Resource Wednesday: Myths vs Facts

There are many myths that are common regarding sexual violence, assault, and harassment. Sadly, these myths may severely impact the survivors of sexual assault, harassment, or abuse and also affects the behavior of the friends and family of survivors. Please be on the lookout for these common myths.

Myth: Sexual assault is an act of lust and passion that can’t be controlled.
Fact: Sexual assault is about power and control and is not motivated by sexual gratification. [1]

Myth: If a victim of sexual assault does not fight back, they must have thought the assault was not that bad or they wanted it.
Fact: Many survivors experience tonic immobility or a “freeze response” during an assault where they physically cannot move or speak. [2]

Myth: A lot of victims lie about being raped or give false reports.
Fact: Only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported, the same percentage as for other felonies. [3]

Myth: A person cannot sexually assault their partner or spouse.
Fact: Nearly 1 in 10 women have experienced rape by an intimate partner in their lifetime. [4]

Myth: Rape does not happen that often.
Fact: There is an average of 293,066 victims ages 12 or older of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S. This means 1 sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds. [5]

Myth: People that have been sexually assaulted will be hysterical and crying.
Fact: Everyone responds differently to trauma- some may laugh, some may cry, and others will not show any emotions. [6]

Myth: Men are not victims of sexual violence.
Fact: 1.5% of all men have been raped and 47% of bisexual men have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in their lifetime. [7]

Myth: Wearing revealing clothing, behaving provocatively, or drinking a lot means the victim was “asking for it”.
Fact: The perpetrator selects the victim- the victim’s behavior or clothing choices do not mean that they are consenting to sexual activity. [8]

Myth: Getting help is expensive for survivors of assault.
Fact: Services such as counseling and advocacy are offered for free or at a low cost by sexual assault service providers. [9]

Myth: There is nothing we can do to prevent sexual violence.
Fact: There are many ways you can help prevent sexual violence including intervening as a bystander to protect someone who may be at risk. [10]

[1] Groth, A., Burgess, W., & Holmstrom, L. Rape: Power, anger, and sexuality. American Journal of Psychiatry, 134(11), 1239-43.
[2] TeBockhorst, S., O’Halloran, M., & Nyline, B. (2014). Tonic Immobility Among Survivors of Sexual Assault. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 7(2). 171-178
[3] Lonsway, K., Archambault, J., & Lisak, D. (2009). False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute NonStranger Sexual Assault. The Voice, 3(1).
[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. (2011).
[5]U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey. 2009-2013.
[7] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. (2011).


1 comment

  • I am new to the site and I haven’t seen a distinction that not all aware of, abusers will not abuse everyone they come into contact with. That’s how people can think ” they’re great, they’ve never done that to me.” From what I’ve seen about these discussions that is not an understood factor.
    I hope that this will help those who can’t believe their friend would do such a thing understand that actually, yes they can.

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