‘Lust’ is often used to explain why a sexual offense perpetrator committed a crime. But research shows that instead, sexual assault is actually about power and control, and is not motivated by sexual gratification. The theory that rape is a result of sexual desires escaping rapists is not new, and in fact, it is not long ago that the world believed that victims of sexual assault enjoy it. In fact, some people still believe so. In an essay “Why men rape,” Sandra Newman, an American author, talks about researchers such as Havelock Ellis, who believed that all male sexuality was violent and predatory, and therefore saw no reason to doubt that rape was a normal manifestation of masculine desire. Another one, Alfred Kinsey, preferred to ignore the issue altogether, dismissing most rapes as false accusations, and doubting they did real harm anyway. “If sexual desire triggered rape, then a really provocative woman might inspire so much lust that even a good man would be overwhelmed. The victim became the real perpetrator: the man was effectively helpless as he punched her, wrestled her to the ground, and forced his penis into her,” she wrote. The author goes on to show how various other studies found that testosterone levels were not higher in rapists, nor did sexual deprivation correlate with rape. “The surveys conducted found that, if anything, rapists had more consensual sexual partners than other men,” she added. Newman also shows that most rapes are the result of a ‘rape culture’ that tells men that, in many situations, raping women is not only normal behaviour, but completely safe. “A man who is capable of rape generally commits the crime only if he believes it will be excused by his peers, and that punishment can be evaded. There seem to be a remarkable number of men who meet these criteria; most of the college-age rapists studied were not only unafraid of punishment, but blissfully unaware that what they did was criminal,” she wrote. Another 1977 study named “Rape: power, anger, and sexuality” showed that power, anger, and sexuality are important in understanding the rapist’s behaviour, but accounts from 133 offenders and 92 victims showed that the offenses could be categorised as power rape (sexuality used primarily to express power), or anger rape (use of sexuality to express anger). “There were no rapes in which sex was the dominant issue; sexuality was always in the service of other, nonsexual needs,” the study showed. Several other reports show that rape culture grows when rape is tolerated and viewed as the inevitable result of male sexuality, which cannot have any real solution. But rape is a crime, punishable with more than 10 years of imprisonment up to life sentence in Rwanda, although some still think rapists are mere people that are deprived, or even oversexed, who lose control in the presence of an unguarded woman (or man). Below is a compilation of the most common myths and misconceptions on sexual violence from different organisations that work closely with sexual violence victims: Myth: When women say no, they really mean yes Fact: Yes means yes! When someone says yes, they are explicitly giving consent. Silence does not mean consent. It is the responsibility of the person initiating or escalating sexual activity to gain consent at each and every level. If you are ever unclear about your partner’s wishes, ask for clarification. If your partner says no or seems unsure, respect that person and their wishes. Myth: Victims provoke sexual assaults when they dress provocatively or act in a promiscuous manner Fact: Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. Forcing someone to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is sexual assault, regardless of the way that person dresses or acts. Myth: If a person goes to someone’s room, house, or goes to a bar, they assume the risk of sexual assault. If something happens later, they can’t claim that they were raped or sexually assaulted because they should have known not to go to those places Fact: This “assumption of risk” wrongfully places the responsibility of the offender’s actions with the victim. Even if a person went voluntarily to someone’s residence or room and consented to engage in some sexual activity, it does not serve as blanket consent for all sexual activity. Myth: If a victim of sexual assault does not fight back, they must have thought the assault was not that bad or they wanted it Fact: Many survivors experience tonic immobility or a “freeze response” during an assault where they physically cannot move or speak. They may even feel that fighting or resisting will make their attacker angry, resulting in more severe injury. Myth: People that have been sexually assaulted will be hysterical and crying Fact: Everyone responds differently to trauma- some may laugh, some may cry, and others will not show any emotions. Myth: Men are not victims of sexual violence Fact: Men and members of the LGBTQ+ community can be, and are sexually assaulted. Myth: Sex workers cannot be raped because they are selling sex Fact: Sex workers have the right to give and withhold consent to any sexual activity, and therefore, can be raped just like anyone else. Myth: There is nothing we can do to prevent sexual violence Fact: There are many ways you can help prevent sexual violence including intervening as a bystander to protect someone who may be at risk.