Dispel the myths of sexual assault

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Shirley
  • Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
When you hear the words sexual assault or rape, one usually thinks of a man in a ski mask lurking in the bushes or jumping out of a dark alley as a woman passes by. Some say women ask to be raped because of their actions or the clothing they wear. There are some people who believe sexual assault is impossible without some cooperation.

These are stereotypes and myths and although these events still happen, they are rare occasions.

According to the Victims against Sexual Assault Volunteer Manual, here are a few more myths to dispel: 

Myth: Rapists are usually the people you don't know. 

Date rape or acquaintance rape happens more frequently and is now on the rise.

Sexual assaults and rapes happen because of the way a person dresses, or they were asking for it with perceived body language.

Fact: No one asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted. It is a crime and the perpetrator is to blame, not the victim.

Myth: When a woman says "no," she really means "yes."

Fact: "No" means no. "No" means no today and "no" means no tomorrow. Without consent, it is sexual assault.

Myth: Men rape out of impulse and to satisfy a biological need.

Fact: Rape is a criminal act of violence using sex as a weapon, not passion and love. Studies have shown that 50 percent of rapes are planned, not impulsive.

Myth: Rapes are usually reported.

Fact: Rape is probably one of the most underreported crimes. Researchers estimate 50 to 90 percent of rapes go unreported.

Myth: Men can't be raped.

Fact: Both heterosexual and homosexual men can be raped, usually by another male. One in six boys is sexually assaulted before they turn 18.

Myth: Husbands cannot rape their spouses.

Fact: Rape occurs whenever sexual contact is not mutual, when choices are taken away and when a woman's "no" is ignored.

Myth: Rape is usually a one-on-one encounter.

Fact: Only 57 percent of rapes involve one assailant. Research has found 16 percent involve two or more rapists and the numbers increase to 27 percent involve three or more rapists.

Myth: Since women have rape fantasies, they often derive sexual pleasure from being raped.

Fact: Some women may have sexual fantasies but in circumstances where they are in control of the situation or with a person they know. These fantasies have little to do with what rape is really like or the pain associated with rape.

Myth: Most rapists are "insane."

Fact: Although studies have shown that rapists generally have poor self-images and a tendency toward violence, they are generally average in other aspects of their life.

Myth: Men who rape other men are homosexual.

Fact: The vast majority of males who rape males are heterosexual. The motivations for same-sex assault can be power and anger. Fear, hatred and misunderstanding of homosexuality may lead some men to attack gay men.

The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is available to provide training in your organizations. 

For more information, call 277-7272 or (661)209-0115.