Government statistics released in January 2013 estimated that 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year, that over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted annually, and that 1 in 5 women (aged 16 - 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. The same study reported that 28% of women who are victims of the most serious sexual offences never tell anyone about it, and we know from our experience within the Rape Crisis movement that only around 15% of women and girls who experience sexual violence ever report to the police.
One reason women and girls tell us they are reluctant to talk about their experiences is a fear of not being believed, or of being blamed for what has happened to them, as well as feelings of shame or self-blame.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence are understandably topics that many people find difficult or uncomfortable to talk about. Because of this reluctance to discuss or acknowledge them, however, myths and misinformation about sexual violence are common. Myths are also often unfortunately fuelled by ill-informed or unbalanced media reporting of sexual violence stories.
This is why Rape Crisis (England and Wales) and its member Rape Crisis Centres are committed to dispelling myths and raising awareness and understanding of sexual violence, as well as providing services to survivors. Our aim in this is to help to create a wider environment in which women and girls affected by sexual violence feel safe and confident to seek the support and justice they need, want and deserve.