Myths about sexual assault — “rape myths”

This page contains an evolving collection of prominent myths about sexual assault. Challenging myths about rape and sexual assault is one way to disrupt rape culture. Please feel free to use the comments to add additional myths and facts about rape that you know of if they are not yet included in this collection.

Myths about sexual assault:

MYTH:Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers. FACT: Seven in 10 sexual assaults are by someone the victim knows.

MYTH: Physical evidence never lies or misleads. FACT: Physical evidence may link a person to another but contact may have happened some time ago, and it does not explain the nature of the contact.

MYTH: Because a case was unfounded, it means the incident didn’t happen. FACT: A sexual-assault report can be determined to be false only when the evidence establishes no crime was committed. Only 2 percent to 4 percent of rape reports are false.

MYTH: What’s said by attorneys in court must be true. FACT: Defense attorneys can raise the possibility of an alternate scenario that has no basis in fact.

MYTH: Men always get sexual gratification from raping. FACT: Men committing sexual assaults may not get erections or ejaculate.

MYTH: A woman who was drunk or dressed provocatively was “asking for it, or reports of so-called “marital rape” or “date rape” are less credible or serious. FACT: Rape is rape. It is always illegal.

MYTH: If details of a story are changed, or someone waits to report a rape, it means the person lied about having been raped. FACT: Very few sexual-assault victims report the incident immediately, and details usually do get changed in the repeated telling.

Some additional facts:

- Women sexually abused as children are three times as likely to be raped as adults.

- Women who were raped before are seven times more likely to be raped again.

- Sixty-seven percent of reported sexual assaults collected by the government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics were to children, and 34 percent to children under 12.

- A woman who was raped has a more likely than not chance of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

- People who have been sexually assaulted, including as children, are more likely to develop eating disorders.

- For women, the likelihood of being raped on a college campus is one in four.

- An estimated 70 percent of sexual assaults are not reported.

SOURCES: Joanne Archambault, End Violence Against Women International; Susan Lewis, National Sexual Violence Resource Center; Monika Johnson Hostler, North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Wendy Murphy, New England School of Law.

~~~

 

Via – I’ll Rise: Survival Blog

Myths and Facts

Myth: Sexual assault is a rare occurrence
Fact: Although statistics vary for a number of reasons, according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) 1 in 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape and 1 in 10 men has been the victim of sexual assault. Even more, every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted and a rape is reported about once every five minutes. This is not a rare occurrence.

Myth: Women cry rape because they had sex and changed their minds, want to get back at a man or want attention.
Fact: Rape is not a regret, it is a crime! In actuality, according to the FBI, less than 2% of rapes are falsely reported. There is simply no benefit to reporting a rape (survivors are met with disbelief and accusations and cases are rarely prosecuted successfully). Furthermore, the attention gained by being raped is not something a person would want. Rape is a very difficult, traumatic experience to overcome with emotional scares that last for years.

Myth: If the victim has consumed alcohol or drugs then it is not a sexual assault
Fact: Whether the victim consumed alcohol or drugs prior to the offense is irrelevant. The assault is the responsibility of the offender—who CHOSE to commit a crime. Someone incapacitated by drugs or alcohol is not fully able to give consent.

Myth: Women who wear short skirts or tight tops are looking for sex.
Fact: How a woman dresses is not an invitation for sex.

Myth: It is impossible to sexually assault someone against their will. If they did not want to be sexually assaulted they could have fought or run away.
Fact: Any sexual act forced upon another person is considered rape. It does not matter if the person fought back or not. Submitting without a struggle does not mean the victim consented to the sexual assault. The victim is the best judge of whether or not it is safe to resist. The victim is NEVER to blame for the assault.

Myth: Husbands don’t rape theirs wives.
Fact: Being married does not mean a partner can obligate and force sex upon their mate. Rape can happen anywhere, by anyone.

Myth: Men sexually assault women because they cannot control their sexual urges (it’s about sex).
Fact: Sexual assaults are violent crimes committed by men who want to dominate and degrade women. Sexual assault is about power!

Myth: Women secretly want to be sexually assaulted
Fact: Women do NOT want to be assaulted. Sexual assault is a traumatic, painful, and fearful experience

Myth: “Nice” girls are less likely to be sexually assaulted.
Fact: Women of all ages, cultural backgrounds, social classes, and of all sexual lifestyles are equally likely to become victims of sexual assault.

Myth: Women who are sexually assaulted “asked for it” by the way they dress or act.
Fact: The notion that women “ask for it” is a classic way to displace the blame from the offender to the victim. If a woman is sexually assaulted, it is NOT their fault. A woman NEVER “asks” or deserves to be sexually assaulted regardless of how they dress or act.

Myth: Rape is the victim’s fault: “If she didn’t want to do it, why did she go to his place? She knew what kind of guy he was!” “You know how she gets when she’s drunk. ” “Oh, she sleeps around.”
Fact: Statements such as these put the blame on the victim and not on the offender. Rape is never the victim’s fault. Even if she did something that puts her in a vulnerable position, she did not ask to be sexually assaulted.

Myth: It’s not as traumatic to be raped by someone you know.
Fact: Just because the victim knows the rapist doesn’t make it any less a crime or any easier to deal with. Often the emotional impact of acquaintance rape seems greater than that of stranger rape. Also, the victim may have a strong feeling that no one will believe her. Her trust in others and in her own judgment is violated.

Myth: Unless a weapon is used, it wasn’t rape.
Fact: It is considered rape anytime someone uses force with intercourse or other sexual acts against a person’s will. The force may include weapons or intimidation, drugs, alcohol or any other tool to diminish the person’s judgment.

Myth: Women are sexually assaulted by strangers while they are alone in dark alleys or deserted places.
Fact: 80% of sexual assaults occur in the home and 49% occur in broad daylight. Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and trusts, for example a family member, friend or casual acquaintance.

Myth: Men cannot be sexually assaulted.
Fact: Men CAN be sexually assaulted regardless of age, size, strength, appearance or sexual orientation.

Myth: Only homosexual men are sexually assaulted.
Fact: Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or transgender men are equally likely to become sexually assaulted. Being sexually assaulted does not have anything to do with your sexual orientation.

Myth: Only homosexuals sexually assault other men.
Fact: Most men who sexually assault other men are heterosexual. Sexual assault deals with violence, anger and control over another individual and not lust or sexual attraction.

Myth: Erection, ejaculation or orgasm during sexual assault means “you really wanted it” or “enjoyed it” or consented to it.
Fact: Erections, ejaculations and orgasms are physiological responses that may result from mere physical contact or even extreme stress. These responses do not imply that you wanted or enjoyed the assault and do not indicate anything about your sexual orientation.

Myth: Men are always in control of their sexual experiences.
Fact: This is not true, either for young boys or for adult males. Men can be victims of rape/sexual assault.

Myth: Men do NOT experience the same degree of emotional pain associated with sexual assault like women do. If a man experiences emotional pain, he should be able to deal with it.
Fact: Factors such as alcohol, drug abuse, family violence, sexual offending, suicide, and social dysfunction may be a result of sexual abuse of males when not acknowledged or treated.

Sources:
Fraser Health, 2002, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program
The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, 2005

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