Stop blaming the victim: a meta-analysis on rape myths

J Interpers Violence. 2010 Nov;25(11):2010-35. doi: 10.1177/0886260509354503. Epub 2010 Jan 11.


Although male rape is being reported more often than before, the majority of rape victims continue to be women. Rape myths-false beliefs used mainly to shift the blame of rape from perpetrators to victims-are also prevalent in today's society and in many ways contribute toward the pervasiveness of rape. Despite this, there has been limited consideration as to how rape prevention programs and policies can address this phenomenon, and there is no updated information on the demographic, attitudinal, or behavioral factors currently associated with rape myths. This research aimed to address this gap by examining the correlates of rape-myths acceptance (RMA) in published studies. A total of 37 studies were reviewed, and their results were combined using meta-analytic techniques. Overall, the findings indicated that men displayed a significantly higher endorsement of RMA than women. RMA was also strongly associated with hostile attitudes and behaviors toward women, thus supporting feminist premise that sexism perpetuates RMA. RMA was also found to be correlated with other "isms," such as racism, heterosexism, classism, and ageism. These findings suggest that rape prevention programs and policies must be broadened to incorporate strategies that also address other oppressive beliefs concurrent with RMA. Indeed, a renewed awareness of how RMA shapes societal perceptions of rape victims, including perceptions of service providers, could also reduce victims' re-victimization and enhance their coping mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice*
  • Rape*
  • Social Perception*
  • Stereotyping