Myths and Realities

MYTH: Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers
FACT: Approximately 80% of rape survivors know their assailant in some fashion prior to the assault.

MYTH: You can spot a rapist by the way he or she looks or acts.
FACT: There’s no surefire way to identify a rapist. Many appear completely normal, friendly, charming, and non-threatening.

MYTH: It can’t happen to me. I won’t be raped or assaulted.
FACT: One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Approximately one in seven men will be victims of sexual assault.

MYTH: Women lie about rape to get revenge or because they feel guilty about having sex.
FACT: According to the FBI, 2-8% of all reported rape charges are found to be false. An individual is more likely to lie about being robbed than being sexually assaulted.

MYTH: Women ask to be raped.
FACT: The way people look, act, or dress does not invite sexual assault. No individual “asks” to be the victim of a violent crime. Nor is any person responsible for the violent criminal behavior of someone else. Sexual assaults are never the fault of the victim.

MYTH: Rapists are lonely, sexually unfulfilled men.
FACT: Rapists do not fit a stereotyped image. Assailants can be anyone from a family member, friend, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, co-worker or another acquaintance. Studies of convicted male rapists indicate that over 60% were married and virtually all had normal sexual relationships with women at the time they committed the assault.

MYTH: Boys and men cannot be sexually assaulted.
FACT: Again, approximately one in seven men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Unfortunately men often do not report sexual assaults because of even greater social stigma. If a male is sexually assaulted it does not mean he is or will become homosexual. Often sexual orientation of both the rapist and victim are not relevant to the assault that occurs.

MYTH: Most rapes occur in streets or parking garages.
FACT: The vast majority of rapes occur in either the victim or the assailant’s home.

MYTH: If people fought or resisted hard enough sexual assaults would not occur.
FACT: Most adult victims, even those who are not physically harmed, fear injury and death during a sexual assault. Children who are assaulted are often confused, unable to question the power and authority of the abuser, and do not know how to get help. Choosing not to fight is not the same as giving consent.

MYTH: It’s not rape if you’ve had sex with the person before.
FACT: Just because you’ve previously consented to sex with someone doesn’t give them perpetual rights to your body. If your spouse, boyfriend, or lover forces sex against your will, it’s rape.