Scales for Evaluating the Acceptance of the Rape Myth: Benefits and Limitations

Society’s views regarding rape and sexual aggression have significantly evolved in recent years. Rape is now a felony, and the context of marital rape is an aggravating circumstance. Nonetheless, common representations could tend to minimize the perpetrator’s responsibility and to excuse their actions. This shows acceptance of a set of attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes that we call the Rape Myth. Acceptance of these representations or of the Rape Myth is widespread, including among those who work in the legal and healthcare fields and among jurors, and may lead to a reduced penal response [1,2]. It also exists among rape victims and may prevent them from reporting the events or being able to reconstruct them precisely [3]. The existence of strong correlations between acceptance of the Myth and a propensity for rape and other coercive sexual behaviour [4-7] underscores the importance of this factor. In this way, the acceptance of the Rape Myth could lead to cognitive distortions that rationalize, minimize or justify the behaviours of sexual offenders [8,9]. Cognitive distortions also serve to protect sexual abusers’ image so that they do not feel guilty, blame themselves or consider themselves to be monsters.

Read more