MYTH: Sexual assault is a crime of uncontrollable sexual passion or urge.
FACT: Sexual assault is an act of control and aggression. It is less motivated by the desire for sex and more motivated by the need to exert power and control over another human being.
MYTH: "Rapists" can be easily identified by their appearance and behavior.
FACT: The stereotypical image of the rapist is that they are male and he is "abnormal" and easy to identify. In media, "rapists" are often of portrayed as deranged criminals. People who commit sexual assaults are people you know. It's hard to believe that the friends that you know and the people you trust could be capable of hurting someone in that way. Most survivors of sexual assault know the person who assaulted them.
MYTH: Women are most often sexually assaulted by strangers.
FACT: Usually, women are sexually assaulted by someone they know -someone who has already been identified as safe and non-threatening. In college, acquaintance rape accounts for approximately 90% of completed and attempted sexual assaults. Community surveys reveal that approximately 80% of rape is acquaintance rape.
MYTH: Most sexual assaults occur in isolated places.
FACT: Sexual assaults happen anywhere and anytime. Sixty percent of assaults occur in the home of either the victim or the assailant. Sexual assaults also occur in public institutions, the workplace, and vehicles, as well as places traditionally identified as dangerous- parks, alleys, dark streets, and underground garages.
MYTH: Most sexual assaults are isolated incidents.
FACT: Most campus sexual assaults are committed by the same people. A study published in 2002 where college men were interviewed about their sexual histories found that only 6% of men had attempted or successfully committed sexual assault. Some only tried once but many of them admitted to completing an average of 5.8 assaults each.
MYTH: Someone who has been sexually assaulted will be battered, bruised, and hysterical.
FACT: Many survivors are not visibly injured. The threat of violence alone is often sufficient to cause an individual to submit to the rapist, to protect themselves from physical harm. There are many ways to control someone. People react to crisis and trauma in different ways and at different times. The reaction may range from composure to anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and suicidal feelings.
MYTH: Fighting back or saying "no" may lead to more violence.
FACT: First of all, whether someone fights back or not does not make any determination into whether someone was assaulted or not. Lack of resistance or absence of a "no" does not equal consent. Recent studies of rape avoidance behavior have shown that the more options someone knows, the more psychologically ready they are to resist. Both verbal and physical resistance may actually lessen the severity of injury in some instances. The most important thing to remember is that no one can tell another person what is right or wrong in a dangerous situation. Only they know their own abilities, can assess the assailant's behavior, and can determine what the possibilities are. Knowing some options may prevent feeling paralyzed by fear and may also help the survivor understand that submission is also a viable form of self-protection.
MYTH: People lie about sexual assault as an act of revenge or guilt.
FACT: Many studies have been conducted about false reports pertaining to sexual assaults. They all find that only between 2% and 8% of reports of sexual assault are false. FBI statistics support this as well. False claims of auto theft and many other crimes are reported more frequently than those of rape.
MYTH: Men can't be sexually assaulted.
FACT: Men are sexually assaulted. Between one in six and one in ten males are sexually assaulted. We know that male sexual assault survivors underreport. A majority of male survivors were assaulted when they were children or teenagers, yet adult men can be assaulted as well. Any man can be sexually assaulted regardless of size, strength, sexual orientation, or appearance.
MYTH: Only gay men are sexually assaulted.
FACT: All men equally likely to be sexually assaulted. Being sexually assaulted has nothing to do with your current or future sexual orientation. Your sexuality has no more to do with being sexually assaulted than being robbed.
MYTH: Only gay men sexually assault other men.
FACT: Most men who sexually assault other men identify themselves as heterosexual. This fact helps to highlight another reality-that sexual assault is about violence, anger, and control over another person, not lust or sexual attraction.
MYTH: Men cannot be sexually assaulted by women.
FACT: Although the majority of perpetrators are male, men can also be sexually assaulted by women.
MYTH: Physical sexual response during a sexual assault means you "really wanted it" or consented to it.
FACT: Erections, orgasms, and ejaculation are physiological responses that may result from mere physical contact or even extreme stress. These responses do not imply that the person wanted or enjoyed the assault and do not indicate anything about your sexual orientation. Some rapists are aware how erection and ejaculation can confuse a victim/survivor of sexual assault; this motivates them to manipulate their victims to the point of erection or ejaculation to increase their feelings of control and discourage reporting the crime.