Myth: People lie about sexual assault

One of the most damaging ideas about sexual assault is that survivors lie about it.

News stories and pop culture often suggest that sexual assaults are false accusations. Often media will imply that the survivor is not credible. Unfortunately, these misconceptions are also common within our social circles, workplaces, schools, and families.

People who report being sexually assaulted are often viewed as looking for attention. The media also insinuates that people who report sexual assault are doing so to gain some sort of benefit (e.g. money, fame, revenge) or to harm their perpetrator’s reputation.

This is rarely true.

Sexual assault is an extremely underreported crime. This is largely due to these false social beliefs we just mentioned.

Many people are concerned that they will not be believed if they come forward with their story, that they will be judged, or that their lives will become more complicated or unsafe if their perpetrator finds out that they reported.

The vast majority of sexual assault reports are true.

We are doing society a great disservice when we do not believe survivors. Not only is it emotionally damaging to the survivor, but it sets a social tone that is not receptive to other’s experiences. This is one of the things that allows sexual assault to continue.

When we assume people lie about sexual assault, we are protecting perpetrators.

It is so important for all of us to support the people who do choose to disclose such a highly personal and difficult experience in their lives.