MYTH: Sexual assault is provoked by the victim. Victims ask for it by their actions, behaviors, or by their dress.
FACT: Studies indicate that the majority of sexual assaults are at least partially planned in advance. Sexual assault is not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion. It is a violent attack on an individual using sex as a weapon to defile, degrade, and destroy a victim’s will and control over her or his body. For the victim, it is a humiliating, traumatizing situation.
MYTH: Only certain kinds of women get sexually assaulted. Only “bad girls” get sexually assaulted.
FACT: Rapists choose their victims without regard to physical appearance. Victims are of every type, age, race, moral persuasion, and socioeconomic class. Ages of reported victims range from 6 months to 93 years old.
MYTH: “Roofies” like GHB and Rohypnol are the most common date rape drugs.
FACT: Alcohol is the number one date rape drug used to gain control and power over the victim.
MYTH: Husbands cannot rape their wives.
FACT: Anyone has a right to say no to their partner. Sex is never “owed” to someone, despite their relationship.
MYTH: Most sexual abuse of boys is perpetrated by gay men.
FACT: Sexual offenders come from all educational, occupational and cultural backgrounds. They are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who sexually assault victims to assert power and control over them.
MYTH: Sexual assault is a minor crime affecting only a few women. Its significance is exaggerated.
FACT: Current reports indicate that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. The FBI estimates that only 10% of all sexual assaults are reported. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 125,910 sexual assaults were reported in 2009.
MYTH: Sexual assault occurs only among strangers.
FACT: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. An overwhelming number of victims had encountered or been acquainted with the perpetrator in some way; according to pcar.org, 70% of all rape and sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. In many of the cases, the perpetrator was a close personal friend, a member of the family, or a friend of the family. When considering this figure, it’s important to remember that these studies deal with reported cases of forcible sexual assault and that a survivor is more apt to report being sexually assaulted by a stranger than to press charges against a “friend” or relative.
MYTH: Women frequently cry “rape” (i.e., there is a high rate of false reporting).
FACT: FBI findings indicate that only 2% of rape calls are false reports. While some victims later recant, it’s important to remember that there are lots of reasons why victims of sexual assault never even report the crime or may be influenced to rescind initial accounts.
MYTH: Rape and sexual assault only occurs in large cities.
FACT: Sexual assault happens everywhere–in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Unfortunately, small communities are less likely to have the range of services available than in urban settings.
MYTH: It’s not rape unless the victim is threatened with a gun or a knife.
FACT: Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted, forced, or coerced sexual activity without the consent of or against the will of another person. This definition includes acts which may occur while the victim is subjected to threats (to career, reputation, family, etc.), under the influence of drugs, or otherwise unable to give consent.
MYTH: Anyone could prevent a rape by fighting back if they really wanted to.
FACT: There are many reasons why a victim may not physically fight their attacker including shock, fear, threats or the size and strength of their attacker. Only the perpetrator can prevent a rape.
MYTH: The person who has been sexually assaulted is the only one affected by it.
FACT: Sexual assault not only affects the survivor, but also the survivor’s social support network. Friends and relatives of the survivor may also experience feelings of helplessness, guilt, shame, anger, loss of intimacy, and frustration. Secondary survivors are encouraged to seek help if needed.