Myths & realities

Myths & Realities About Sexual Assault

Rape is not sex, it is violence.

Myth: Only certain types of women get raped. It could never happen to me.
Reality: Anyone can be raped. Women, men, and transgender people from the very young to the elderly; people of all ethnicities; socioeconomic levels; and all sexual orientations are raped. The vast majority of rape victims are female.

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

Myth: Men who rape are “psychos.”
Reality: Men who rape are mostly ordinary, everyday guys. Only a tiny percentage of men who rape would be considered psychopathic by standard psychiatric criteria. The vast majority of men who rape are indistinguishable from your friends.

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, the desire to exert power and control, the desire to humiliate and degrade, and in some cases, the 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. People who are raped by someone they know experience a similar degree of trauma as those raped by a stranger. Some specific feelings may be different, but not the severity of the feelings.

Myth: Men can’t 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: Women provoke rape by the way they dress or the way they flirt.
Reality: Men rape women because they can get away with it. Women’s dress and 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, but that is an excuse rather than 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 with anymore frequency than men or women lie about any other crime. Survivors do not normally lie about being raped. Sexual assault is the most under-reported crime of all according to National Crime Victimization Survey.

Myth: Women secretly want to be raped.
Reality: Women do not desire 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.

For more web-based resources about sexual assault and recovering from sexual assault, visit RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).