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Myths and Realities

MYTH: It could never happen to me. 

REALITY: Any person of any age, gender, race, class, physical ability, occupation, sexual orientation, or physical appearance can be sexually assaulted. 

MYTH: Sexual assault is only committed in dark alleys by strangers.

REALITY: 76% of sexual assaults reported by college women are perpetrated by someone known to the survivor. The most common locations are within residence halls on campuses. The perpetrators may range from classmates to neighbors. Students of all genders are primarily assaulted by acquaintances. 

MYTH: Women give mixed messages because they do not want to admit that they do not want to have sex. 

REALITY: Rape is a crime for which the perpetrator holds responsibility. Rape is rape regardless of the relationship between two people and regardless of the behavior of the survivor prior to or during the assault.

MYTH: Only women are sexually assaulted and only men perpetrate it.

REALITY: While victims who report sexual assaults identify as women in the vast majority of cases, and while it is believed that perpetrators are men in 90% of cases on college campuses, it is important to note that only a small percentage of men (about 6%) ever commit sexual violence, and those who do often commit assaults against an average of six people. (Lisak et al., 2007) Concisely, people of all genders are affected by sexual violence.

MYTH: Someone who was drinking or drunk when sexually assaulted is at least partially to blame.

REALITY: Sexual assault survivors are never responsible for the attack, no matter what, no matter how much alcohol they consumed. Based on research conducted on perpetrator behavior, it is believed that many perpetrators of sexual assault on college campuses strategically use alcohol to incapacitate their targets. Responsibility lies with the perpetrator and the survivor is never responsible for the assailant’s behavior. Substance use may increase the vulnerability to sexual assault, and may make someone incapable of giving consent or protecting themselves, but it is never the cause of an assault. (National Institute ofJustice, 2008)

MYTH: It is not sexual violence if the couple is dating.

REALITY: Unwanted sexual activity in any relationship qualifies as sexual violence.

MYTH: If the victim did not fight or try to run away, or there was no weapon or injuries sustained, rape did not occur. 

REALITY: Threats of violence are a weapon, and a woman may not resist vigorously for fear of injury or death.