They Didn’t Report to the Police, So It Can’t Be Real
There are so many legitimate reasons a survivor might not report to the police.
Some people don’t realize until some time afterward that what happened to them was rape. If their partner is gaslighting them, for example – that is, making them doubt their own memory and experiences – they might be too unsure about it to report.
Others know that they could report, but choose not to because they’re afraid of the negative reaction they’ll get from the police. Because, let’s face it, a police station isn’t the most welcoming scenario to open up about something like that, and police officers are known for not knowing how to talk to survivors in a sensitive way.
Or maybe they just knew what kind of negative attention the whole thing would garner if they did report to the police, and they were afraid people weren’t going to believe them.
Or maybe they know that they don’t have enough evidence to convict someone in court, but they still know what happened to them. Going to the police isn’t the one true indicator of if someone was raped.
3. There Are Discrepancies in Their Story, So It Can’t Be True
PTSD is a powerful, powerful thing, and it can really screw with your memory. After extremely traumatic events, it’s incredibly common for survivors to misremember things.
Telling a story different ways multiple times is not a good indicator of if their story is true or not. That’s a perfectly natural response to trauma.
4. They Could Have Said ‘No’ or Fought Harder
A lot of survivors report freezing up completely when it happens, like physically not being able to move or fight off their attacker. Think of it like a deer in headlights scenario – your body just locks up and doesn’t know what to do.
And consent isn’t as simple as “You can do whatever you want to someone until they say no.” Consent needs to be given affirmatively and enthusiastically. The absence of a “no” is not a “yes.”
5. Look at What They Were Wearing, They Were Asking for It
There is no way to justify this. Nobody asks to get raped. People wearing skirts and people wearing sweatpants get raped. Your clothing has nothing to do with it.
6. They Just Want Attention
I’ve literally never understood this one, because nothing positive ever comes out of someone publicly accusing their rapist. They’re dragged through a long, painful legal process and usually smeared across the Internet. Nobody gets famous as a rape survivor. Nobody wants that kind of attention.
7. They’re Too Fat or Old or Ugly to Be Raped
There’s no one type of person who gets raped. Children, senior citizens, men, women, non-binary people, People of Color, fat people, skinny people, disabled people – anyone can be raped. Rapists don’t pick victims based on how attractive they think they are, because rape isn’t about sexual pleasure. It’s about power and domination.
And besides, this kind of thinking is based on a very narrow idea of what makes someone attractive. In reality, attractiveness is extremely subjective, and projecting your ideas of attractiveness onto someone to validate if they were raped or not doesn’t make any sense.
8. They Couldn’t Have Been Raped Because They’re a Man
Unfortunately, men do get raped, and there’s a huge stigma around them talking about it because of our twisted ideas about masculinity. An erection doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is sexually aroused or consenting to sex. A lot of other things can cause that. Like I said before, people of any gender can be raped.
9. They Couldn’t Have Been Raped Because They Were in a Relationship with the Person
Partner rape also is a real thing that happens. Just because you consented to sex with someone once or twice or fifty times, doesn’t mean you’ve permanently consented to everything with them in the future.
10. Their Story Can’t Be True Because I Know Their Rapist and They’re a Nice Person
The thing is, we have this myth about rapists that they’re scary people with no friends who hide in bushes and attack people in alleys. But in reality, rapists are often charismatic people with lots of friends. In fact, people are far more likely to be raped by an acquaintance, friend, partner, or family member than a stranger.
So those are the ten lies we’re told about rape survivors, and why they’re not true. Please, believe survivors. We need to work on changing the culture we live in to be one where survivors are respected and believed.
And this video is a part of a series I’m doing for Everyday Feminism, a website dedicated to helping you stand up to and break down everyday oppression. I’ll put a link down below so you can check out my previous videos in the series.
As always, I love you all very much, I hope you have a wonderful day, and I’ll see you next week. Bye!