A NEW hard-hitting poster campaign has been launched to raise awareness about rape and challenge myths — it doesn't matter what a victim is wearing or how much they have had to drink, sex without consent is rape.
The images reflect the fact most rapes and sexual assaults are committed within relationships by perpetrators aged between 16 and 25.
One myth the campaign seeks to challenge is that rapes are committed by strangers in dark alleys, when the reality is most victims are raped by someone they know, including spouses and partners.
Fleur Gardiner, Isle of Wight Council domestic abuse coordinator, said: "No matter how someone dresses, how much they have drunk, or what their relationship is to the perpetrator, sex without consent is rape and rape is never the victim’s fault.
"Rape is an emotive topic and one many people will have an opinion on but there is still a lot of misunderstanding around rape and the nature of consent within our society. This is why it is so important to raise awareness of these issues through this campaign.’’
Last year, 146 rapes and sexual offences, including historic offences, were reported to Isle of Wight police. In reality, it is likely many more crimes were committed but were not reported because victims were afraid they would be blamed, a council spokeswoman said.
It is hoped the campaign will give victims more confidence seek help and report rape.
Isle of Wight Council executive member for public protection Cllr Phil Jordan said: "There are no 'grey areas' when it comes to rape — for example, if you think someone might be too drunk to consent to sex, don’t have sex. If you do, and consent was not given, it is rape.
"These posters have been carefully designed to target key audiences and get people talking about a subject often swept under the carpet."
Help and support for men and women is available from the following organisations:
Isle of Wight Independent Sexual Violence Adviser: 07930 932249
Treetops Sexual Assault Referral Centre: 023 9221 0352
Southampton Rape Crisis: 023 8063 6313
Hampshire Constabulary: 0845 045 45 45 or 101, or 999 in an emergency
Island Women’s Refuge and Outreach Services: (01983) 825981