Myths and Realities of Sexual Assault

Myth:
Only certain types of women get raped. It could never happen to me.
Reality:
Any woman can be raped. Females from the very young to the very elderly, women of all ethnicities, of all socioeconomic levels, and all sexual orientations are raped.

Myth:
Men who rape are 'psychos.'
Reality:
Men who rape are mostly ordinary, everyday guys. Only a small percentage of men who rape would be considered clinically insane by standard psychiatric criteria. The vast majority of men who rape are indistinguishable from your friends.

Myth:
Women provoke rape by the way they dress or the way they flirt.
Reality:
Men rape women because they believe they can get away with it. A woman's dress and/or 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. However, this is an excuse, not a reason.

Myth:
Women lie about being raped or use it to get even with their boyfriends.
Reality:
Women do not lie about being raped. Rape is the most underreported crime of all.

Myth:
Women secretly want to be raped.
Reality:
No woman has ever desired to be raped! The belief that women secretly want to be raped is another form of placing blame on women and justifying aggressive masculine behavior. This confuses rape with sex.

Myth:
Men can never be raped.
Reality:
Men can be and are sexually assaulted. Their attackers are almost always other males. The survivor in such sexual assaults is not necessarily, nor usually gay.

Myth:
Rapes are committed by strangers at night in dark alleys.
Reality:
Most rapes are committed by someone the woman knows and at anytime of day or night. Women are raped most commonly in their own homes.

Myth:
Men rape women because they are sexually aroused or have been sexually deprived.
Reality:
The motives for rape are complex and varied but often include hostility against women in general. There is a desire to exert power and control, a desire to humiliate and degrade, and in some cases a desire to inflict pain.

Myth:
Acquaintance rapes are not as serious as stranger rapes.
Reality:
Acquaintance rape is as serious as rape by a stranger. Women who are raped by someone they know experience a similar degree of trauma to those raped by a stranger. Some specific feelings may be different, but not the severity of feeling.