South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence

Myths and facts about sexual predators

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MythsFacts
Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers, in places like schoolyards and playgrounds. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim or the victim's family.   Often the abuse happens in the victim or predators own home.
All sex offenders are male and only girls are victims of sexual abuse  The vast majority of sex offenders are male. However, females also commit sexual crimes. Boys and girls of all ages can be victims of sexual abuse.
Sex offenders commit sexual crimes because they are under the influence of alcohol, mentally ill or are ‘dirty old men’. Offenders are generally from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and the majority are not suffering from any mental illness. While drugs and alcohol are often involved in sexual assaults, it is more common that the victim may be under the influence of alcohol to increase their vulnerability. 
Youths do not commit sex offenses. Adolescents are responsible for a significant number of rape and child molestation cases each year.
Child sexual abuse only occurs in dysfunctional families. Sexual abuse can occur in all family types, cultures and classes.
Victims of child sexual abuse grow up to be adult sex offenders. This is not the case. Multiple factors, not just sexual victimisation as a child, are associated with the development of sexually offending behaviour in youth.
Most child sexual abusers use physical force or threat to gain compliance from their victims. In the majority of cases, abusers gain access to their victims through deception and enticement.
If a child does not tell anyone about the abuse, it is because he/she must have consented to it.   Children often do not tell for a variety of reasons including the offender's threats to hurt or kill someone the victim loves, as well as shame, embarrassment, wanting to protect the offender, fear of being held responsible or being punished, fear of being disbelieved, and fear of losing the offender who may be very important to the child or the child's family.
Reporting sexual abuse can cause more harm to the victim. If abuse is not reported, it is more likely that it will continue happening at the child will be more at risk. It also helps the victim to talk about the abuse. The victim's recovery will be enhanced if she or he feels believed, supported, protected, and receives counselling following the disclosure that s/he was assaulted.
Victims of sexual assault are often partly to blame for the assault because they are seductive.   Victims of sexual abuse are NEVER to blame for the assault, regardless of their behaviour. Victims are often made to feel like willing participants, which further contributes to their shame and guilt.
If a victim does not say "no" it is not sexual assault. Sexual assault victims may not say "no" or not fight back for a variety of reasons including fear and confusion.
Children lie about sexual abuse 

Studies have found that less than 5% of allegations of child sexual abuse brought by children are fictitious. (Jones. & McGraw, 1987; Oates, Jones, Denson et al, 2000)


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