Myths & Truths
Only women are victims of sexual assault.
A victim of sexual assault can be of any age, race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. According to RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), one in ten victims of sexual assault is male, and three percent of American men are victims of rape or attempted rape. According to the NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, sexual violence occurs in more than one-quarter of same-sex relationships.
Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers.
While strangers can commit sexual assault, 90% of sexual assaults among college students occur between people who know each other.
Sexual assaults usually happen in deserted areas like garages, stairwells, or wooded areas.
While sexual assault can happen in deserted areas, more than 90% of completed rapes that occur on campus take place in a residence, and about 60% occur in the victim’s residence.
Sexual assault occurs because men are unable to control their sexual urges.
Sexual assault is not about sexual desire. It is about power and control. By forcing sexual acts on another person, even after that person has said no, removes the victim’s autonomy and ability to make a sexual choice – it is no longer sex.
If a person is raped while s/he is drunk, s/he is at least somewhat responsible.
Saying that someone who chooses to drink alcohol is responsible for being raped is implying that s/he does not have the freedom to make personal choices. It is always the offender's fault if s/he chooses to sexually assault someone else. The choices a victim made prior to the assault should not be a justification for sexual assault. Nobody chooses or is responsible for being a victim of sexual assault.
Victims of sexual assault are physically brutalized or forced to submit by use of a weapon.
Many people believe that the only way a victim's claim of sexual assault is valid is if he/she sustains serious physical injury or was forced to submit by the presence of a weapon. However, since most assaults involve an offender known to the victim, there is already a level of trust and intimacy, which is exploited. The offender often capitalizes on this level of relationship by desensitizing a victim so that force or weapons are not necessary. This may be achieved through the use of drugs or alcohol on a victim, thereby rendering them incapable of resistance.
Victims of sexual assault "asked for it" by their choices or actions prior to the assault.
By placing the blame for the assault on a victim, people can distance themselves from the issue of sexual assault by believing it could never happen to them. "It could never happen to me because I don't drink alcohol" or "I would never have done that/worn that..." It is important to remember that an offender chooses to commit sexual assault against the victim's will and without consent. By blaming the victim we are condoning the actions of the offender. Nobody asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted.
Victims of sexual assault lie about being sexually assaulted to get attention, revenge, or because they don't want to seem promiscuous.
Rape is considered the most underreported violent crime. The extremely small percentage of survivors who do come forward and report are often faced with circumstances such as disbelief, intrusive medical examinations, and drawn-out court processes. Sexual assault is an extremely difficult crime to prosecute because it depends upon establishing whether or not consent was given or force was used. Many times, there is not enough evidence to proceed with prosecution of the offender and the charges are considered "unfounded." This does not mean that a person lied about being sexually assaulted.
People who commit same-sex sexual assault must be homosexual.
Sexual assault is about power and control and happens regardless of sexual orientation. Forcing sexual acts is one tactic an offender can use to dominate, humiliate, and exert power over another person regardless of that person's gender. It can occur in same-sex and heterosexual relationships and victims of sexual assault can be any gender. In one study, 98% of men who raped boys reported that they were heterosexual.
Each victim will react the same to being sexually assaulted.
Many people expect victims of sexual assault to be hysterical and do not believe them unless they "act like a victim." It is important to remember that survivors of sexual assault elicit a range of emotional, physical, and mental reactions to the trauma of being sexually assaulted, including not having any reaction at all. Each victim will respond differently.