Sexual assault can affect anyone, regardless of identity. It doesn't matter the gender, the sexuality, sexual history, or anything else of the individual. Sexual assault is the result of one thing: a lack of consent.
For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Union of Brunel Students will be focusing on correcting frequently believed sex-myths, broadcasting how to properly practice consent, and discussing what resources are avilable to you if you ever need any support regarding sexual experiences.
These resources can be found at the end of the page.
What is Consent?
At its bare bones, consent is the noncoerced, freely given agreement between two or more people. This means each and every individual needs to be sober, of age, and not under threat of violence or manipulation to be able to give consent. Just as consent can be given, it can also be taken away at any moment. A yes now isn't an automatic agreement to the future, near or far, or different acts, no matter how similar.
The surest way to gain and give consent is through verbal communication. It's always best to err on the side of caution and not use body language or 'reading between the lines' to find consent. If you think something is going somewhere, getting verbal, clear confirmation is the way to go, both for consent in general and to find out what the other person is consenting to exactly.
While consent is applicable to any situation, sexual or not, we'll focus on the misconceptions and truths of consent regarding sex.
Myth VS Fact
"A lot of victims lie about being raped or give false reports."
Although reports differ in specific numbers, only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported. In fact, evidence points towards most sexual assaults going unreported.
"If the victim didn't fight back, it isn't sexually assault."
Many people experience what's called tonic immobility or a 'freeze response' in incredibly stressful situations. Fight and flight in response to danger is well known nowadays, but there's a third, lesser acknowledged response: freeze. Freezing often happens as the brain's way to minimise potential harm, as running or fighting back can often lead to more violence.
"Men can't be sexually assaulted."
Research has shown that in reality, roughly 10% of rape victims are men, a number which is likely underreported due to stigma and this myth. Consent in sex matters regardless of gender identity, and if there's a lack of it for any reason, this constitutes sexual assault. Just like the identity of the person being assaulted doesn't matter, the identity of the person assaulting them also doesn't matter. Sexual assault can be perpetuated by anyone, regardless of gender or anything else.
"They were drunk — they didn't mean to."
The perpetrator being drunk doesn't lessen the effect it has on the victim, which is the most important aspect. Being drunk is never an excuse. A person can't expect everything they say and do while drunk to be forgotten and the same goes with sexual assault. If someone finds themselves hurting others while drunk, they should seek help and cut down or stop drinking in the meantime.
"Most cases of sexual assault are committed by strangers."
Research shows that a large majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim already knows, from acquaintances to domestic partners.
"Men of certain backgrounds are more likely to commit sexual assault."
Myths that say men, or anyone, from a certain background are more likely to commit sexual assault play off bigotry while also downplaying the the truth: There is no 'typical rapist' and saying there is makes it harder for victims to come forward.
These are only a few of the many, many myths that surround the reality of sexual assault. While we can't list every single one, there's a good way to notice any others when you see them: remember that sexual assault is the result of a lack of consent. If there isn't a clear, freely given 'yes', there's no consent.
FAQ & Resources
"Where can I get help after experiencing sexual assault/harassment?"
Brunel's Student Support and Welfare Team
If there is an emergency, call 01895 255786 to speak to the campus' 24/7 security.
Union of Brunel Students
- Head to brunelstudents.com/adviceservice/ and fill in the enquiry form or email Ruth Sharma who is a trained Sexual Violence Advisor.
- If you feel uncomfortable on a night out on campus, approach any of our bar staff and ask for Angela. They will get you to a safe place and support you.
There many different support groups for survivors of sexual assault, many with different focuses to find what'll help you the most:
Galop are trans-inclusive and are welcoming of anyone from the LGBT+ community (including those who are questioning their identity). If you are a victim of sexual violence, hate crime or domestic abuse, contact them via:
Pandora’s Project provide support and resources for LGBT+ survivors of rape and sexual abuse. Contact them at: