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The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context

On-line version ISSN 1989-4007Print version ISSN 1889-1861


WATERHOUSE, Genevieve F.; REYNOLDS, Ali  and  EGAN, Vincent. Myths and legends: the reality of rape offences reported to a UK police force. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context [online]. 2016, vol.8, n.1, pp.1-10. ISSN 1989-4007.

Rape myths affect many aspects of the investigative and criminal justice systems. One such myth, the 'real rape' myth, states that most rapes involve a stranger using a weapon attacking a woman violently at night in an isolated, outdoor area, and that women sustain serious injuries from these attacks. The present study examined how often actual offences reported to a central UK police force over a two year period matched the 'real rape' myth. Out of 400 cases of rape reported, not a single incident was found with all the characteristics of the 'real rape' myth. The few stranger rapes that occurred had a strong link to night-time economy activities, such as the victim and offender both having visited pubs, bars, and clubs. By contrast, the majority of reported rape offences (280 cases, 70.7%) were committed by people known to the victim (e.g., domestic and acquaintance rapes), occurred inside a residence, with most victims sustaining no physical injuries from the attack. The benefits of these naturalistic findings from the field for educating people about the inaccuracy of rape myths are discussed.

Keywords : Rape; Sexual offending; Rape myths; Police reporting; Stranger rape.

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