Debunking 17 Popular Myths About Sexual Assault
1. Men rape women because they are overly aroused sexually or have been sexually deprived.
MYTH. Rape is not about sex, it is about power and control. No matter what, sexual contact by force, or without consent, is against the law. No matter what.
2. It is not rape if the victim isn’t a virgin.
MYTH. Every person has the right to decide whether or not they want to have sex EVERY time they do it. A person’s past sex life does not matter and is not a factor in deciding whether or not it was rape. Even if two people have had sex before, if one person forces the other person to have sex, it is rape.
3. Acquaintance rapes are not as serious as stranger rapes.
MYTH. Any type of rape or sexual assault is serious and has serious effects on a person’s life. Despite the common belief that you can only be raped by a stranger, statistics show that over 80% of rape victims know their abuser. Acquaintance rape sometimes can be even more damaging to a victim’s life because of the betrayal of trust.
4. Women provoke rape by the way they dress.
MYTH. Women have a right to wear whatever they want. There is no correlation between what people wear and if they are raped. This is an example of victim blaming.
5. Men cannot be raped.
MYTH. Although it is less common, men can also be victims of sexual assault. In fact, 1 in 10 men will experience rape in their lifetime.
6. Women who do not fight back haven’t been raped.
MYTH. Everyone acts differently when faced with a traumatic situation. Some victims fight. Some freeze. Some are afraid that if they fight back they will be hurt worse, or possibly killed. No matter what, it is still rape.
7. Only gay men are sexually assaulted.
MYTH. There is no correlation between gay men and men that are victims of rape. Rape can happen to anyone.
8. Only gay men sexually assault other men.
MYTH. There is also no correlation between gay men and perpetrators of sexual assault. Straight men also assault other men.
9. Men cannot be sexually assaulted by women.
MYTH. Although this is rare, it does still happen and is just as traumatic for the victim.
10. Erection, ejaculation, or orgasm during a sexual assault means the victims “really wanted it” or consented.
MYTH. Our bodies react to things differently. Many victims experience sexual arousal, however, it does not mean that they secretely wanted to be raped. Even if it might feel good, the lasting and long term effects are just as devastating and can be confusing for victims.
11. Only young, attractive women, or women who engage in risky behavior are raped.
MYTH. Rape can happen to anyone. Every age, size, appearance. Rape is about power and control. It is not about sex.
12. Rapes are committed by strangers at night in dark allys.
MYTH. This is the popular image associated with rape, however, this situation is a very small percentage of the number of rapes that occurs. Rape can happen anywhere. It can happen by anyone, to anyone.
13. Most rapes are committed by black men against white women.
MYTH. This is also completely false. Rape happens to, and by, every race of the human population.
14. Men who rape are psychologically deranged individuals.
MYTH. There are examples of perpetrators who are doctors, lawyers, politicians, professional athletes, celebrities, etc. There is not one type of person who rapes.
15. Women secretly want to be raped.
MYTH. No woman wants to be raped. If a woman says no, she means no. She doesn’t mean yes. Role play is different. If a couple engages in role play, both parties are willing parcipiants. This is different.
16. Victims hide, downplay, or cover up their stories of rape because it didn’t really happen.
MYTH. It is extremely common for victims to keep rape a secret. This happens for many reasons, often due to shame, guilt and fear. Victims may blame themselves. They might not even associate what happened to them as rape for many years. They may try to pretend like it never happened or try to erase it from their lives. One of the most important things a victim can do in order to heal is to tell someone, or many people, about what has happened to them. This takes times and is difficult to do, but breaking the silence eliminates some of the power the rape has on their life.
17. If a victim has been sexually assaulted there will be physical/medical/emotional evidence to support it.
MYTH. Most victims never go to the hospital after being raped, so often times there is no evidence.
*Research courtesy of Porchlight Counseling Center