MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT

 

Many myths exist about assault and why it occurs. Knowing the facts about rape and sexual assault helps the people involved. As a survivor, accurate information facilitates your recovery by helping you clarify the meaning of the assault. If you are a friend, family member, or other support person, objective information allows you to be helpful and caring.

Definitions

Rape: Sexual intercourse (penetration) achieved as a result of force or threat or force and without the person's consent.

Sexual Assault: Forced sexual contact without the person’s consent.



Myth


Survivors are in some way to blame for the rape or assault.

Rape and sexual assault are an expression of intense sexual desire. It is an act of hostility and aggression with sex as the weapon. It is not an act of sex or love. Assault is an act of violence.

Rape or sexual assault couldn’t happen to me.

Men are never raped or sexually assaulted.

 


Fact


The assailant is always responsible for having committed sexual assault. Regardless of appearance, behavior, judgment, or previous actions, the survivor is not responsible for the sexual assault.

Sexual assault is motivated by the desire to, dominate, overpower, humiliate, or to degrade another person.

One study has shown that one in six college women will experience rape or attempted rape, and one in four will the target of some sort of sexual assault. Approximately 10% of those assaulted are males.

Men, as well as women, are the targets of sexual assault and rape. Males seek help less frequently because of embarrassment or fear of not being taken serious.

 


Myth


Rape usually occurs among strangers.

It’s not really rape or sexual assault if the assailant is someone the survivor knows (friend, date, spouse, or classmate).

There are no serious emotional or psychological consequences of forced sexual contact.

Men cannot control themselves once sexually aroused.

A woman could prevent rape or sexual assault if she really wanted.

Women lie about being raped or sexually assaulted.

It’s not really rape or sexual assault if the survivor was drunk or drugged. Actually, the individual was “asking for it.”

 


Fact


In 80 to 90% of all rape cases, the survivor and assailant knew each other to some degree. College women are in far greater danger of being raped by a friend or fellow student than by a stranger.

Any penetration or sexual contact against a person’s will or without consent is rape or sexual assault, respectively, regardless of previous acquaintance with the assailant.

Rape and sexual assault are very traumatic violations. The resulting intense emotional and physical reactions frequently interfere significantly with day-to-day functioning and often result in prolonged difficulties with trusting. Assault by an acquaintance may more seriously impair one’s ability to trust others, as well as cause the survivor to question her or his own judgment of people.

Men are capable of controlling both their minds and bodies, and are responsible for doing so.

The primary reaction of almost all women to rape and sexual assault is fear for their lives. Although weapons are used on occasion, the majority of acquaintance assaults involve threats of physical or emotional harm to induce fear and immobility.

It’s much more common for women to deny rape, than to cry rape. At most, only 10% of rapes are reported (of these only 2 % are found to be false). This false reporting rate is no higher than for any other felony.

Having sex with someone who is unable to give consent (whatever the reason for incapacitation) is rape or sexual assault, according to Missouri State Statutes. Being intoxicated or high in no way implies that someone “wants” or “is asking for” sex.