Sexual assault myths.

Myths about Sexual Assault

MYTH: Only women are victims of sexual assault or rape, and only men commit these acts

REALITY: Both men and women can be sexually assaulted or raped, and assailants can be male or female with any sexual orientation.

MYTH: Rapes are committed by strangers at night in dark alleys.

REALITY: Most rapes are committed by someone the woman knows and at any time of day or night. Women are raped most commonly in their own homes.

MYTH: Women provoke rape by the way they dress or the way they flirt.

REALITY: Men rape women because they can get away with it. Women’s dress and behavior are not the cause. Rape is an expression of power and control. A man might justify his raping by pointing to the woman’s behavior, but that is an excuse rather than a reason.

MYTH: A rape survivor will be battered, bruised, and hysterical.

REALITYMany rape survivors are not visibly injured. The threat of violence alone is often sufficient to cause a person to submit to the rapist, to protect themselves from physical harm. People react to crisis in different ways. The reaction may range from composure to anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and suicidal feelings.

MYTH: If you wouldn’t have been drinking, you wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted.

REALITY:  Alcohol is a weapon that some perpetrators use to control their victim and render them helpless.  As part of their plan, an assailant may encourage the victim to use alcohol, or identify an individual who is already drunk.  Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of many tools that perpetrators use.

MYTH:  If a man ejaculated when he is assaulted, then it is not really sexual assault (this can also go for anyone who has an orgasm when they are sexually assaulted).

REALITY:  Orgasm does not mean that someone "enjoyed" the sex, or that they wanted it. Orgasm can be a natural biological reaction that someone can’t control; it does not mean that forced or coerced sexual activity was consensual. Often this is used to silence the survivor.

MYTH:  Sexual assault is often the result of miscommunication or a mistake.

REALITY:  Sexual assault is a crime, never simply a mistake.  It does not occur due to a miscommunication between two people. Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact obtained without consent through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation, or coercion.

MYTH:  If someone does not want to have sex it's their responsibility to say no and fight; It's not rape if the victim does not or is unable to scream for help or vigorously fight off their attacker.

REALITY:   Consent is an affirmative agreement to engage in various sexual or nonsexual activities.  Consent is an enthusiastic, clearly communicated and ongoing yes.  The absence of no is not yes.  Nonconsensual sex is rape.  A person who is substantially impaired cannot give consent.


Myths about Relationship Violence

MYTH: Relationship violence only happens to poor women and women of color at the hands of men.

REALITY: Relationship violence happens in all kinds of families and relationships.  Persons of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims or perpetrators of relationship violence.

MYTH: If it were that bad, they would just leave.

REALITY: There are many reasons why someone may not leave.   Not leaving does not mean the situation is okay or that the victim wants to be abused.  Leaving can be dangerous.  The most dangerous time for someone who is being abused is when they try to leave

MYTH: If you are not physically injured it is not abuse.

REALITY: Abuse can come in many forms, such as sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional. When a person in a relationship repeatedly scares, hurts, or puts down the other person, it is abuse. Harassment; intimidation; forced or coerced isolation from friends, family, and an independent social life; humiliation; threats of harm to you, your family, or pets; threatening suicide if you leave; violating your privacy; limiting your independence and personal choices are all examples of abuse.

MYTH: Relationship violence is behavior that is “out of control” and unintentional.

REALITY: Physical abuse is often the most serious aspect of a course of conduct intended to subject the victim to the control of the abuser. Other controlling behaviors may include intimidation, economic control, using children as weapons, destruction of property, and isolation of the victim. The abuser’s behavior is designed to gain control, and is definitely intentional.

MYTH: Men are not victims of relationship violence.

REALITY: Males are victims of relationship violence almost as often as females. Studies have shown that for every 47 women who are abused, there are at least 32 men who are abused. Male victims are not rare, nor are they more “effeminate” than average.

If you're wondering if you are in an abusive relationship, take this quiz.