Facts about sexual violence
People are usually subjected to sexual violence by someone they knowNine out of ten (89.1%) survivors attending Rape Crisis Centres disclosed that the perpetrators were known to them in some way, with 34.6% being family members or relatives and 33.1% being friends, acquaintances, or neighbours. Partners/ex-partners accounted for 10.5% of perpetrators. Rape Crisis Network National Statistics 2009 (See page 7).
Not resisting the sexual violence does not mean that the survivor is responsible in any wayAll rapists use tactics of intimidation and fear. A common reaction is to freeze. Not fighting back or submitting can be a survival response. The rapist is in control of how he acts, the victim is always reacting to the rapist. Survivors often blame themselves. If they have no bruises, cuts or injuries to show, they question whether they were really raped. Society and the justice system also question the survivor's actions. Survivors of sexual violence are in no way responsible for the violence that is perpetrated against them.
A victim of sexual violence is never to blame even if they are drunk or has taken drugsIf a person chooses to have sex with someone without their consent it is a criminal offence. If a person is very drunk they may not be able to consent to sex. If a person is semi-conscious or asleep they cannot consent. Even if we think a woman made some poor decisions, like getting very drunk, this does not make the rapist any less responsible, it doesn’t make him any less wrong. Often victims blame themselves because they took the drugs or alcohol of their own free will. Others may blame the victim too. Many will not report the crime to the police. Society and the justice system also question the survivor’s credibility. See: Rape & Justice in Ireland.
Rapists are men of all ages and from all walks of life
The abuser is usually a friend, acquaintance, neighbour, a member of the victim’s family or a partner. The abuser is often a 'normal' member of the community with family and friends. Very often a rapist does not fit the ‘monster’ or loner stereotype.
Rape is not a well reported crimeOnly 6% - 8% of cases are reported to the police (The SAVI Report*). In the Rape Crisis Network National Statistics 2009, (See page 11) just under 27% of survivors reported the sexual violence to the Gardaí. Fear of not being believed, of hurting loved ones (for example, if the rapist is a family member), or fear of the attacker, can cause a survivor not to report. Also, many victims simply try to forget it ever happened. Low reporting leads to a denial of the scale of the problem in our society and rapists continue to get away with it in huge numbers.
*The SAVI Report, Prof. Hannah Magee et al, Royal College of Surgeons, Liffey Press, 2002
False accusations of rape are not common
Reporting sexual abuse involves complex, possibly invasive and sometimes traumatic procedures. Women who have been subjected to sexual abuse may be treated with suspicion and disbelief by their community. The process of investigation can feel hostile and aggressive. Sometimes family, friends and acquaintances do not believe the victim, especially if they know the rapist. They can suspect that the victim wants revenge or regrets what she or he did. As a result, victims do not report or proceed with prosecutions. This makes it unlikely that a woman would make and stick with a false accusation of rape. This reinforces in others the belief that the victim lied in the first place.
Sexual violence is common in IrelandIrish research has found that one in five adult women and one in ten adult men experience sexual violence. (The SAVI Report). Denying the scale of the problem isolates the victim and empowers the perpetrator.
Men are victims of sexual violence
In 2009, 14.8% of Rape Crisis Centre clients were male. The SAVI Report found that 60% of young men who had experienced child sexual abuse had never told anyone before telling the researcher. (The SAVI Report). Men and boys may find it hard to ask for help and abusers continue to get away with it.