Myths & Facts

Sexual harassment is often justified by myths and misinformation.

Myths create a vicious cycle: they are used to excuse harassers and blame the harassed, and excuses and mislaid blame are reinforcing the idea that sexual harassment is acceptable, forgivable, manly, ‘cool’, or the fault of the harassed.

As a result, many people who witness sexual harassment choose not to react or intervene. And with no consequences, harassers are only encouraged to act again and again.

There are several myths about sexual harassment flying around, which shouldn’t be the case. We will debunk some of these myths to make it clearer that it is not a joke and many of these so-called myths are untrue and should not be taken lightly. 

Fact: Rape, sexual assault, or any form of sexual harassment has everything to do with the perpetrator, as this person often happens to be someone with a higher power. It is from the determination to exercise that power over the weaker person, which identifies as an assault, regardless of what the person wears or how the person behaves.

Rape or sexual assault is a power crime and the leading cause are these rapists themselves, as what the victim wears, behaves, or goes to, is not and should never be an invitation for unwanted sexual activity.

Fact: By saying this, we are agreeing that there are people out there ready to sexually assault other people and are only looking for the opportunity to. So, it isn’t actually about the person going about their day or visiting a place but rather about the other person determined to exercise their power and take advantage. Visiting a person in their home or at a bar doesn’t automatically mean consent to any form of sexual activity.

Fact: What usually happens, in this case, is that the person in the vulnerable position is taken advantage of because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This shouldn’t be the case, as no one can consent to any sexual activity under such circumstances. If anyone is found taking advantage of an incapacitated person, they will have to face the law, as it is also identified as sexual assault.

Fact: It is, in fact, a huge deal around the world and should be taken seriously. Sexual harassment has always been a difficult challenge but it wasn’t until recently that more cases were reported, as most people would rather be quiet to avoid being shamed or victimised by the public. We don’t have an exact figure of the number of victims in Nigeria due to the poor reporting but according to a UNICEF report in 2015, one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria have encountered a form of sexual violence before the age of 18. The more we dismiss this as nothing, the deeper it eats into our society and traumatises even more people. 

Fact: According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, only 19.5% of rape are committed by a stranger, and the remaining percentage points to someone close to the victim. It could be the person’s acquaintance, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or a relative. The same report points out that of the sexual abuse cases reported, 93% of juvenile victims knew their perpetrators, of which only 7% were reported to be strangers to the victim. A person is more likely to be sexually abused by someone close to them than they would by a stranger.

Fact: Sexual assault is no respecter of person, place, or time but has more to do with the perpetrator. 

Fact: There are many reasons why a victim would rather not put up a fight with their perpetrator, one of which is the assumption that they could get the attacker upset and worsen the situation. In that case, they would rather lay low and resist the urge to fight back, especially when they are certain that it is not a battle they can win. However, refusing to fight back with the attacker does not equal consent. 

Fact: This won’t always be the case, as how victims tend to react to sexual abuse could differ based on their personality and the gravity of the event. Their response to the situation could be anxiety, depression, anger, apathy, shock, denial, withdrawal, and also hysterical. How they choose to react and respond to this or heal in the long run should not be judged, as there isn’t a specific template for every victim to follow through.

Fact: Sexual abuse is never about gender or physical attraction, as both men, women, and children of different ages, sizes, and levels of attraction become victims. This has to do more with the assertion of power on the most vulnerable, which is why there are more cases of women being sexually assaulted, as most men find them an easy target. However, it doesn’t mean men also do not get sexually abused. 

Fact: Sexual abuse can never be overemphasised in society today, as it cuts across every corner of the world and is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. It can be traumatising for the victims and calling it trivial or harmless is quite insensitive and disturbing for those who have had to deal with it. 

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