Professional Development Day: Societal Rape Myths & Traumatic Reactions - Birmingham, 23 January 2018

The reporting of sexual offences continues to increase, with more victims speaking out about their experiences. Their recovery is in part predicated on the responses they get – from families, the police and their therapist.  Yet research shows that societal acceptance of rape myths remains high – even with therapists who work exclusively within this arena.

This workshop explores the most common rape myths, looking at how they are formed, how they can impact views on sexual violence and, in particular, how they impact victims.

We will examine the following specific myths:

  • The prevalence of stranger rape
  • Rape is a crime of passion
  • Only gay men rape/get raped
  • A victim is responsible for being raped if they drink too much, takes drugs, or behave or dress provocatively
  • A victim will report rape immediately
  • A victim will scream, or fight back
  • A victim will get injuries.

We will also look at rape trauma, seeing how the brain responds to perceived threat and the survival techniques victims tend to use.

Participants will be encouraged to explore their own beliefs about sexual offending and how these may impact the therapist client relationship. We will also consider how these myths play out in the media and the court room as well as in the therapy room.

About the presenter:

Sally French is a sexual offences lawyer expert who has worked with the Crown Prosecution Service for over 25 years.  She has helped develop national policies around sexual offences and regularly trains lawyers and police officers to explain how rape myths negatively impact investigative attitudes and prosecutorial decisions.

Sally has a Masters in Person Centred Counselling & Psychotherapy and is a UKCP accredited therapist. She regularly delivers training to therapists on societal myths, the legal system and the importance of understanding how to work within the pre-trial therapy protocol.