How prevalent is sexual violence?
A study done by the NUS shows that 1 in 4 female undergraduates have experienced sexual violence. This translates into at least 1,400 Durham undergraduates being survivors of sexual violence. Nationally, 1 in 5 women over the age 16 and 3 in 20 men of all ages have experienced some form of sexual violence.
Statistically, you know someone who’s survived sexual violence. But it’s important to also keep in mind that behind these statistics are people, and every survivor has their own story and their own numbers.
(For a more in depth look at the UK statistics for sexual violence, go here.)
Who are the survivors of sexual violence?
Anyone can be a survivor of sexual assault. People of all genders, sexual orientations, races, cultures, religions. Undergraduates, postgraduates, university staff. Anyone.
What are some common myths about sexual violence?
Sexual violence is a strange man raping a woman in a dark alley with a knife.
- In most cases, the survivor and the perpetrator know each other and the incident takes place in what would be considered a safe place, like someone’s home.
- Survivors are not necessarily women and perpetrators are not necessarily men.
- Any form of nonconsensual sexual contact, including but not limited to rape, is sexual violence.
- Force or a weapon are not required for sexual violence to occur. All that is required is a lack of consent.
The survivor was “asking for it” because of the way they were dressed, how much they had been drinking, or the way they had been acting.
- Sexual violence is never the fault of the survivor, and there are never any excuses for the perpetrator’s actions.
Sexual violence is no big deal, it’s something people can easily get over.
- Sexual violence is a form of violence, and it’s traumatic. Every survivor will react at a different pace and in a different way, and that’s okay. Their experience is their own, so their reactions will be their own.
- We’ve got some information on supporting a friend is a survivor over here.
But what about false reports? How do we know we can believe the stories on your page?
The stories can be really difficult to read, but they absolutely can be believed.
The most recent and most exhaustive UK study of rape reports found that only 3% of rape allegations are false, a rate which is equal to that for most crimes. In fact, for some crimes, such as car theft, the rate is much higher. And none of the research conducted has found a false allegation actually reaching court.
What can I do?
You can also listen. Listen to survivors. Believe them. Support them.
And listen to the people around you. If you hear them dismissing sexual violence or survivors, call them on it, and explain why comments like that hurt. If you’re at a party and see a friend looking uncomfortable, go talk to them and make sure they’re okay. It’s only by coming together that we can make Durham safe for all people.
If you’ve experienced sexual violence and need someone to talk to, check out our support page. To share your story, go here.