Misconceptions about Sexual Assault

myths of acquaintance rape

MYTH: The rape is not as bad if you know the rapist.

FACT: Rape is a traumatic and threatening experience regardless of who the rapist is. In fact, the betrayal and manipulation commonly found in acquaintance rapes may lead to more damaging psychological and emotional problems.

MYTH: If you don’t report, it’s not rape.

FACT: The fact is, most victims of acquaintance rape don’t report. There may be no outward signs of abuse, since the rapist is not usually violent. Victims of acquaintance rape may feel responsible and fear that they won’t be believed.  This does not mean that a rape didn't happen.

MYTH: If you don’t resist or fight back, it isn’t rape.

FACT: There are lots of reasons why victims don’t fight back. They may be taken by surprise before they can do anything. They may fear for their lives, or be scared the rapist may hurt them more if they fight back. They may be afraid of hurting the rapist, especially if he is a friend.

MYTH: When someone says NO, they really mean MAYBE.

FACT: No means NO. Everything besides YES is a NO. Always!

MYTH: If he paid for a date, she owes him something in return.

FACT: No one should feel like they owe anything for a date. There is no excuse for forced sex.

MYTH: It’s not rape if a person is too drunk or high to resist sex.

FACT: Sexual contact with someone unable to agree to have sex, for whatever reason, is considered rape.

Information taken from www.promotetruth.org

My Strength is Not for Hurting PosterMYTH: Only certain types of women get raped.

FACT:  It would be convenient if we could believe that only women at big schools in big cities get raped, or if we could spot a potential rapist at 20 yards, and avoid that person.  If only we could be sure that “people we know,” or think we know, wouldn’t hurt us.  The truth of the matter is this: there is very little difference between women who get raped and women who don’t.  It won’t happen to me, is a nice wish, but not a reality.

MYTH:  Women don’t mean what they say about sex.  Often they say no, but don’t really mean it.

FACT:  It may be true that some women have trouble talking openly about sex, and some women are comfortable letting men take the initiative.  But what might be true for some women cannot be assumed for all women.  And from the standpoint of date or acquaintance rape, it is very simple.  What a women says, she means.  If you think she is just acting, ask her.  If you think it is your job to “not listen because she really doesn’t want you to listen,” you are holding onto a rape supportive belief.



MYTH:  If you’re drunk at a party, whatever happens, happens.  Some women are to blame for their rape because they were drunk, or flirting, etc.

FACT:  Let’s be clear that people’s actions, be it drinking, how they dance, how they dress, if they flirted, does not give someone permission to have sex with them.  It is in cases like this that we hear things like “if she didn’t want to have sex, why was she kissing him?” Of course, the answer is, because maybe she wanted to kiss him.  Anytime we hear a story that ends with “what did she expect to happen?” we need to remind ourselves that forced sex is never justified, and that “what she expected” certainly wasn’t rape.  There is no degree of being led on, of being turned on, of being flirted with that makes it OK to force sex on another person.  Thinking that it is means holding on to rape supportive beliefs.

MYTH:  Women will cry rape to save their reputation, or to get back at a man.

FACT:  Does this happen, when a woman will say she was raped out of revenge, or because she doesn’t want people to talk badly about her?  Not very often.  In fact, the FBI, who tracks this information, reports that less than 2% of rape cases involve false claims against the rapist.  The number of false claims is less then almost every other crime.

Someone who presses charges for rape has to go through a humiliating medical exam, long questioning sessions by police and the district attorney to see if there is a case, a session to explain to family members that they were raped.  They may even have people getting mad at them because the situation divides the campus or community.  When you look at all of the pain and agony someone goes through to press charges, it is doubtful someone would do it just to get back at a guy she is mad at.  And, like the FBI reports, less than 2% do.  Believing that most, or even many women “cry rape” is holding on to a rape supportive belief.

MYTH:  No one can be raped by their sexual partner.

FACT:  Some of the hardest rape myths to dispel center on a situation where a woman is raped by someone she is going out with.  This is called date rape.  You hear people wonder how someone can be raped because “she was going out with the guy – I mean they liked each other.” But sex needs to be consented to by both people each and every time.  It does not matter what that person agreed to a week ago.  If someone says “no” to having sex today, forcing sex on that person is rape.  Can you be raped by someone you are dating?  On a college campus, you have a much better chance being raped on a date than in any other circumstance.

MYTH:  No one can be raped if she doesn’t want to be.

FACT:  This myth comes from some people’s beliefs that if a woman tries real hard to struggle physically, it is impossible to force intercourse.  This is a myth for a number of reasons.  First of all, if the rapist is physically stronger than the woman he can use his strength and simple body weight to force sex.  Often what happens is that the woman struggles to a point, and then submits.  Sometimes it is because a woman is afraid for her life, she has been threatened or already hurt.  Sometimes it is because after trying to struggle, a woman stops, hoping to get it over with as soon as possible.  Sometimes women report “shutting down,” as if they couldn’t believe this was happening, so they almost became paralyzed.  Regardless, it is important to note submission is not consent.  We should know the difference between the two.

Some men will say after being involved with a sexual assault that it couldn’t have been rape because the woman wasn’t kicking and screaming, or trying to run away.  It is not the woman’s job to run away.  Besides, many women feel that if saying, “no, stop that” wasn’t paid attention to, why should screams be any different?

Information adapted from “Healing the Harm” by Bacchus and Gamma

  do men ever get raped?

Yes!!!  According to the National Crime Victimization Survey in 1999, 11% of total sexual assault victims are male.

Check out the Facts:

Male Survivors of Sexual Assault
Male Rape

Male Survivors

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