Rape myths are generally held false beliefs about rape. These beliefs are widely held and serve to shift the blame from the perpetrator to the victim. Given the prevalence of rape myths within society they can reinforce feelings of blame and shame felt by victims and can lead to them thinking that they won’t be believed.
What is victim blaming?
Like rape myths, victim blaming is a way of shifting blame for sexual abuse from the perpetrator to the victim. This includes looking at the victim’s behaviour, clothing, and situation rather than holding the offender responsible. It can make victims feel as though they will be blamed for what happened to them and can exacerbate self blame.
How likely is a rapist to be convicted?
Statistics from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show that the conviction rate for rape is as low as 1.5% of reported cases. This has led to many people saying that rape in the UK has effectively been decriminalised. There is also controversy over police demands to seize victim’s phones and requests to view their medical records.
What are the effects of victim blaming?
People who experience victim blaming are more likely to suffer increased distress and secondary traumatisation. Victim blaming makes it less likely someone will report due to fear of not being believed. Jurors can be influenced by victim blaming myths meaning they are less likely to convict a defendant accused of rape.